Barley (Da Mai)
Botanical Name: Hordeum vulgare L.
Barley is well known for its anti-cancer and healthy heart attributes. It is a nutritious grain that is a staple in Tibetan cuisine. It is packed with fibers that help improve digestion, it is known as a high-fiber grain.
Below is an overview of Barley, combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Barley.
Western Name: Barley
Also Known As: N/A
Organs/Systems: Digestion, Nutrition, Immunity, Heart
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Digestive, Soothing, Anticancer, Anti-inflammatory, Sedating.
Pin Yin: Da Mai
Also Known As: N/A
Meridians: Spleen, Stomach, Gall Bladder, Heart
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Promotes Spleen and Stomach: indigestion, prevents constipation, diarrhea, supports immunity, edema. Benefits the Liver/Clears Heat: cools blood, fevers, supports the Gall Bladder, prevents gall stones, jaundice. Prevents Tumors: cancer.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Grain
Flavors/Temps: Sweet, Cooling
Caution: None noted.
History/Folklore: Barley was one of the first grains to be cultivated. It was being cultivated in the Near East some 10,000 years ago. It has a rich nut-like flavor. Barley is available in several forms: sprouted barley (also called hulled barley), pearl barley, scotch barley, barley grits, barley oil extract and barley flour. Hulled barley is the most nutritious.
Barley ripens before wheat, around the time of Passover, which meant in Biblical times that it could be subject to hail storms that destroy crops. The seventh plague sent to Egypt, was a hail storm that destroyed the barley and flax crops. This event lead to barley becoming known as the “overcomer.” The Hebrew month of Abib (green ears) refers to the ripening of barley.
In ancient Egypt barley was so important a crop that it was celebrated as a symbol of Upper Egypt. It was considered a gift of the gods. According to legend the goddess Isis brought barley to the peoples of the Nile from Lebanon.
In Babylon barley was used as a standard method of payment.
In ancient China barley was considered a symbol of masculine potency because the ears of barley have “beards” (hair) and many seeds. Barley water has long been used in China as a restorative and blood-purifying tonic.
In the Middle Ages barley was used to make bread and malts. The Celtic druids used barley grass juice to heal wounds and as a magic potion for their peoples during military campaigns.
Barley helps nourish the friendly bacteria in you large intestine, helping to maintain a healthy colon.
There is two-row and six-row barley, referring to the number of spikelets. Two row barley has a lower protein content than six-row barley, thus it has a more fermentable sugar content. The higher protein version is most often used when feeding animals. Two-row barley is used in traditional English ale-style beers. Six-row is more commonly in American lager-style beers.
The chance of suffering asthma was reduced by 72-88% in children who had high-intake of whole grains and fish, notably the Omega-3 from the fish and the magnesium and vitamin E from the grains.
The phosphorous in barley helps with cell repair in the body.
Hordenin is an Alkaloid that effects the body similarly to the hormone adrenaline, increasing blood pressure and balancing blood sugar.
In Islam, the Prophet Muhammad prescribed barley for many diseases.
Manganese, Molybdenum, Selenium, Fiber, Copper, Vitamin E, B1 and B3, Chromium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Lignans, Hordenin.
Calm Your Nerves
Barley water can be used to help reduce fevers and has long been used as a tonic to calm the nerves.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
The trace mineral copper that is in barley supports the grain’s ability to reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Barley contains only 5-8% gluten.
References: For a complete list of references please visit our References and Resources page.
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