Two types of grasses making waves are barley grass and wheat grass. They are examples of cereal grasses that people grow for their health benefits. Health-conscious people consume these dietary supplements in powder, capsule, tablet or juice form. Hordeum vulgare, or barley grass, and Triticum aestivum, or wheat grass, contain high amounts of nutrients, but differ slightly in the health benefits they provide.
Barley grass is the leafy portion of a barley plant from which seeds are removed. The barley plant is an annual that requires reseeding each year and grows up to 3 feet tall. Wheat grass is actually the young grass of the wheat plant that people then dry or juice for human or animal consumption.
According to Barley-grass.org, the ancient Romans, Vikings and Egyptians first used barley grass, which may have found its way to America on Christopher Columbus' ships. Wheat grass, on the other hand, came to prominence in the 1930s because of chemist Charles F. Schnabel's experiments to prove its health benefits. He fed his ailing chickens wheat grass. The chickens' health improved and their egg production doubled.
Barley grass is packed with 18 vital amino acids (building blocks that assist the body in making protein) and more than 30 nutrients, while wheat grass has 20 amino acids and 82 minerals. Among other nutrients, barley grass contains organic sodium, iron, B-vitamins and calcium, while wheat grass contains potassium, manganese, zinc and magnesium along with iron, sodium and calcium.
Barley grass boosts energy levels and protects the immune system because of its antioxidants. According to Dynamic Greens, wheat grass is a detoxifier that promotes a sense of well being, and better sleep.
Drugs.com states that barley grass is packed with antioxidants that help fight cancer, skin diseases and ulcers. Hippocrates Health Institute states that wheat grass helps digestion, thyroid and metabolism, relieves skin ailments and fights caner.
Barley grass contains high amounts of fiber, more than wheat grass, which is why it should be consumed in moderation to prevent adverse reactions such as nausea. It is available in powder, tablet and capsule formations. Tablets are sold in 350 mg and 500 mg, while capsules are available in 475mg and 500 mg. The average dosage of wheat grass is 3.5 grams in tablet or capsule form, or 30 ml shot once a day.