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Herbal Monograph

A herbal monograph is an break down of a herb. Herbalists use them to get to know the plants around us and how they can be used. It can be hand written in a journal or published in a more formal way. Those which are created tell the reader about the herb:

Its latin name, common name, plant family

What else it may be known as

What it looks like and where it grows

Whether it is wild crafted or a cultivar,

The parts of it that are used

How it is harvested and stored

Its chemical make up

Its known actions

Applications and indications

Whether there are any safety concerns

Dosage and preparations

Folklore

A summary


Attached is Wheat undertaken as part of my current Herbal studies:


Triticum aestivum

Common Name: Wheat

Latin Name: Triticum aestivum

Family: Gramineae/Poaceae

Synonyms: Triticum hybernum L.,Triticum macha Dekan. & Menab., Triticum sativum Lam.,

Triticum sphaerococcum Percival,Triticum vulgare ViII.


Description and Habitat:

Wheat is an annual plant which is grown from seed, either as Winter Wheat or Spring Wheat or wheatgrass. It has spread to “every land trodden by man” Callcott (1842).


The fibrous root sprouting from the basal nodes support future growth, nutrition and water uptake. Other nodes are situated along the stem, hidden and protected by a sheath. Nodes and sheath enable the leaves to be attached to the stem. The nodes also enable the stem to bend should it be flattened. The leaves form long, narrow blades. The node also allows grazed or cut leaves to continue to grow. At the top of the stem is the rachis where a compound spike is formed from spikelets. Pairs of sterile outer and inner glumes at the base of the spikelets are accompanied just above by the scale shaped palea and lemma. Once fertilized kernels form along the spikelets which mature to a golden brown colour when ripe. The stem is then known as straw. (Bayton and Maughan 2017)


Cultivation or wildcrafted:

Originating in the Fertile Crescent over 12000 years ago, originally a wild grass, wheat has become one of the main cultivated crops sustaining the world’s populations with a carbohydrate source. It has been genetically modified over the years to enhance its productivity, and characteristics to make it more suitable for most lands. (Roberts 2017)


Parts used: Germ, Grain, Grass.


Harvest, drying and storing:

Wheat germ Oil (Germ) is hot pressed, solvent or vacuum extracted. It can be macerated in another oil and then cold-pressed and stored in bottles. Its shelf life is short. (Kusmerick 2002)


Wheat whole grain (Grain) is harvested in the summer or autumn. It is stored in grain silos until needed. It requires a steady cool temperature and no exposure to oxygen or moisture. Stored at home it can be kept in the freezer or in oxygen free pails for 6-8 years. (Bulk Natural Foods 2020)


Wheatgrass (Grass) is harvested between 8 and 16 days of growth (around 10cm high).

It can be used fresh or can be microwaved or freeze-dried then powdered and stored in a cool dark environment. (Wong 2009, Singh 2016, Paret et al 2018)


Active constituents:

Germ: Vitamin E 190mg per 100gm, Vit A and B complex Essential Fatty Acids – Palmitic 14-18%, Stearic acid 0.5-0.6%, Oleic acid 16-22%, Linoleic acid 54-58%, Linolenic acid 4-7% and sterols beta-sitosterol and campesterol with others 3-5% and Lecithin 2% May contain trace amounts of gluten (Kusmerick (2000).


Grain: Endosperm: Starch, β-glucan, fructan. Bran: Dietary fibre, arabinoxylan and cellulose. Other bioactive components include tocols, sterols, phenolic acids, vitamins, minerals, folates and Gluten. (Andersson et al 2014)


Grass: Chlorophyll, flavonoids, vitamins C and E, minerals, proteins, flavonoids, alkaloids, glycosides, terpenoids, saponins, fibres, tannins and phenolic compounds. Gluten-free. (Jain and Argal 2014)


Actions:

Germ:

· Antioxidant (Battaglia 1995)

· Promotes the formation of skin cells and relieves dermatitis (Battaglia 1995)

· Improves blood circulation (Ryman 1996)


Grain:

· In cases of obesity can prevent fatty liver build-up (Schutte et al 2018)


Grass:

· Antioxidant (Parit et al 2018)

· Blood building (Ganora 2009)

· Hepaprotective potential (Jain and Argal 2014)

· Anti-Diabetic (Al-Alwaida et al 2020 )

· Immunity potential (Wen Tai et al 2013)

· Improves Digestion (Wong 2009)


Applications and indications:

Germ: Is used as salad dressings, and to make capsules and medical or supplemental preparations such as nourishing creams, face and body moisturisers and body milk. Seldom used on its own it is also used as a carrier oil in Aromatherapy particularly for an after sports massage aiding tired muscles. The oil is rich in lipid-soluble vitamins and so is good for revitalizing dry skin. (Price and Price 2002)


Grain: Used as flour to produce bread around the world to provide sustenance.

However, the milling process generally takes much of the beneficial properties out of the mix by excluding the germ where most of the sustenance can be found. It is, therefore, better to use Whole grain in moderation rather than the refined version (Fernie 1905). It is also used to make alcohol which is used in medicine. (Howard 1832)


Grass: Used as source of vitamin C and other minerals as a juice or powder sprinkled onto meals. (Singh 2016)


Contraindications toxicity and safety concerns:

Grain contains Gluten which for some individuals may cause a runny or blocked nose, nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhoea, hives/skin rash and in severe cases anaphylaxis. It may also cause fermentation in the gut (Allergy UK 2020)


Dosage and Preparations:

Oat and Wheat Bran Rub 2 tablespoons oats, 2 tablespoons wheat bran, 2 tablespoons fine salt, 2 teaspoons homemade infused oil – thyme will help with cellulite break down, parsley will help with water retention, rosemary will stimulate the circulation. Blend all the ingredients thoroughly. To use take a handful of the mixture in hand or on a dry cloth and rub into the skin using a circular motion. Brush off. This will remove dead skin and stimulate the circulation and drainage of the lymph glands bringing a healthy glow to the skin and helping rid the body of toxins. (Hedley and Shaw 1996)


Bartram reports juice 3-4 day sprouted grains are rich in chlorophyll and enzymes. Grass is sown on flat trays or flowerpots chiefly in the kitchen. They can be added to salads for a rich source of trace minerals.


Germ was suggested to be 10-25% of the carrier oil mix by Kusmerik (2002).


Folklore and traditional use:

Barker reports that “Pots of lentils and wheat sown on St Barbe’s Day (4th December) are popular provencal charms. If the seeds sprout by Christmas, luck for the year is assured.”


Yearly traditions were that the last wheat harvested would be turned into a Corn Dolly with witch repellent red ribbons to appease the corn spirit and give continuity of harvest into the following year.


Wheat meant fertility it was thrown over the bride at weddings to ensure her fruitfulness. In Wales grains of wheat one each for bride and groom were set on fire if they jumped from the shovel the couple would ‘bound into matrimony’. Its straw can also be used as bedding for animals or form other items i.e buildings, bowls or hats.


Summary

Steeped in traditions, this ancient grass has some researched medicinal benefits, although it is still primarily made into bread. Found worldwide it is part of many other consumables and items in the modern world.



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© 2019 Sarah Wright BSc MRCOT, MIFPA

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