Medicinal Uses of Barley

Barley is annual, erect medicinal herb. Its whole plant is used in Ayurvedic system of medicine for treatment of diseases. It is known as Yavah in Sanskrit. Its seeds are also eaten as cereal. The seeds of barley plant are cooked as whole grain or grinded and used as flour. It is used to make dalia or porridge. Since the gluten content of barley is low, so it cannot be used to make bread. But it can be mixed with wheat flour to make mix atta. Barley seeds can be enjoyed as sprouts.

Barley health benefits
By Craig Nagy (originally posted to Flickr as Barley)[CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The sprouts has demulcent, expectorant, galactofuge (stops or reduces the flow of milk in a nursing mother) and stomachic (tones the stomach, improving its function and increasing appetite) activities. They are sometimes abortifacient (causes abortion or miscarriage). 

Barley is useful in lowering blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol, and for promoting weight loss.

In Ayurveda, Yava kshara is prepared from barley and used for treatment of numerous diseases. It is an alkaline preparation containing Potassium bicarbonate. Yavakshar is indicated in treatment of stones, urine retention, abdominal diseases, piles, liver and spleen diseases.

Latin name: Hordeum vulgare
Synonym: Frumentum hordeum, Hordeum sativum, Hordeum nigrum, Hordeum durum, Secale orientale
Family:   Poaceae or Gramineae
Vernacular names
Hindi: Jau, Bengali: Jab, Jau, Gujarati: Jau, Jav, Kannada: Yava, Javegodhi, Malayalam: Yavam
Marathi: Java, Tamil: Barliarisi, Telugu: Baril, Yava, Common Name: barley

In Ayurveda, Barley is used for treatment of various diseases. It is also useful in treatment of urinary calculi or stons of urinary tract. A clinical study done on Wistar albino rats has supported antiurolithiatic and antioxidant activity of barley seeds. Barley prevents calcium oxalate urolithiasis. It works by increasing urine output and thus decreasing concentration of electrolytes. This causes removal of calcium and phosphorus through urine. The result is decreased formation and the growth of urinary stone.

Barley has following scientifically proven properties

  • Diuretic activity
    Barley has diuretic activity. Diuretics are those agent which causes increased urine production. Increased urination helps body in many diseases. This helps body to get rid of excess accumulated fluid.
  • Antiurolithiatic activity
    Urolithiasis is formation of urinary stone anywhere in the urinary tract. Barley is one such medicinal herb that has property to prevent stone formation in body. 
  • Antioxidant activity
    The dictionary meaning of antioxidant is ' one that prevent or delay deterioration by oxygen'. Inside human body antioxidants protects cells and tissues from free radical damage. Free radical are damaged cells of body that attack other health cells. Thus the reaction causes more cell and DNA damage. This affects whole body and can be reason of various diseases.

Here is given few home remedies using barley or jau to cure or prevent various diseases

  • Stones, recurrent stone formation
    Regular intake of barley ensures prevention of stone formation. This will improve urine output.
  • Diabetes, Urinary problems, scanty urination, burning sensation
    Take 10 gram barley seeds, 5 grams sesame, and 3 grams of methi/fenugreek seeds. Grind coarsely. Take 500 ml water in earthen pot and soak the coarse powder at night. Next morning mash it and strain. Drink the filtrate empty stomach every morning.
  • Low haemoglobin
    Add barley in regular diet to cure anaemia. Barley is rich in phosphoric acid and iron. This helps to improve health.
  • Improving memory, balancing deranged pitta
    Regular intake of Jau helps to pacify pitta and also improves brain power.
  • Cough, phlegm
    Take barley whole plant/Panchang or seeds. Burn this to produce ash. Lick 1 gram of it with honey.
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