Wheatgrass is a term used for the young Agropyron plants, which are closely related to wheat, but look like a fairly typical lawn grass when in its early stages. The plant is most well known for its health benefits, and is often crushed into a juice for regular consumption.
The health benefits of wheatgrass are somewhat contested, and it seems likely that in some cases, they are exaggerated. The plant first became widely known in the West in the 1930s, when a man named Charles Schnabel began touting its benefits. He made a number of unsubstantiated claims about the plant, including the claim that "15 pounds of wheatgrass is equivalent to 350 pounds of the choicest vegetables." This statement persists to this day, although it does not appear to be particularly true.
Although wheatgrass is high in a number of amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, and fiber, other vegetables contain these things in high amounts as well. It does offer benefits, most notably its incredibly fast growth, ability to grow in a range of conditions and in small indoor patches, and ease of juicing. Whether or not people accept all of the claims about wheatgrass, it does appear to be quite healthy and easy to consume.
Proponents of wheatgrass claim it has many incredible health benefits, including helping to prevent heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. It is also thought to help aid digestion substantially, alleviate constipation, and act as a strong liver cleanser. Still others believe the plant can help with menopause, cure hair loss, and filter heavy metals from the blood. Some or all of these claims may be true, and there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence supporting many of them, but there have been very few reliable, scientific studies on the effects.
Wheatgrass can be grown quite easily at home, which is part of its huge appeal. Small flats of the grass can often be purchased at grocery or health-food stores, and can be taken home and harvested regularly with minimal upkeep. The flats should be kept in sunlight, and regularly watered. The grass should be harvested at about 8 inches (20.32 cm). Reaching sufficient height takes around a week, and one plot of grass that is well looked after can last for some time.
The daily dose of wheatgrass depends on what results a person is looking for. Most people drink around 2 ounces (59 ml) of juice once or twice per day for regular maintenance. People looking to do a deep cleanse or detoxification may take a slightly larger dose four times a day. For best results, the juice should be taken on an empty stomach, and immediately followed with a medium-sized meal.