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The consumption of wheatgrass in the Western world began in the 1930s as a result of experiments by Charles F. Schnabel and his attempts to popularize the plant.
Schnabel, an agricultural chemist, conducted his first experiments with young grasses in 1930, when he used fresh cut grass in an attempt to nurse dying hens back to health. The hens not only recovered, but they produced eggs at a higher rate than healthy hens. Encouraged by his results, he began drying and powdering grass for his family and neighbors to supplement their diets. The following year, Schnabel reproduced his experiment and achieved the same results. Hens consuming rations supplemented with grass doubled their egg production. Schnabel started promoting his discovery to feed mills, chemist and the food industry. Two large corporations, Quaker Oats and American Diaries Inc., invested millions of dollars in further research, development and production of products for animals and humans. By 1940, cans of Schnabel's powdered grass were on sale in major drug stores throughout the United States and Canada. Ann Wigmore continued to contribute to the popularization of wheatgrass in the 1940s. When Wigmore was a child, she watched her grandmother help WWI soldiers heal their wounds using herbs and weeds. As an adult, she developed colon cancer and faced the loss of both legs after a traffic accident shattered them. Gangrene set in and her doctors recommended amputation. Wigmore refused and set out to heal herself naturally. She discarded her traditional American diet for a diet made of vegetables, grains, seeds and greens and she applied wild weeds and greens to her feet. Realizing winter was approaching and fresh greens would not be available, she prayed for inspiration.
"I asked God for direction. He supplied an exciting solution. The use of grains to grow greens in the kitchen." - Dr. Ann Wigmore
As Wigmore recovered from her wounds, she believed she had stumbled onto something valuable. Believing that most people would not chew grass, she modified a small meat grinder and developed the first wheatgrass juicer. This made it possible for anyone to grow wheatgrass and juice it in their homes.
Believing that it contributed to the remission of her cancer and recovery from gangrene, Wigmore wrote several books on the subject.
Schnabel's research was conducted with wheatgrass grown outdoors in Kansas. His wheatgrass required 200 days of slow growth, through the winter and early spring, when it was harvested at the jointing or reproductive stage.  It was at this stage that the plant reached its peak nutritional potential; after jointing, concentrations of chlorophyll, protein, and vitamin decline sharply.  Harvested grass was dehydrated and made into powders and tablets for human and animal consumption. Wheatgrass grown indoors in trays for ten days contains similar nutritional content.  Wheatgrass grown outdoors is harvested, dehydrated at a low temperature and sold in tablet and powdered forms. Wheat grass juice powder (fresh squeezed with the water removed) is also available either spray-dried or freeze-dried.
The average dosage taken by consumers of wheatgrass is 3.5 grams (powder or tablets). Some also have a fresh-squeezed 30 ml shot once daily or for more therapeutic benefits a higher dose up to 2–4 oz taken 1-3 times per day on an empty stomach and before meals. For detoxification, some users may increase their intake to 3–4 times per day. It should be noted that consumers with a poor diet may experience nausea on high dosages of wheatgrass. Outdoor wheatgrass is harvested for a few days each year from plants grown in the "bread basket" regions of the US and Canada. Winter wheat requires more than 200 days of slow growth in cold temperatures to reach the peak nutritional content. Even after that long of time, the plant is only 7 to 10 inches high.
Proponents of wheatgrass claim regular ingestion of the plant can
Wheatgrass Juice vs. Common Vegetables
One of the most popular claims about wheatgrass, and one that is frequently made by both supporters and retailers, is that 1 ounce of wheatgrass juice is as nutritionally valuable as 1 kg (2.2 lb) of green vegetables, a ratio of 1:35. The available vitamin and mineral data of wheatgrass juice, broccoli and spinach does not support this claim (see table 1). In fact, the vitamin and mineral content of 1 ounce of wheatgrass juice is roughly equivalent to the vitamin and mineral content of 1 ounce of fresh vegetables. This conclusion does not include phyto-nutrient comparisons of these foods.
Another commonly repeated claim, originally made by Schnabel in the 1940's, is that "fifteen pounds of wheatgrass is equal in overall nutritional value to 350 pounds of ordinary garden vegetables", a ratio of 1:23. Schnabel statement doesn't specify the form of wheatgrass, however, Schnabel used dried wheatgrass for his own consumption, in his research and later in his nutritional supplements; a comparison of currently available vitamin and mineral data on dried wheatgrass and fresh vegetables support Schnabel's claim. (see table 2) The vitamin and mineral content of dried grass is equivalent to roughly 20 times that of fresh vegetables.
Another common claim for wheatgrass is that it promotes detoxification. There appears to be limited data in support of that claim. 
As the chlorophyll molecule is structurally similar to hemoglobin, it has been argued that wheatgrass helps blood flow, digestion and general detoxification of the body.  Although no research exists that directly connects chlorophyll with blood building, nutrients such as iron that are associated with dark green leafy vegetables have been shown to be important for healthy blood.
In popular culture
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Wheatgrass". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|