Latin name: Hordeum vulgare
What is Barley?
Barley is a nut-flavored, chewy cereal grain derived from the annual grass Hordeum vulgare. It appears in the market in many forms, including hulled barley, pearl barley, scotch barley, and barley grits. Hulled barley, the only form of barley considered a whole grain, is the most nutritious choice and, as the name would suggest, the outermost hull is removed from the grain.
First cultivated in the Near East over 10,000 years ago, barley has been used by ancient civilizations to feed humans and animals, make beer and to treat a variety of conditions. It is used in soups and stews, and in barley bread of various cultures, from Scotland to Africa.
What are the health benefits of Barley?
Barley has a long history in healing. In Islam, the Prophet Muhammad prescribed barley for many diseases. It was also thought to soothe the bowels. The healing effects of barley water for fevers are noted in the eleventh-century work The Canon of Medicine. In Asia, barley enjoys popularity as a roasted barley tea drink. Also, barley is sometimes used as a coffee substitute.
In traditional Chinese medicine, barley is considered cooling, and is thought to promote diuresis, strengthen the spleen, benefit the gall bladder, and detoxify. It is often used to treat edema, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, jaundice, and tumors.
Nutritionally, barley is a superb source of dietary fiber. It is also high in selenium, an important antioxidant, and a good source of phosphorus, copper, and manganese. Barley helps lower cholesterol and provides protection against colon cancer. A recent study suggests that eating whole grain barley can regulate blood sugar for up to 10 hours after consumption.
More information about the healing powers of Barley Grass can be found in the Herb section.
Where can I find Barley?
Barley can be found in most grocery stores.