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Barley Grass – Health Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects

Barley grass is the leaf of the barley plant, which is a cereal plant from the family Graminae, Poaceae. It grows in a wide range of climatic conditions.

It is the fourth largest grown crop in the world which comes after Wheat, Rice and Corn.

Its grain is used for the therapeutic purposes.


Habitat Cultivated as food crop in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

English Name

Barley, Barley Bran, Cereal fiber, Dietary fiber, Green Barley Grass

Sanskrit names

Yava, Hayapriya, Shuka-dhanya, Tikshnashuka

Botanical name

Hordeum vulgare

Health Benefits of Barley grass

  • In ayurveda, it is mainly used in diabetes disorder as it helps to alleviate the blood sugar level and cholesterol.
  • It also decrease the appetite since its digestion period is longer in comparative to other grains.

  • Since barley is a natural source of sodium which is needful for the stomach lining to produce hydrochloric acid which is an essential entity in the process of digestion of food, it improves digestion.
  • It is rich in digestion aiding enzymes which results in the overall improvement of the digestion process.
  • It contains chlorophyll, which acts miraculously to counter the harmful effects caused by the processed food on the bacterial fauna family in our GI tract which are the chief powerful constituents in the digestion affair. So it acts as a natural cleanser for our body.
  • It has nutritional benefits. The nutritional quality of the barley depends on beta-glucan fraction of the grain. Beta-glucan-enriched fraction produced cholesterol-lowering effect in hamsters.
  • It acts as demulscent during convalescence and in cases of bowel inflammation and diarrhea.
  • It reduces the bad low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
  • It increases strength and energy in the body.
  • It protects the immune system (due to presence of Vitamin C)
  • It protects the body against the liver cancer.
  • It nourishes our nervous system and recovers the memory loss due to the presence of acetylcholine.
  • The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India recommends barley in urinary disorders, muscular rigidity, chronic sinusitis, cough, asthma, lipid disorder and obesity.
  • Juice of young barley leaves is:
  • Richer in vitamin C than oranges,
  • Richer in iron than spinach
  • Richer in potassium than wheat;
  • High in SOD (superoxide dismutase), an enzyme that slows ageing of cells.
  • Naked barley extracts have been found to selectively inhibit cyclohexanase activity and may be useful as a therapeutic drug for treating thrombosis and atherosclerosis.
  • It is rich in carbohydrates with proteins, calcium and phosphorus.
  • It contains small amount of vitamin B2 which helps the body to break down the carbohydrates, fats and proteins to produce energy. It also facilitates the body to use oxygen.
  • It is an excellent source for the phenolic compounds.
  • Ethanol extract of young green leaves exhibits antioxidant activity attributed to a flavanoid.
  • It also exhibits anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic activities.

 The leaves contain an indole alkaloid, gramine, which exhibits antibacterial properties.


A research was conducted on four varieties of the Barley. In those experiments, their phenolic composition, anti-oxidant properties and anti-proliferative activities were analyzed.

Phenolic compounds such as gallic acid, flavanoids, catechin and ferulic acid are the dominant compounds in those varieties.

These compounds showed a good weightage of anti-oxidant activities which are obviously determined by the oxygen radical absorbance capacity and cellular oxidant activity.

Also they showed anti-proliferative activity towards HepG2 human liver cancer cells.

Therapeutic uses 

The decoction of its dried fruit is consumed orally in:
  • Diarrhea
  • Respiratory tract infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Diabetes
  • Hepatitis
  • Bladder inflammation
  • Enema
Hot water extract of dried plant and fruit is used for:
  • Beriberi
  • Cough
  • Influenza
  • Measles
  • Syphilis
  • Nephritis
  • Jaundice
  • Dysentery
  • Abortion
  • Common cold
  • Kidney diseases
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Infected ulcers
  • Kasa (Cough)
  • Svasa  (Asthma)
  • Urustambha (Spasticity)


  • Decoction of the dried fruits is used in china.
  • Equal quantity of seeds of Cicer arietinum, Daucus carrota, Hordeum vulgare, Oryza sativa, Triticum aestivum and Zea mays (yellow variety) are ground and made into powder. The bread is cooked from this mixed flour and taken as breakfast with fresh butter of cow for 2-month. This remedy is used as dietary supplement to control diabetes.

Powdered flower of Calotropis procera, fruits of Piper nigrum,seed ash of H. vulgare (Barley) and rose water are taken orally for cholera in India.


Leaf juice is useful for cataract.


Hot water extracts of fruit and dried seeds are taken orally by pregnant women to induce abortion in S. Korea.


Flowers are taken orally by female for contraception in Afghanistan.

  • Decoction of the dried fruit is taken orally for diarrhea in Argentina.
  • Decoction of dried seeds is used orally for diarrhea in Iran.

Hot water extract of dried whole plant is taken orally for dysentery in Korea.


Barley is also useful in fever and all inflammatory conditions on account of its soothing properties.

Gout and Rheumatism
  • Decoction of dried seeds is used orally for gout in Iran.
  • Barley flour can be used externally for gout and rheumatism by putting on joints like a plaster.

A decoction of dried seeds is used orally for hepatitis in Iran.

  • Hot water extract of dried whole plant is taken orally for jaundice in Korea.
  • Dried seeds are grounded. Powder is mixed with water andsugar is taken orally thrice a day for a month.
Internasal Inflammations

The decoction of the seeds is also applied to the nose to reduce the internasal inflammation in Iran.

Side Effects of Barley grass

  • It is rich in Vitamin k so it may interfere with the anticoagulants actions of some drugs.
  • There may be some allergic reactions.
  • It should be avoided in hypersensitive people and the ones with celiac disease.

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