My theory on how wheatgrass extract heals

Introduction: Wheatgrass extract - Essential for a doctor's bag
Dr. Chris Reynolds. M.B.,B.S. Click pic for CV.

In 1995, I was working as a general practitioner in Melbourne, Australia. In those days, prescribing a 'natural' remedy when such a plethora of pharmaceuticals was available, so few doctors tried them. So, when I was given a "natural healing rye grass cream" and shown photographs of how it healed wounds on a horse's fetlock where veterinary treatment failed, (Figs. 2, & 3), I tossed it into my bag and forgot about it.

Fig. 1. Alan's venous ulcer the day after first wheatgrass extract application. The crust (scab) has completely disappeared.
Fig. 1. Alan's venous ulcer the day after first wheatgrass extract application. The crust (scab) has completely disappeared.

A few days later, I called on an elderly, retired bookmaker who had suffered for two years from constant, severe pain due to a deep, non-healing leg ulcer for two years. (Fig. 1). He was asking for "stronger medicine" because his pain killers weren't working, but I refused his request for a narcotic painkiller.

Fig. 2. A deep, infected fetlock wound unresponsive to 9 months veterinary treatment.
Fig. 2. A deep, infected fetlock wound unresponsive to 9 months veterinary treatment.
wheatgrass extract heals wounds quickly
Fig. 3. Hair is now completely covering the wound.

Photos of a horse's severely wounded fetlock came to mind. (Figs. 2 & 3), where, after 9 months' treatment by vets failed, (and the animal was about to be put down). The herbal cream healed the wound in about three weeks, so with the patient's approval, I reluctantly applied a little cream, dressed the wound and returned to the surgeery.

When I arrived the next morning I was surprised to find the patient cheerful and walking around his room, apparently pain-free. He had also slept well fore the first time in twelve months or so.

When I removed his dressing, it peeled off painlessly - and the thick crust (scab) had completely disappeared! (See Fig. 1.) Then, using a magnifying glass, the wound surface was completely dry, and appeared to be completely sealed over by a thin membranous sheet.

But how could a "simple" herbal cream completely seal off an open wound overnight?

Since this amazing episode, the extract has proven itself effective for effectively healing many other medical conditions such as diabetic leg and foot ulcers, topical steroid damaged skin, and injuries.

So began my "wheatgrass extract journey", which, 27 years on, continues to assist healing of numerous conditions and injuries. But, how does the extract work so well and so much faster than standard medical treatments? For instance, Case Nos. 1 & 2 , show how rapidly wheatgrass extract can achieve recovery of first and second degree burns and, relieve burn pain.  

Case No. 1. Rapid recovery of a second-degree minor burn
Fig. 3. Wheatgrass extract recovers second-degree burn pain and swelling in minutes. Note also that the stud could be readily inserted soon after application.

Fig. 4. Wheatgrass extract eases first-degree burn pain and reduces swelling, often in minutes if applied soon after the incident. Note: The ear stud was re-inserted soon after the treatment.

This young female (Fig. 4) suffered a superficial burn from a hot straightening iron. On the left, the burn is reddish-blue, blistered and swollen. However, five minutes after application of wheatgrass extract, her pain has eased. Two hours later (on the right) the burn has almost fully recovered. The blister remains intact and the inflammation and swelling has reduced significantly. This is not a response one would normally expect.

Clearly, the wheatgrass extract has limited further damage by rapidly recovering the wound and surrounding tissue almost to normal - in several minutes.

The question is "How?"

Case No. 2. Recovery of severe radiation burns plus pain relief

Pain caused by radiation therapy, on the skin and internally, can be severe, yet, to my knowledge, there are no medications available that can satisfactorily relieve it. However, wheatgrass extract can, by applying a little over the treatment area before and after radiation treatment.


Fig. 5. Severe 2nd degree radiotherapy burns that wheatgrass extract has healed in 2 weeks.  

For instance, in this case, (Fig. 5.) there has been rapid healing of a severe radiotherapy burn in a patient's armpit after just 2 weeks' application of wheatgrass extract. There is no inflammation, the skin is completely healed and the patient is pain-free. Such results are not normally expected so soon after radiation. Full story.

Here is another remarkable recovery of severe venous leg ulcers in an elderly patient.

Also, healing of a year-old split lower lip.

And, a case of childhood leukemia.

Please go to this page for many other conditions where wheatgrass extract has worked when nothing else has.

How does wheatgrass extract assist wound recovery?

Ligands are molecules that inflluence cell receptors to release neurotransmitters that send various sensations such as pain, pressure, taste, vision and touch, to the brain for assessment and action. Substance P for instance, transmits pain. (Figure 6.)  However, laboratory tests prove that wheatgrass extract blocks Substance P by about  98 percent - which enables it to assist pain reduction.

In 1991, Rhone Poulenc Laboratories in Paris found at least 20 different ligands present in the extract. In particular, they found a very high, (98%) inhibition of Substance P which could explain why wheatgrass extract is so effective in relieving pain caused by burns and other injuries. Internal pain due to ulcerative colitis, gastric ulcers etc. can also respond well to the extract. (See Fig. 6).

Fig.6. Pain cell receptors signal the brain, and or spinal cord via the neurotransmitter, Substance P which responds instantaneously by drawing the hand away from the pain. 

(More burns cases.)

Fever also can be reduced by applying a little wheatgrass to the back of the patient's neck. This perhaps suggests influence on the hypothalamus (in the brain) that controls body temperature.

Infertile women wanting to conceive have often succeeded by taking a small dose of the extract daily. Possibly this is because the extract appears to 'normalise' the  hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) which is essential for conception to occur.

Finally, Figure 7, shows how wheatgrass extract might assist healing of injuries. Even a small injury can lead to complex tissue damage with bleeding and damage of nerves, skin, muscles and blood vessels etc. In summary, it appears that ligands in wheatgrass extract help restore lost functionality by re-connecting "decoupled" cell receptors to the brain.   

Fig. 7. Probably how wheatgrass extract helps heal an injury.  (1) The skin is damaged, leading to "de-coupling" of  neurones that normally feed comprehensive information to the brain  essential for maintaining normal function of the area. (2) Wheatgrass extract appears to assist in reconnecting damaged cell receptors from the periphery to the brain by "neuronal re-coupling".
Fig. 7. Probably how wheatgrass extract helps heal an injury. (1) The skin is damaged, leading to "de-coupling" of neurones that normally feed comprehensive information to the brain essential for maintaining normal function of the area. (2) Wheatgrass extract appears to assist in reconnecting damaged cell receptors from the periphery to the brain by "neuronal re-coupling".
Renowned scientist finds wheatgrass extract influences gene expression

Gene expression is the process by which instructions from ligands (that have been proven to exist in wheatgrass extract) influence cellular DNA to produce proteins such as neurotransmitters that signal the brain accordingly.

Prof. Panos Ioannou
Prof. Panos Ioannou

After observing numerous, similarly remarkable responses, (many of which appear on this website) it seemed that wheatgrass extract could be influencing gene expression in numerous cell receptors, but there was no way I could prove it. Then, in 2006, my theory was confirmed by internationally renowned biological scientist, Professor Panos Ioannou – the leading co-creator of the first human PAC genomic library.

I met the Professor on 28th July, 2004, when I took him some extract at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) in Melbourne. Having read some of my medical responses to wheatgrass extract he was particularly interested in my theory that it might be influencing gene expression of cell receptors.

Panos was currently searching for plant extracts capable of boosting fetal haemoglobin (HbF) production by erythroleukemic cells in three mice (murine) cell clones. Then, a few days later, he messaged me that "the wheatgrass extract had induced fetal hemoglobin in three separate murine (mouse) cell clones" and, unlike the hundreds of other plants he had tested, "the extract strongly influenced gene expression". 

He continued: “Our measurements suggest a 3-5 fold increase in the production of fetal hemoglobin by the wheat grass extract. This is a substantial increase and could certainly provide an explanation why some thalassaemic patients may derive significant benefit from it.”

"These results," he continued, "albeit in vitro, increased the possibility that the beneficial effects of freshly juiced wheatgrass noted by Marwaha, et al. [an Indian-based hematologist], may have been due to the induction of gamma-globin chain synthesis leading to greater fetal hemoglobin content in the red cell (via the influence of gene expression); this would result in less redundant alpha-globin chains in the red cell, less Heinz body formation, and greater red cell stability with less red cell destruction."

These were all important properties that could favour thalassemic patients.

He continued: "Clearly, this hypothesis needs further study, but it holds the promise of some very exciting and simple therapeutic possibilities that may preclude the need for repeated blood transfusions.”

Tragically, Panos, 54, and in his prime, succumbed to cancer on 18 April, 2005 and his important discovery was, for some reason, forgotten. Nonetheless, Panos proved that wheatgrass extract influences gene expression - an important finding that supported my own theory of how wheatgrass might work.

How does wheatgrass extract assist recovery of many medical conditions and injuries?

Leprosy infection, particularly of the hands and feet, remains an incurable condition in countries such as India. To date, effective drug treatment has been largely ineffective. For instance, this patient's ulcer had been present for nine years, where drug treatment failed. When he began applying wheatgrass extract once monthly, his only treatment had consisted of daily cleansing and protective dressings. Clearly, wheatgrass extract has almost restored his infected foot to normal after six months', once monthly treatment.

Figure 8, (2021), demonstrates one of seven chronic (5 to 10 years old) cases in India of unhealed leprous ulcers that responded positively to monthly application of wheatgrass extract. Six other cases completely healed within four months. Interestingly, specialists in the field assured me that healing was virtually impossible. (View cases.)

Fig. 4.  'Unhealable' leprosy wound present 15 years in 60 year old female heals after 4 once a monthly applications of wheatgrass extract.  (View 6 more cases)
Fig. 8. A leprous foot ulcer for 8 years considered "beyond healing" has almost completely healed after 6 applications of wheatgrass extract over 5 months, suggesting reconnection of "repaired" receptors with the brain.

Similarly, in Figure 9 (below), there have been positive changes in the appearance of the patient's psoriatic lesions since the extract was first applied. The lesions had been unsuccessfully treated with a variety of applications, including 15 years of topical steroids, drugs that can rapidly thin and damage the skin's complex structure and functionality. However, after 2 months' treatment (twice monthly) with wheatgrass extract, the lesions have significantly darkened and enlarged.

But isn't this a negative outcome?

Not to me. If anything, it is more likely that "re-coupling" of sensory receptors from the periphery (skin), to the brain has helped restore a number of physiological functions in the skin-damaged areas such as recovery of blood supply. (Red arrows) Perhaps the patient ceased using the extract thinking that the darkening and enlargement of the skin lesions were negative signs when it is more likely due restoration of the blood supply and "reactivation" of many other cell receptors. Psoriasis. Effect of wheatgrass extract on chronic psoriasis.

Fig. 9. Psoriasis - 10 years. The lesions on the left are dry, insipid and lack vitality. However, after two months wheatgrass extract application, the lesions on the right are now deeply coloured and enlarged, suggesting restoration of blood supply to the affected area via "neuronal re-coupling".

To me, these "negative" changes are caused by peripheral cell receptors losing contact with the brain, or "de-coupling" leading to inadequate blood supply and nutrition and subsequent skin dryness, cracking etc., and the formation of "lifeless", dry, pallid lesions. Also, abrupt cessation of topical steroids can cause severe rebound effects requiring emergency steroid "treatment". Other symptoms, such as weeping skin, pain, erosion and infection are common.

Treatment should therefore be directed towards "re-coupling" steroid-damaged areas on the skin with the brain, rather than damaging the skin further with topical steroids.

This basic principle is important because it applies to the management of many medical conditions and pathologies, both internal and external. For example, this supposedly "incurable" spider bite wound that had defied medical treatment for nine years!

In Figure 10, a 17-year-old girl had suffered from psoriasis for three years, and topical steroids had failed. Yet, wheatgrass extract applied once weekly, repaired her skin completely in four months. I can only presume her recovery was due to the extract restoring numerous physiological processes such as blood supply and touch sensation to the brain - via 'neuronal re-coupling'.

Most drug treatments for psoriasis (and eczema) such as topical steroids, may reduce inflammation, but do nothing to restore the skin's damaged structure and functionality. In fact, they atrophy (thin) the skin, exposing the patient to infection and various topical steroid withdrawal symptoms.

Compared with the patient in Figure 9, the remarkable response of this teenage girl's skin (Fig. 10.) to wheatgrass extract, may help explain why age is an important factor when predicting the patient's therapeutic response.

Fig. 10. Peri-umbilical psoriasis in a 17-year-old female, present 2 years. Unresponsive to topical steroids and numerous other treatments. Healed by wheatgrass extract in 4 months with once weekly application.
Fig. 10. Peri-umbilical psoriasis in a 17-year-old female, present 2 years. Unresponsive to topical steroids and numerous other treatments. Healed by wheatgrass extract in 4 months with once weekly application.
Wheatgrass extract removes psoriatic plaques & reveals underlying normal skin, in 2 weeks
Fig. 11. Severe psoriasis unresponsive to standard medical treatment responds remarkably to wheatgrass extract.
Fig. 11. Severe psoriasis unresponsive to standard medical treatment responds remarkably to wheatgrass extract.

Just two weeks after wheatgrass extract was applied to the affected area, (Fig. 4.) there has been remarkable recovery of the patient's skin after two applications. The large areas of thick plaque have almost disappeared, revealing normal skin underneath. This suggests there has been a rapid "re-connection" (re-coupling) between the psoriatically damaged skin area and the brain which has then responded to help restore the patient's skin to normal. Also, the patient is young, which might facilitate  the healing process.

This case also suggests that the CAUSE of psoriasis might be related to dysfunction of efferent nerves from the brain to  "affected" areas. This concept is supported by a number of conditions such as skin disorders, hemorrhage, pain, itch etc. that frequently respond to wheatgrass extract

Why chlorophyll doesn't heal

In the United States in the 1930/40's, a green-coloured commercial product, 'Chlorophyllin', (containing an extract derived from wheatgrass sprouts) was found to be effective for healing infected wounds. Unfortunately, this 'clinical observation' helped create the myth that 'green' chlorophyll 'heals', when in fact, it does nothing of the sort. Left for a short while, fresh wheatgrass juice turns from dark green to black as the chlorophyll oxidises, loseing its bioactivity. Cleverly, chlorophyllin manufacturers overcame this problem by adding a green copper salt to the mix and calling it 'sodium copper chlorophyllin', This product is still available.

In 1947, US Army surgeon Lieutenant-Colonel Bowers reported remarkable healing of wounds by applying them with Chlorophyllin. Although he incorrectly attributed the results to chlorophyll, he also observed:

Absence of odour in infected wounds. (Suggesting the juice somehow kept the wound sterile.)
Acceleration of wound recovery when applied before applying dressings - particularly for burns.
A drying effect for abscesses, sinus tracts, surface wounds and bone infection.

Having observed numerous similar recoveries by the wheatgrass extract, (which laboratory tests have proven not to contain chlorophyll), I can vouch for Bowers' observations. For instance, by faster healing of anal fistulaCrohn's diseaseulcerative colitisbedsores and bone fractures - even gunshot wounds. However, chlorophyll, although essential for the production of oxygen, does not heal wounds or cure medical conditions. Figure 6 is an attempt to dispel this age old myth.

Chloroplast diagram
Fig. 12. Chlorophyll can only generate oxygen production inside a live plant cell, like a mitochondrion can only produce energy inside living human or animal cells. Once the cell is damaged, chlorophyll is no longer functional.