Barley cereal grain and Barley Grass supplement health benefit (Hordeum vulgare)
June 2 2016 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.


Barley is a cereal grain with a nutlike flavor and its gluten content gives it an appealing chewy, pasta-like consistency. Its appearance resembles wheat berries, although it is slightly lighter in color. Sprouted barley is naturally high in maltose, a sugar that serves as the basis for both malt syrup sweetener and when fermented, as an ingredient in beer and other alcoholic beverages. Celiac disease is an immune-mediated systemic disorder elicited by the ingestion of gluten (found in wheat, rye, and barley) in genetically susceptible individuals.


Barley Constituents, what does it contain?

Barley has many compounds including gluten, beta glucan, the peptide lunasin, and antioxidants such as phenolic acids, namely, vanillic, caffeic, p-coumaric, ferulic, and sinapic acids.

Nature's Way Barley Grass supplement

Nature's Way grows its Barley Grass only on farms that use no chemical sprays or pesticides. 100 % Organic Barley Grass. No Additives or Diluents. Gluten free. This organic barley grass is 100 % whole leaf powder. We maintain the natural plant fiber and other benefits of the whole plant. On an equal weight basis, this barley grass has more fiber content than bran. Some products use only the dried juice of the barley grass. These products typically dilute the product with lactose, brown rice, or arrowroot as a carrier of drying agents. Here you get you the whole plant. Nothing more, and nothing less.

When harvested as a young grass before the ovule begins to move up and the grain to develop, barley grass has a nutritional profile more like that of a green leafy vegetable than that of a grain. Many consider this supplement to be a green superfood. This barley grass is grown in the midwinter and early spring on the Midwestern plains. Maturing slowly and tempered by the weather, natural barley grass has a greater nutritional value and a lower sugar content than wheat grass or barley grass sprouted indoors in a warm environment. Immediately after harvest, Nature's Way Barley Grass is dried by a special process that used dehumidified air rather than heat to remove the moisture. This process retains twice as much chlorophyll as conventionally-dried products.


Supplement Facts:
Amount Per Teaspoon:
Barley Grass 6 grams


Barley Grass was probably the first cereal grain to be cultivated by man. The cultivation of barley was well advanced when writing was developed, and written crop reports have been found in Egypt that date back to 2440 B.C. Barley was a sacred grain to he Egyptians and Greeks. The Chinese were cultivating Barley in 2,000 B.C. Barley was one of the first crops planted in the colony of Virginia in 1611.

In 2006 FDA finalized a rule that allows foods containing barley to claim that they reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Specifically, whole grain barley and dry milled barley products such as flakes, grits, flour, and pearled barley, which provide at least 0.75 grams of soluble fiber per serving, may bear the following claim: "Soluble fiber from foods such as barley, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. A serving of barley supplies [x] grams of the soluble fiber necessary per day to have this effect." Scientific evidence indicates that including barley in a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by lowering LDL and total cholesterol levels.  FDA began allowing the barley claim in December 2005 under an interim final rule, while at the same time accepting public comments on the rule for 75 days. During this time no comments were received that warranted changes to the interim final rule. Barley contains beta glucan.


Celiac Disease and barley

Celiac disease is a diverse clinical syndrome caused by intolerance of to certain grains such as wheat, barley and rye.


Barley and Blood Sugar Response

Comparison of hormone and glucose responses of overweight women to barley and oats.
J Am Coll Nutr. 2005. Diet and Human Performance Laboratory, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, ARS, USDA, Beltsville, MD
To determine the effect of particle size (flour vs. flakes) on glycemic responses after oats and barley (Prowashonupana cultivar), which contain high amounts of soluble fiber, are consumed by overweight women. Ten women, average age 50 years and body mass index 30, consumed glucose (1 g/kg body weight) and four test meals (1 g carbohydrate/kg body weight; 2/3 of the carbohydrate from oat flour, oatmeal, barley flour, or barley flakes and 1/3 from pudding) in a Latin square design after consuming controlled diets for 2 days. Peak glucose and insulin levels after barley were significantly lower than those after glucose or oats. Indexes for insulin resistance (HOMA, MFFM, Cederholm) after the oat and barley meals were not different from indexes after the glucose meal. Glucagon and leptin responses did not significantly differ for the carbohydrates tested. Conclusions: Particle size of the oats or barley had little effect on the glycemic responses. Both oat and barley meals reduced glycemic responses; the high soluble fiber content of this barley appeared to be a factor in the greater reduction observed.


Barley and Cholesterol

Diets containing barley significantly reduce lipids in mildly hypercholesterolemic men and women.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2004. Diet & Human Performance Laboratory, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, US Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, MD,
Barley has high amounts of soluble fiber but is not extensively consumed in the US diet. This study investigated whether consumption of barley would reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors comparably with that of other sources of soluble fiber. The addition of barley to a healthy diet may be effective in lowering total and LDL cholesterol in both men and women.


Bowel Function

Effects of barley intake on glucose tolerance, lipid metabolism, and bowel function in women.
Nutrition. 2003. Department of Environmental Health, School of Medicine, University of Yamanashi, Tamaho, Yamanashi, Japan.
The low consumption of grains that are rich sources of dietary fiber may be associated with the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases. This study was conducted to observe the effects of high barley (high-fiber diet) intake on glucose tolerance, lipid metabolism, and bowel function in healthy women. Conclusion: This study demonstrated that barley intake has beneficial effects on lipid metabolism and bowel function and suggests that the intake of a high-fiber food, i.e., barley, should be recommended to prevent chronic diseases.


Barley Leaf Extract

Effect of young barley leaf extract and adlay on plasma lipids and LDL oxidation in hyperlipidemic smokers.
Biol Pharm Bull. 2004.
Forty hyperlipidemic patients, smokers and non-smokers, were studied. Subjects received 15 g young barley leaf extract (BL) or 60 g adlay daily for four weeks. The plasma total and LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) levels were reduced following treatment with either barley leaf extract or adlay. Supplementation with barley leaf extract or adlay can decrease plasma lipids and inhibit LDL oxidation in hyperlipidemic smokers and/or non-smokers.


Germinated Barley Foodstuff

Germinated barley foodstuff prolongs remission in patients with ulcerative colitis.
Int J Mol Med. 2004. Department of Endoscopic and Photodynamic Medicine, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Hamamatsu, Japan.
Germinated barley foodstuff (GBF) is a prebiotic which increases luminal butyrate production by modulating the microfloral distribution. Germinated barley foodstuff has been shown to reduce both clinical activity and mucosal damage in active ulcerative colitis (UC) with mild to moderate activity. However, the efficacy of germinated barley foodstuff in patients with UC during the remission stage is unknown. Conclusion: Germinated barley foodstuff appeared to be effective and safe as a maintenance therapy to taper steroid dose and prolong remission in patients with ulcerative colitis.


Q.  I was recently diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and am trying both prescription and natural ways to get into remission. I was reading about the studies done of germinated barley foodstuff and how it helps those with ulcerative colitis. I can't find any supplements however that are called germinated barley foodstuff . According to the studies the barley must be germinated to be effective for ulcerative colitis. Can you help me locate a supplement (prebiotic) germinated barley foodstuff.
   A. We can't find a product yet that is called germinated barley foodstuff but we will keep our eyes open.

Q. I found a question your website from a reader who was searching for Germinated Barley Foodstuff for help with his colitis. There is actually a lot of research on this stuff on Medline, but most of it is from Japan. There does not seem to be a source in the US. I wrote directly to the researcher, and he sent me the following information: Dear Mr. Gregory Bravo: Germinated Barley Foodstuff is sold at web-site, but it maybe not available to deliver to oversea countries. Unfortunately, this web site is Japanese only. If you have a friend in Japan, he or she can purchase Germinated Barley Foodstuff. So, Germinated Barley Foodstuff is available, but you need to have a supplier in Japan to mail it to you.

Pancreatic cancer testimonial
Q. Father of a church pastor in Atlanta suffered with pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest cancers. He ingested barley juice from powder and his pancreas cured completely, cancer free. Most of the his church members are now on the barley juice regimen. Barley juice is claimed to have one of the highest superoxide dismutase levels.


I am wondering about the effectiveness of barley grass supplements for the treatment of acne! Have you seen any clinical evidence that such a product can help to clear up one's complexion.
   I have not seen clinical studies regarding the use of barley grass supplements for acne or skin disorders.

You state that barley is high in lunasin but is that only the grain (seed) or does that include the grass (leaf)?
   A. I don't know at this time.