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Wheatgerm Oil - Triticum vulgare, T. durum, T. aestivum

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Wheatgerm Oil - Triticum vulgare, T. durum, T. aestivum

Latin Name: Triticum vulgare,T.durum,T.aestivum

Family: Graminae

Etymology: Wheat is derived from whete, the Middle English (1151-1500) word which means white.

The Plant and its Environment
A cereal grass native to West Asia but widely cultivated in subtropical and temperate regions. The stems, up to 1 metre ( 3 feet) high. Each bear a cylindrical head of up to a hundred flower clusters grouped in vertical rows.

T. durum is used for making semolina and pasta, while T. aestivum is used for bread. The wheat germ consists of the husk (bran) 12%, the germ 3% (containing vitamins, minerals and protein, with the endosperm, consisting mainly of starch, making up the rest.

The Oil
The oil contains high levels of vitamin E, a natural antioxidant, so it can be added to other carrier oils to act as a preservative. Although it is fairly expensive, the wheat germ oil is the richest food source we have for vitamin E; soybean oil also has a high tocopherol content. The unrefined wheatgerm oil has a strong odour which some people find unattractive.


Method Of Extraction
Milling the grains of wheat germ for white flour separates out the wheat germ, which contains 25% protein, and a wide selection of vitamins and minerals. The oil is extracted from the germ but it should be noted that it is not possible to achieve pure cold pressed oil. Wheatgerm, like grapeseed, contains only around 13% of oil, so cold expression would produce marginal amounts.

Because of this, the oil is extracted in a process that is similar to maceration (Steir 1990) but solvent extraction and hot pressing are also used. The wheatgerm is stirred with a good quality cold pressed oil, during which process the germ soaks up the base oil.

This product is then cold pressed, yielding a form of macerated oil, which contains one third of wheatgerm oil and two thirds base oil (eg olive, sweet almond, sunflower etc). The constituents may vary because of the precise method of extraction.

Principal Constituents

Type Based On Content -%
Saturate fatty acid Units     
C14:0 myristic acid  <0.1 
C16:0  palmitic acid  19 (11-12) 
C18:0   stearic acid
C20:0  arachidic acid <1 
C24:0 lignoceric acid  <1
Typical saturated fatty acid unit content    21 
Monounsaturated fatty acid units     
C16:1 palmitoleic acid  0.2 
C18:1  oleic acid  18 (15-20) 
Typical monounsaturated fatty acid content    18 
Polyunsaturated fatty acid units     
C18:2  linoleic acid  54 (49-60) 
C18:3  linolenic acid 
Typical polyunsaturated fatty acid unit content    60 

Reference: Carrier Oils For Aromatherapy & Massage: Len Price with Ian Smith & Shirley Price

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