I tried a wheatgrass shot the other day. For those of you not familiar with the Jamba Juice franchise, it’s basically a smoothie store with an alternative medicine vibe. They sell you green tea, fruit blends, and a lot of charged words like “cleansing” and “energy.” It’s a perfect blend of commercialism and a hippie’s nutrition mentality. One of the products they sell is wheatgrass shots, and they have pamphlets free for the taking. Wheatgrass, they say, is packed full of vitamins, and has a variety of (vaguely described) health benefits.

My curiosity got the better of me, and despite the lingering suspicion that the touted benefits of this almost magically healthy substance are total bunkum, I did a shot two days ago with Allison. It wasn’t as bad as my brother described it, though the taste was so pervasive that it was washing over my tongue for the rest of the night. Don’t get me wrong: Jamba Juice’s drinks are delicious (post-wheatgrass, I drank an Açai Supercharger, which apparently included soymilk, and also which was quite tasty), and I’m sure people aren’t doing themselves any harm by drinking squeezed wheatgrass, it seems a bit silly to do at $1.76 per 1oz. shot.

I suppose what really gets me is the pamphlet I took, describing wheatgrass as “liquid sunshine,” and which reminds me a bit of the way that New Age nutballs talk about the healing properties of crystals and whathaveyou. I was skeptical. So is Skeptico. Noting JJ’s suggestion that wheatgrass juice can be used in enema form, he concludes “So it’s official. For all the good this stuff does, you might as well stick it up your ass.”

My interest piqued, I read one of the linked articles, and my opinion of wheatgrass isn’t improving.

The notion that wheatgrass can benefit serious disease sufferers was conceived by Ann Wigmore, a Boston area resident […]

The fact that grass-eating animals are not spared from cancer, despite their large intake of fresh chlorophyll, seems to have been lost on Wigmore. In fact, chlorophyll cannot “detoxify the body” since it is not absorbed [4]. Although it is conceivable that enzymes present in rectally-administered wheatgrass juice could have chemical activity, there is no evidence that this is beneficial. In fact, when challenged legally, Wigmore backed away from healing claims stating that she merely had an “educational program” to teach people how to “cleanse” their bodies and make vegetable juices (she also offered for sale a variety of juicers and other “health” paraphernalia). [5] In 1988, the Massachusetts Attorney General sued Wigmore for claiming that her “energy enzyme soup” could cure AIDS [6]. Suffolk County Judge Robert A. Mulligan ruled that Wigmore’s views on how to combat AIDS were protected by the First Amendment, but ordered her to stop representing herself as a physician or as a person licensed in any way to treat disease. This was not the first time Wigmore had run afoul of the law. In 1982, the Attorney General of Massachusetts sued Wigmore for claiming that her program could reduce or eliminate the need for insulin in diabetics, and could obviate the need for routine immunization in children. She abandoned those claims after losing in court.

In other words, while wheatgrass shots may have been fun to try, something tells me I’d be better off eating more broccoli and milk instead. As for Jamba Juice, well, I’ll just get the Roobois, instead.

§734 · August 31, 2005 · Tags: ·

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