How to Use Wheatgrass Juice for Pain Relief

What’s the reputation of wheatgrass juice for pain relief?

“Wheatgrass juice is used to treat arthritis when nothing else works,” one of my doctors commented, when I first discovered wheatgrass juice. He mentioned the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD), which is discussed below.

What’s Wheatgrass Juice?

Wheatgrass juice is a bright green juice pressed from the blades of young wheat and barley plants when they are at their nutritional peak.

It has an impressive reputation as a health drink: a staple at juice bars, the focus of health spas, and a popular home nutrition treatment. Intensive use reportedly addresses skin conditions, chronic pancreatitis, liver disease, and cancer.

The “grass juice factor”

In the 1930’s, the world-renowned nutrition laboratory at the University of Wisconsin’s College of Agriculture investigated why milk quality is superior when cows graze on fresh spring grasses. Animals may thrive on spring milk but suffer on winter milk.

Researchers found that animals could thrive on winter milk if the juice from the spring grass itself was added to it. They noted this special quality of wheatgrass juice and called it the “grass juice factor.” Results with wheatgrass juice were so impressive that observing the young animals’ growth, they described a “growth stimulating factor.” They concluded that “the growth stimulating factor of grass was distinct from all the known vitamins.”

Even today, it is difficult to analyze the juice’s nutritional content. Juice of any kind deteriorates quickly. When freshly made, it contains the most nutrients; then the nutrients begin to rapidly degrade. Nevertheless, one nutritional analysis of wheatgrass juice is here at Dynamic Greens. Its nutrition includes chlorophyll, B vitamins, potassium, and magnesium.

A dried powder of wheatgrass juice was developed as an animal feed and as a nutritional supplement. Additional research has been conducted since the 1980s to support powdered wheatgrass juice products, much of it in Japan.

Meanwhile, fresh wheatgrass juice as a health drink was developed and popularized by Ann Wigmore and her Hippocrates Health Institute.

 


 

“Superoxide” Causes Pain

The toxic molecule superoxide is a form of oxygen that is actually capable of damaging the cells and tissues of the body.

Our body creates superoxide:

  • In the course of ordinary metabolism, such as breathing​
  • In infections, inflammation, and toxic reactions

“Superoxide is a key player in pain,” researchers wrote in a 2004 article, called “A Newly Identified Role for Superoxide,” in The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics1.

The supplement company AgriGenic reports2 that according to SOD research:

  • Superoxide initiates the breakdown of synovial fluid—the fluid within the joints
  • Superoxide triggers the inflammation of arthritis, bursitis, and gout

In a 2004 article in the journal Molecular Interventions3, neurologist Jin Mo Chung summarized that superoxide is involved in chronic pain, “such as pain associated with inflammation or nerve injury.”

In “A Newly Identified Role for Superoxide in Inflammatory Pain4,” the researchers continued, “In acute and chronic inflammation, superoxide is produced at a rate that overwhelms the capacity of the endogenous SOD enzyme defense system to remove it. Such an imbalance results in superoxide-mediated injury.”

That is, chronic pain involves a build-up of superoxide, and that build-up actually causes injury!

Superoxide’s Enemy: Superoxide Dismutase

Fortunately, our body also creates the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) to destroy superoxide. However, our SOD can’t always keep up with the superoxide.

Could the grass juice factor involve the superoxide dismutase enzyme?

SOD, the antioxidant enzyme that my doctor mentioned, is made by the body to break down the toxic molecule superoxide. It has been studied for its function in fighting pain, as well as its other functions.

Although it’s made by the body, it also has been administered by injection and in various kinds of supplements. It is also contained in wheatgrass juice and some other foods.

Superoxide Dismutase as a Treatment for Pain

SOD injections, supplements, and treatments are a complex topic with no clear solution for the ordinary person.

Injections

SOD injections, under the drug name orgotein, apparently have been used in Europe since the early 1980’s.

A 1989 article in the American Journal of Medicine5 described a study of osteoarthritis patients receiving orgotein injections in the knee joint. The study concluded that “orgotein was effective in reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis for up to three months after treatment” and noted the “favorable risk-benefit ratio.”

Supplements and food

There has been controversy about how, or whether, SOD can be absorbed when taken orally, in supplements or food.

Yet foods high in SOD have a reputation of improving pain, autoimmunity, cancer, and other conditions.

There are several theories. One is that SOD is indeed absorbed orally. Another is that its presence in supplements or food induces its production in the body, that is, encourages the body to produce more than it otherwise would.

A third theory, however, involves the precursors, or building blocks, of SOD.

Wheatgrass juice uniquely contains SOD precursors

According to the Life Extension Foundation, research suggests that when you consume the nutrients that are the precursors or building blocks of SOD, the body will create its own SOD.

Its 2006 report6 describes wheat sprouts as a “rich source” of SOD precursors: “Wheat sprouts represent one rich source of these SOD-boosting building blocks.”

And in fact, a small study of an AgriGenic wheat sprout product found participants’ blood levels of SOD increasing up to seven times. Wheatgrass juice expert Steve Meyerowitz pointed out that the study also showed that “potency can be maintained in a supplement.”

Fresh wheatgrass juice, the original, source food, likely has these factors more intact, as well as containing the fresh enzymes themselves. Most likely it has a complete package of other antioxidant enzymes and their precursors, along with nutritional factors that we may not currently understand.

 


Action Steps

Wheatgrass juice tastes and smells like a pleasant field of spring weeds; it also tastes and smells like an energetic burst of concentrated nutrition. You’ll have no doubt that it’s good for you.​

Its concentrated nutrition includes chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. ​

Fresh, frozen, or powdered?

I don’t think there’s any substitute for fresh or fresh-frozen wheatgrass juice.

However, much work has been done trying to capture the elements of fresh juice in a powder. The best documented powder is Green Magma.​

Trying wheatgrass juice

  • You might want to start out by trying fresh juice at a juice bar.
  • Frozen juice in a reasonably small amount is available at many grocery stores.
  • You can mix wheatgrass juice with canned pineapple juice or other juice.

How much to take?

These are the recommendations of expert Steve Meyerowitz, from his book Wheatgrass: Nature’s Finest Medicine, for fresh or fresh-frozen juice.

Take on an empty stomach.

Take .5 oz. to 2 oz. at one time.

For general health, take 1 to 2 ounces daily.

For serious health challenges, take up to four times a day to a total of 4 to 8 ounces per day.​

Trial length

I think it’s likely you’ll have a feeling for how it is working for within a week or two.

Give real changes 6 to 12 months to take place.

In a trial, be consistent with daily use.


Sources

Fresh: Juice Bar

Jamba Juice

Whole Foods

Frozen: Grocery Store

Evergreen

Frozen: Online

Dynamic Greens

Sproutman

Fresh: Juice your own

Some can obtain a supply of wheatgrass that is already grown and then juice it themselves.

​Online or locally, wheatgrass can be:

  • Delivered in trays of living grass
  • Freshly cut

Wheatgrass juice is pressed with a grass juicer: a juicer of different design than other juicers or blenders. Other juicers or blenders will not work for juicing blades of grass.

Guides to grass juicers:

Wheatgrass Kits: Juicer and Juicing Starter Guide

Benefits of Juicing: Best Wheatgrass Juicer in 2015​

Fresh: Grow your own

​Wheatgrass grows indoors from seed in about 9 to 12 days.

Supplies and instructions from:

Sproutman

WheatgrassKits

 


 

References

Books

Wheatgrass: Nature’s Finest Medicine
Steve Meyerowitz
An excellent book with an overview of all wheatgrass topics.

The Wheatgrass Book
Ann Wigmore

Nutritional Analysis

Wheatgrass Juice Nutritional Analysis
Dynamic Greens

Articles

Superoxide Dismutase: Boosting the Body’s Primary Antioxidant Defense
Dale Kiefer
Life Extension Magazine, June 2006

Antioxidant Enzymes
AgriGenic

Medical Journal Articles

Every link leads to free full text, except as noted. In some cases, to get to the full text, you’ll need to find and click an additional PDF or full text link .

PMID is the ID number in the free PubMed medical literature index. PMCID is the ID number in the free PubMed Central full-text archive.

Intra-articular Orgotein in Osteoarthritis of the Knee: a Placebo-Controlled Efficacy, Safety, and Dosage Comparison
H. McIlwain, J.S. Silverfield, D.E. Cheatum, J. Poiley, J. Taborn, T. Ignaczak, C.V. Multz
The American Journal of Medicine 1989 Sep; 87(3):295-300
PMID: 2773967
(abstract only is free)

A Newly Identified Role for Superoxide in Inflammatory Pain
Zhi-Qiang Wang, Frank Porreca, Salvatore Cuzzocrea, Karen Galen, Richard Lightfoot, Emanuela Masini, Carolina Muscoli, Vincenzo Mollace, Michael Ndengele, Harry Ischiropoulos, and Daniela Salvemini
The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics June 2004 309 (3): 869-878
PMID: 14988418

The Role of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) in Persistent Pain (PDF)
Jin Mo Chung
Molecular Interventions October 2004 4(5) 248-249
PMID: 15471906

Superoxide Dismutase Administration, a Potential Therapy Against Oxidative Stress Related Diseases: Several Routes of Supplementation and Proposal of an Original Mechanism of Action
J. Carillon, J.M.Rouanet, J.P. Cristol, R. Brion
Pharmaceutical Research 2013 Nov; 30(11):2718-28
PMID: 23793992
(abstract only is free)