Annual grass growing to about 3 ft (1 m). Has an erect hollow stem, lance shaped leaves, and ears bearing twin rows of seeds and long bristles.
Habitat & Cultivation
Barley is cultivated in temperate regions worldwide. It is harvested when the seeds are mature.
Barley contains polysaccharides, proteins, sugars, fats, and vitamins B and E. The young seedlings also contain the amines tyramine and gramine.
History & Folklore
Barley has been consumed for many thousands of years. Dioscorides (1st century CE) recommended it “to weaken and restrain all sharp and subtle humours, and sore and ulcerated throats.”
Medicinal Actions & Uses
An excellent food for convalescence in the form of porridge or barley water, barley is soothing to the throat and provides easily assimilated nutrients. It can also be taken to clear mucus. Its demulcent quality soothes inflammation of the gut and urinary tract. Barley aids in the digestion of milk and is given to babies to prevent the development of curds within the stomach.
It is commonly given to children suffering from minor infections or diarrhea, and it is particularly recommended as a treatment for feverish states. Made into a poultice, barley is an effective remedy for soothing and reducing inflammation in sores and swellings.
The fiber in barley, like that in oats, has an established action in reducing fat absorption from the gut, aiding lower cholesterol levels. In common with other fiber foods, it may also help to stabilize blood sugar levels and to prevent bowel cancer.