First, let's quash the chlorophyll myth
In the United States in the 1930s and 40s, wheatgrass (the juice extracted from wheat sprouts before the new seed begins to form) helped millions enjoy improved health and wellbeing.
At the time, it was widely believed that wheatgrass juices, extracts and powders improved one's health because of the "green chlorophyll" they contained.
Because chlorophyll and hemoglobin appeared to have similar biochemical structures, it was thought that wheatgrass also contributed to good health by carrying oxygen in the bloodstream. In fact, their structures differ significantly. Chlorophyll is incapable of transporting oxygen.
Also, hemoglobin is a complex protein found in mammalian blood, but chlorophyll is a hydrocarbon found in the leaves of plants. It's main function is to generate the energy required to produce the oxygen we breath. (See Figure 1.)
Fig. 1. Chlorophyll can only assist oxygen production inside a live, biologically active plant cell in the same way that a mitochondrion can only produce energy inside a live human or animal cell. Therefore, damaging the plant cell e.g. by juicing, destroys chlorophyll's biochemical functionality making it unable to influence oxygen production.
Commercial "Chlorophyllin" misconceives the properties of chlorophyll
Further driving the myth that chlorophyll generates health benefits was the introduction of Chlorophyllin, a wheatgrass-based commercial product that supposedly contained chlorophyll, and that was found to be highly effective for treating infected wounds, burns, and other injuries. Note that this was before the time of antibiotics; as such, the healing properties of Chlorophyllin gained considerable interest.
In fact, chlorophyll is highly unstable, and cannot survive after the wheatgrass leaf is cut. In fact, the product's green colour was maintained by a copper salt added to the formulation during manufacture (a move that was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration at the time).
A surgeon and many others attribute healing to chlorophyll
In 1947, US Army surgeon Lieutenant-Colonel Bowers reported remarkable recovery of infected wounds through the use of a commercial product and mistakenly attributed his results to chlrophyll. His obervations included:
- Elimination of odour associated with infected wounds.
- Acceleration of tissue recovery when used as a dressing, particularly for burns.
- A drying effect in cases of abscesses, sinus tracts, surface wounds and bone infection, all of which continue to challenge surgeons to this day.
Bowers also reported faster healing of anal fistulas, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, bedsores, bone fractures and gunshot wounds (the majority of his patients were injured in battle). Even legs were saved from "inevitable amputation" thought (incorrectly) to be due to chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll does not transport oxygen in circulating blood
For 80 years or more, chlorophyll has been attributed with not only providing humans (and animals) with good health, but also transporting oxygen in circulating blood in the same way as hemoglobin.
But, neither claim makes sense because:
- Chlorophyll is a complex hydrocarbon molecule that exists inside chloroplasts in the cells of plants, but not in human cells. (Fig. 1) It's only, but extremely important function, is to generate oxygen by plants, enabling us to breathe. In other words, once a plant leaf (e.g. wheatgrass) is picked, chloroplast function ceases.
- Hemoglobin is a complex protein molecule that is responsible for transporting oxygen in the bloodstream of all mammals - including humans.
So, if chlorophyll doesn't hasten healing, how does wheatgrass heal?
How wheatgrass heals
Since 1995, when I first observed the healing properties of wheatgrass, I have treated numerous patients successfully for a wide variety of medical conditions and injuries. Many of these cases are presented on this site.
The exact way wheatgrass works for healing such a broad spectrum of illnesses and injuries is not yet fully understood. However, an important clue was provided by Rhone Poulenc Laboratories in Paris in 1987, when wheatgrass extract was found to contain numerous ligands capable of binding to, and influencing the bioactivity of a number of human cells.
For instance, inhibition of Substance P activity, an important central nervous system pain neurotransmitter, was approximately 98 percent. This could explain why wheatgrass extract, when applied to burn wounds, can often rapidly relieve pain.
Rhone Poulenc detected more than twenty other ligands in the wheatgrass extract, all of which appeared to positively influence release of various cellular bioactives such as neurotensin (Wikipedia). I have even induced body temperature reduction many times by applying a little wheatgrass extract to the nape of the neck. Reduction in fever can occur several minutes afterwards and is particularly effective in children.
Figure 2 below illustrates how ligands work. For instance, when wheatgrass extract is applied to an injury, ligands it contains bind to cell receptors which influences gene expression by the cell’s DNA to produce “brain signalling” proteins. These proteins signal the brain of the need to repair or alter cells in various parts of the body such as damaged blood vessels and disrupted nerve conduction. Given the vastly complex physiological mechanisms required to achieve such recoveries, I believe such complex “normalising” (healing) responses could only be educed by the brain and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA).
For example, if wheatgrass extract is applied to a second-degree burn soon after the event, pain can be significantly reduced or even eliminated. View an example.
It appears that the pain transmitter (Substance P) has been prevented from reaching the brain, most likely because neural transmission is prevented from entering the spinal cord via ligand-gated ion channels.
I have observed almost immediate pain relief of second-degree burns simply by applying a little wheatgrass extract to the burn area. Secondly, burns heal rapidly infection-free - infection being a major concern in the field of medicine.
Many other examples of accelerated healing on this website suggest there may be a similar physiological "healing" process involved.
By comparison, for drugs/pharmaceuticals to influence the brain, they must first cross the blood-brain barrier. This can be a major obstacle for many drugs.
Since starting to use wheatgrass extract as a healing agent in my practice over two decades ago, I have observed numerous, often rapid, responses. Some of these are featured on the Cases & Conditions page.
I have observed that physiological disturbances such as hemorrhage and wound infection generally respond well to wheatgrass extract. Such responses suggest comprehensive, accelerated "signaling" of tissue malfunction or damage, directly to the hypothalamus in the brain. Numerous clinical observations suggest influence on the hypothalamic/ pituitary/adrenal (HPA) axis which controls the body's numerous hormonal activities. For instance, the extract has helped many infertile women conceive.
In this case of wheatgrass extract-treated psoriasis , there has been remarkable improvement after just two applications, one week apart. Note the large areas where thick plaque has almost disappeared, being replaced by normal skin. This remarkable response demonstrates how a "simple" plant extract can reverse the adverse effects of highly complex pathology.
Here are some more examples of wheatgrass extract-accelerated healing:
- Second degree burns
- Spider bite heals after 9 years
- Molluscum contagiosum
- Split lip for one year heals in one week