Researchers have described many of the biologically active substances in wheatgrass, but have yet to ascertain the exact nature of the elusive 'Grass Juice Factor'. It is known to be present in all the cereal grasses and a number of other plants such as peas, cabbage, spinach and white clover. In cereal grasses, it is known to be in highest concentration in the young grass and diminishes as the plant ages.
Among other properties, the Factor has powerful growth and fertility effects in experimental animals. In one case, pigs were fed cereal grass supplements for seven weeks and gained weight rapidly. Weight gain stopped almost immediately the cereal grass was withdrawn and replaced with a mineralised milk diet only. When cereal grass was reintroduced, rapid weight gain resumed.
Clinical and research evidence has shown this 'factor' to have, among other properties, a powerful effect on the regeneration of damaged skin and improvement in health in general. Since 1995, Dr. Chris Reynolds, a Melbourne-based family physician has observed numerous healing phenomena when using a wheatgrass extract for a broad spectrum of medical conditions such as wound-healing, burns, fractures, soft tissue injuries, anal fissure and molluscum contagiosum to name a few. Clearly there was "something happening" that begged an explanation.
These findings prompted him to attempt to formulate a possible physiological mechanism that might explain at least some of his observations. Researchers had already described numerous biological actives in cereal grasses, but none of them seemed to explain the apparently enormously broad spectrum of conditions that improved using wheatgrass. Nor did they explain the sometimes astonishing rate that healing occurred.
It eventually came to him that the most likely way in which wheatgrass worked was by facilitating the body's own natural ability to heal itself. After all, that's how it appeared for instance with burns. Initially, pain was relieved soon after application. Then, overnight, a new surface became visible over the open burn that appeared to seal it and isolate it from the surrounding germ-laden air. No anitbiotics were required, and healing was rapid and uncomplicated from that point on, with minimal scarring. Having treated burns for some 25 years, he was left with no doubt that the natural healing process was being significanly enhanced compared with previous clinical experience.
How does it work?
Clearly, something was happening with his patients' immune system. It was being supported, faciltated and apparently strengthened. Wheatgrass was also working for auto-immune conditions such as acne rosacea, psoriasis and in some cases multiple sclerosis. These and many other observations led him to believe wheatgrass was acting as an immunostimulant or immunomodulator. In other words, it was helping the body to "normalise" tissue damaged by its own immune cells that are normally expected to heal, but for some reason go wrong and turn against the body.
Review of the medical research surrounding the cereal grasses revealed numerous references to the healing effects of chlorophyll, the much touted molecule that supposedly has an important role in physical healing. Now Dr. Reynolds, by observing thousands of wheatgrass "healing episodes" was able to duplicate many of the clinical results researchers had shown in the past such as burns recovery, wound and fracture healing and many others.
But there is no chlorophyll in the extract he was using! The question then remained as to what was actually causing these phenomena. Dr. Reynolds' guess? The Grass Juice Factor. But what on earth is it, and how do we find it? After all, scientists have been trying to identify it since the 1930's.
Well, it appears the most likely explanation of the ability of wheatgrass to facilitate the healing process is due to the presence of Growth Factor Activators. These are small molecules that stimulate growth factor activity. There are many types of growth factor in the body that are responsible for cell growth, recovery, repair and many other functions. One of their major functions is control of the immune response and the immune status of the individual. They are also responsible for tissue repair and the production of blood elements by bone marrow and other blood producing cells.
A scientific breakthrough
Recently in Melbourne, at a prestigious research laboratory, DNA technology developed for the Human Genome Project was used to detect the presence of a specific biological activity of Dr. Reynolds' wheatgrass extract. This was a world first for a herbal substance and the result was outstanding, exceeding all expectations!
The importance of this discovery is that it brings us closer to discovering exactly what the Grass Juice Factor is, and possibly, in the near future, exactly how it works. It may be possible to detect Growth Factor Activators (?Grass Juice Factor) which could readily explain the increased production of fetal hemoglobin in the research mentioned above. If this succeeds, it will almost certainly lead to greater understanding of how the body heals itself and how that process can be accelerated - naturally.
In the American Journal of Surgery in 1940, Benjamin Cruskin, M.D., recommends chlorophyll for its antiseptic benefits. The article suggests the following clinical uses for chlorophyll: "to clear up foul-smelling odours, neutralize streptococcal infections, heal wounds, hasten skin grafting, cure chronic sinusitis, overcome ear inflammation and infections, reduce varicose veins and heal leg ulcers, eliminate impetigo and other scabby eruptions, heal rectal sores, successfully treat inflammation of the uterine cervix, get rid of parasitic vaginal infections, reduce typhoid fever, and cure advanced pyorrhea in many cases."
Instead of "chlorophyll", it is probably better to think "Growth Factor Activators".