When it comes to the benefits of health food supplements such as wheatgrass, maca and spirulina, there will always be controversy. This is because there is scant scientific evidence of the health benefits, and yet millions of people around the world swear by their efficacy in treating a wide variety of health issues. Barley grass is no different: while it has never been proved, many people believe this humble seedling can help to fight cancer. Organic food supplement supplier Rainforest Foods (http://www.rainforestfoods.co.uk/) looks at both sides of the debate.
Organic barley grass is a nutritional supplement used the world over. Originating from the seedling of the barley plant and harvested when the grass is under a foot tall, this ‘superfood’ is packed to the brim with nutrients and is a powerful antioxidant. A highly concentrated source of both vitamins and minerals, barley grass gives the body a hit of vitamins A, C, B1, B2, folic acid, and B12; calcium; iron; potassium; and chlorophyll, ‘nature’s detoxifier’. Barley grass is also one of the only plants in nature that can provide the human body with all of the nine amino acids that are so vital for health and well-being, but which the body does not produce.
This is certainly an impressive list of properties, which goes some way to explain the popularity of barley grass health supplements, but it seems a leap to claim barley grass can fight against cancer. Those who believe this is true claim that the powerful antioxidant effect of barley grass can help the body kill off cancer cells, as well as helping to overcome less serious ailments such as stomach ulcers and acne. But are these just claims? Perhaps not, according to Head of the Biochemistry Department at George Washington University’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Allan L. Goldstein, Ph.D. Goldstein, in his studies of barley grass, found that it contains an antioxidant known as alpha-tocopherol succinate which is related to vitamin E. Research has found that alpha-tocopherol succinate seems to inhibit a number of cancers (leukemia, brain tumours and prostate cancer in particular), although it is not known just how this happens.
Inhibiting the growth of cancerous cells is obviously vital in the fight against cancer. Yoshihide Hagiwara, M.D., Japanese researcher and author of “Green Barley Essence” has found that barley grass promotes the growth of new cells, helping with severe skin conditions and even stomach ulcers. But again, while many support the findings and think that the high levels of chlorophyll could be to thank, there is no concrete answer as to why this is.
While there have been no clinical trials of barley grass, George Washington University’s Goldstein did carry out an experiment which exposed cancerous cells (leukemia and prostate cancer) to dehydrated barley grass extract and found that it killed nearly all the cells. When brain cancer cells were exposed, 30-50% of them were killed. However, because these findings were not discovered within a clinical trial, it cannot be considered scientific evidence.
For as long as there is insufficient hard scientific evidence about the role barley grass has to play in the fight against cancer, there will always be critics left unconvinced. But for as long as cancer remains the prolific killer that it is, there will also be people who are sufficiently encouraged by the anecdotal evidence to take barley grass as a supplement.
To find out further information on the benefits of a number of organic supplements, go to http://www.rainforestfoods.co.uk/, where you can buy top quality organic barley grass powder for use in green barley juice, as well as barley grass capsules.
Editor’s Note: Contact Rainforest Foods via its website at http://www.rainforestfoods.co.uk/.
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