Wheat grass may be the new apple

Published 1:07 pm Sunday, November 30, 2008

By Staff
A shot a day might keep the doctor away
Staff Writer
Karen Sairanen looks much younger than her years. She attributes her radiant health to 30 years of practicing yoga and partaking in active hobbies, such as her current artistic endeavor, mural painting, which requires plenty of ladder climbing and kinesthetic awareness. Her recently enhanced natural glow, however, she credits to a mysterious green liquid that smells like a freshly cut lawn.
This mysterious liquid is none other than the fresh-squeezed form of the grass from the common wheat plant, or wheat grass.
Once only found in such hyper-health-aware locales as southern California, wheat grass has made its way to eastern North Carolina’s Washington Cafe and Coffee Company. Washington locals, Jack and Carol Ulrich, juice the grass for long lines of wheat-grass fanatics from 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. The cost is two dollars for a shot of wheat grass and an orange chaser.
The forever-young Karen Sairanen has been going to Washington Cafe for her daily dose of juiced wheat grass for about four weeks now.
The health benefits of wheat grass were discovered in the 1930’s when a scientist, Charles F. Schnabel, found that it not only revived dying hens, but doubled their egg production as well.
Filled with chlorophyll, enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and (some would say) unique, undiscovered curative properties, wheat grass provides new hope to many who find themselves in a rut with their health in general, or a specific diagnosis.
People like Margie Holder are simply optimistic about the general health benefits of wheat grass. Holder has been taking a shot of wheat grass per day for close to one year.
After one year she seems to have gotten used to its grassy taste.
Washington Cafe regular Macon Jordan comes for the coffee and conversation, but sees the wheat grass as an added bonus.
When asked what the wheat grass does for him, Jordan said smiling, “For a 70-year-old man, I’m 40!”
Wheat grass is also being sought as a form of alternative medicine by people with various illnesses who need something to supplement their traditional wellness plans.
Carol Ulrich and her husband Jack began juicing their personal stash of home-grown wheat grass at the Washington Cafe because they wanted to share its possible healing properties with neighbors and friends. Carol Ulrich is a walking testament to these possibilities. Carol has, for years, been able to keep bone cancer from spreading, but only as long as she is taking her daily dose of wheat grass.
Others seem to be experiencing similar successes with their respective health issues.
Terry Conner, who has been diagnosed with anemia, has been taking wheat grass every day for a month to help supply her with energy.
Kareem Saleeby, is taking wheat grass for his arthritis and overall well-being. “I’ve stopped the anti-inflammatory medications, and this seems to be helping my astio-arthritis just as well,” Saleeby said.
Even health-care professionals, such as most of the personnel from the Beaufort County Medical Center’s operating room, come for their daily shot of wheat grass, Carol said.
She said some of the men have even noticed marked new hair growth after drinking the wheat grass.
Jack and Carol Ulrich, on average, juice nine, one pound bags of wheat grass in one day. They are getting ready to increase their current orders, of 15 bags every other day, to accommodate their growing number of customers. The Ulriches say that the Washington Cafe is the only place in North Carolina east of Raleigh that offers juiced wheat grass.
“We have people drive to Washington from Edenton, Wilson, Elizabeth City for the wheat grass,” said Jack.
Toni Cooley, an owner of the Washington Cafe and Coffee Company, said, “We see having wheat grass here in the mornings as an enhancement to the cafe’s positive and friendly atmosphere and also to our healthy menu items, such as our fruit smoothies. We enjoy meeting the new customers it brings in. I take it everyday, and I feel great! My brain is alive!”