Botanical: Hordeum vulgare
Family: Poaceae (haygrass) - Graminea (grass)
Other common names: Pearl Barley, Hordeum, Hulled Grain, Perlatum, Scotch Barley, Pot Barley
Barley Grass is an extraordinarily nourishing food and a powerhouse of essential vitamins, amino acids, minerals, antioxidants and many more nutrients that your body needs every single day to optimize your health. Try it as a support for improved digestion, detoxified system, increased energy, rejuvenated skin and healthier-looking hair and nails.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Barley Grass is an annual cereal plant that was cultivated in the Middle East about ten thousand years ago and is now widely cultivated throughout the world in temperate climates as a nutritional food grain for humans and animals. Remains of Barley grains found at archaeological sites in the Fertile Crescent (Israel-Jordan-Syria-Iraq-Lebanon area) indicate that the crop was domesticated from its Wild Barley relative and ancestor, Hordeum spontaneum, which still grows in the Middle East. Barley Grass is a stout, hollow stem (or culm) that produces narrow, ascending, tapering leaves and bears flowers in bearded terminal spikes that eventually generate the barley grains. The small bristles on the top of the Barley Grass are called awn, and the plant reaches about three feet in height. Barley will grow as a crop in acid, neutral or basic (alkaline) soil, but it must be well-drained and does not like shade. The plant can bear strong winds, but not maritime exposure, and is more tolerant of soil salinity than wheat, and may even thrive in conditions that are too cold for rye. However, Barley Grass can be tricky (and expensive) to grow; it is a tender grain and easily hurt in any stages of growth, and heavy rain can almost ruin a crop on the best-prepared land. After harvesting, Barley is processed to remove two outer hulls, which are inedible, and when the husk is decorticated (removed) from the grain, it is called Pearl Barley; Scotch- or Pot-milled Barley is the grain with husks only partly removed. Barley Grass was well known as a food and medicine to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. It was mentioned in the "Ebers Papyrus," an Egyptian compendium of medicinal herbs (c. 1600 B.C.) as a laxative, a remedy for expelling parasites and in poultices for burns and fractures. In Greece, Barley was included in ancient religious rituals relating to the cult of Demeter, the Greek goddess of agriculture and the green earth, who was often called the "Barley Mother" and said to unite the worshipper with the gods, bestowing divine power and life after death. In Rome, Barley was said to impart great strength and stamina to gladiators who ate it before entering the arena for combat, and Pliny the Elder (first century A.D.) wrote of its medicinal benefits, noting the important fact that it also produced a malt that became alcoholic when fermented. Barley was first mentioned in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) by the sixteenth century, when at that same time, it was still the chief bread material in Europe. Barley can be ground into flour, but because it has a very low gluten content, it is usually combined with wheat flours when used for baking. It has been a primary food source in the Middle East for centuries, and prior to wheat, it was a principle grain in many parts of Europe. Aside from its nutritional value and indispensable commercial use in foods (cereals, coffee substitutes, Barley water, soups, grits, salads, etc.), Barley Grass is a valuable stock feed and groundcover crop. Barley was initially introduced (as Barley malt) to the United States as a component for brewing beer and making whiskey, and is still widely used for that purpose when the grain is of high quality. It is also made into a natural sweetener called malt sugar or Barley jelly sugar. Barley is considered one of the "green grasses" (reflecting its rich chlorophyll content) and has been a staple in the human diet for thousands of years. It is a whole food (and the only food) that can actually be a sole source of nutrition for a person's entire lifespan. Barley Grass is an amazing storehouse of nutrients that include beta-carotene, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B12, folic acid, pantothenic acid and the antioxidant vitamins E and C (seven times more than orange), potassium, calcium (eleven times more than milk), potassium, magnesium, iron, sulfur, copper, phosphorus, manganese, selenium and zinc. It also includes starch, high chlorophyll, protein, cellulose, enzymes (including the antioxidant superoxide dismutase/SOD) , beta-glucan (a soluble fiber and bioactive ingredient believed to give Barley many of its health benefits), hordenine (an alkaloid) and a wide spectrum of amino acids (approximately twenty, including all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce).
Barley Grass is a wonderful demulcent that contains a mucilaginous substance, which relieves inflammation and soothes throat and stomach distress. It also acts as a stomachic that tones and strengthens the stomach. As an herbal digestive aid, this quality assists the digestive tract and helps to relieve dyspepsia (including lacto-dyspepsia in children), flatulence, heartburn, nausea, gastrititis, duodenal and peptic ulcers, and also helps to improve the appetite.
Further supporting the use of Barley Grass as an herbal demulcent, it is said to soothe intestinal irritation and ease many intestinal problems, including ulcerative colitis. It has also been suggested as a treatment for mild constipation (reaffirming its use as a laxative by the ancient Egyptians). Due to its fiber content, Barley Grass is further thought to increase fecal weight and accelerate gastrointestinal transit, which helps to remove wastes from the body more quickly and efficiently. These actions help to improve colon health, facilitate daily regularity and may also be helpful in preventing serious malignant bowel disease.
Recent data suggest that Barley Grass has hypocholesteromic properties, acting to improve cardiovascular health by reducing total cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins (LDLs or bad cholesterol) in mildly hyperlipidemic patients. Barley contains beta-glucan, a soluble fiber that is reported to be responsible for lowering cholesterol levels, and a modest inverse association has been observed between dietary fiber intake and cardiovascular disease. Moreover, the alkaloid, hordenine, in Barley Grass is thought to stimulate blood circulation; and both improved circulation and lower cholesterol are considered helpful in preventing arteriosclerosis, stroke and heart attack.
Barley Grass is considered a powerful antioxidant and immuno-stimulant. Many of the vitamins, minerals and enzymes present in Barley Grass act to protect the body from free radical damage and enhance our immune systems. Antioxidant enzymes, such as the free-radical scavenger, superoxide dismutase (SOD), and the antioxidant, 2''-O-glucosylisovitexin (2"-O-GIV), have been isolated, and 2"O-GIV is reported to possess antioxidant activity that is superior even to vitamin E. These qualities are believed to be helpful in preventing serious invasive disease.
As an exceptional whole food, Barley Grass provides many essential nutrients that act together to optimize bodily functions. It is easily assimilated into the system, giving our body quick access to vital nutrients and, thus, likely increase strength and stamina. Barley Grass is considered especially useful for invalids, children and those in debilitated conditions.
Further supporting the use of Barley Grass as a nutritive, it is said that athletes and sports people who need more strength and stamina rely on Barley Grass, echoing its use in ancient Rome, where gladiators ate Barley before entering the arena. It is an energy-packed food and is even believed to increase sexual stamina.
Barley Grass is a great blood purifier and cell detoxifier and is believed to facilitate the removal of poisons from the body. One reason is that its rich chlorophyll content acts synergistically with other nutrients to remove destructive toxins, such as heavy metals and pollutants that we digest every day and is also thought to counteract the toxic effects of modern western dietary habits. Barley Grass is also said to renew tissue, rebuild cells and reduce cellular damage from x-rays and hepatitis.
Barley is considered one of the green grasses (reflecting its rich chlorophyll content), and chlorophyll-rich foods have been shown to counteract bad breath and body odor, stop bacterial growth, combat yeast fungi and detoxify the body of drugs and carcinogens.
Barley Grass is naturally alkaline, and its buffer minerals are said to neutralize excess acidic materials in the body and help maintain a healthy acidity/alkalinity balance.
As an expectorant, Barley Grass is believed to help loosen and expel phlegm and congestion. The herb's alkaloid, hordenine, is said to be a broncho-dilator and beneficial in cases of asthma, coughs and bronchitis.
Barley Grass is believed to be an effective anti-inflammatory. Recent research has discovered that it includes compounds (including chlorophyll) that relieve inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and rheumatism.
Because Barley Grass is said to repair and rebuild cells and tissue, it is thought to be good for skin rejuvenation, improved skin, nails and hair.
There are current studies being conducted into the use of Barley Grass to control diabetes. It is believed to have a hypoglycemic effect, preceded by a hyperglycemic action. The high fiber is thought to be useful in diabetes patients when there is a low glycemic index and ability to reduce postprandial glucose. Barley Grass may reduce high blood sugar and improve glucose tolerance; however, more research is needed before any conclusions may be drawn.
Barley Grass is considered a fine emollient or agent that softens and soothes tissue, and when used externally in a poultice, it is said to relieve sores, burns, tumors and wounds.
Barley Grass Herbal Supplement is not recommended for pregnant women, and nursing mothers may wish to avoid the herb, as it is said to reduce excessive lactation and can reduce milk flow.