Barley (Hordeum vulgare) Qualities, Uses, Remedies, Research

By Dr Renita D’Souza
Barley is a well known nutritional cereal included in diet. In Ayurveda, Barley is called Yava and included under daily recommended diet.

It is widely known for its scarping action (Lekana Karma) and hence indicated in Obesity to remove extra fat. Barley is the best diet in diabetic patients. It instantly nourishes the body. Traditionally used in the treatment of obesity, diabetes, urinary tract infections, respiratory disorders, digestive problems etc.
Read – Effective Obesity Treatment, Remedies And Ayurveda Tips

Ayurvedic home remedies

Traditional Remedies of Barley

  • Barley is dry roasted and grinded to a fine flour. This is commonly called as Sattu in India. The sattu taken in the form of gruel is used to treat Indigestion.
  • Decoction prepared with 2 grains of barley, stem of bark of Kutaja (Holarrhena antidysentrica) and black pepper is used to treat Malaria. It is given in the dose of 2 teaspoon twice a day for seven days. This remedy is used in Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh.
  • Flowers used orally and fruits intravaginally used by females for contraception.
  • Dried fruit decoction is used to treat diabetes, diarrhea, respiratory infections and urinary tract infections.
  • Externally the decoction of dried seed applied on hemorrhoids and infected ulcers act as emollient. Orally it used as remedy in diarrhea, hepatitis, scorbutism, nephritis, inflammation of urinary bladder, gout and Gout. It is used as diuretic and antipyretic.
  • For internasal inflammation the decoction of dried seed is applied on nose.
  • Boiled seeds compression used to relieve joint pain.
  • Dried seed infusion is used to increase the breast milk production. It is also used as remedy in dysentery, diarrhea, abdominal colic and other gastrointestinal disorders.
  • Hot water extract of entire dried barley plant is used orally to treat beriberi, cough, influenza, measles, syphilis, nephritis, jaundice, dysentery and hookworm infection of the small intestine. It acts as diuretic.
  • In infants hot water extract of dried barley plant is used in fungal infection of mouth (thrush).
  • Externally the extract of dried plant is used to treat prickly heat.
    Read – Quality Of Foods – Astanga Hridaya Sutrasthana 6 – Annaswaroopa

Barley Sattu

Barley is dry roasted and grinded to a fine flour. This is commonly called as Sattu in India. The sattu taken in the form of gruel is used to treat Indigestion.
Sattu is good to lower cholesterol, lose weight
It is useful in diabetes, as its glycemic index is lower than rice.
Glycemic index of boiled Rice is 73 +/- 4
Glycemic index of barley is 28+/-2 (reference)

Barley Sattu is useful in controlling hunger, hence beneficial in weight loss treatment.

How to use Sattu?
Sattu is used for preparing Paratha, Chapati, pancake, laddu, upma, etc.

Vernacular names

Botanical name – Hordeum vulgare
Family – Gramineae

Names in Different Languages
Sanskrit Name – Yava
English Name – Barley
Hindi Name – Java, Jo, Jau
Marathi Name – Java, Cevad, Jav, Satu
Kannada Name – Javegodhi
Tamil Name – Baali arisi, Barliyarishi
Telugu Name – Yava dhanya, Barlibiyam, Dhanyabhedam, Pachchayava, Yava
Bengali Name – Jaba, Jau, Jav
Gujarati Name – Cheno, Jau
Malayalam Name – Javegambu
Punjabi Name – Javo, Jawa, Nai

Medicinal qualities

Medicinal Qualities of Yava
Taste – astringent (kashaya), sweet (madhura)
Vipaka (post digestion taste) – Pungent (katu)
Potency – cold
Guru – heavy for digestion
Lekhana – has scraping effect
Mrudu – soft
Ruksha – dry
Sara – increases the intestinal movement
Pichila – slimy
Medha vardhana – increases intelligence
Agni vardhana – improves digestive fire
Anabhishyandi – does not cause block
Swarya – improves voice
Balakaro – improves the physical strength
Bahuvatamalo – increases vata and excreta
Varna stairyakari – maintains the skin complexion
Vrishya – aphrodisiac
Stairyakaro – stabilizes the body
Read – Ayurveda Mahodadhi: Legumes Green Gram, Chickpea, Peas

Properties as per Bhojana Kutuhala

According to Bhojana Kutuhala third chapter, Barley is dry and cold in nature, heavy to digest and sweet in taste.It is laxative and increases bulk of the stool,aggravates vata, it is aphrodisiac, imparts firmness and relives diseases related to urinary disorders and medodathu and cures diseases caused by vitiation of pitta and kapha. It also cures running nose, dyspnoea, cough, stiffness of thighs, diseases of neck and skin.

Remedies for Bloating, Joint Pain, Diarrhea

Barley Home Remedies: Bloating, Joint Pain, Diarrhea – By Dr MS Krishnamurthy

Few of its simple and effective recipes are explained here below-
1. Fried barley gruel for indigestion and diarrhea:
Good variety of barley is taken and fried a little. This is cooked well and gruel is made (thin porridge).
In cases of severe diarrhea, the supernatant part of the gruel is administered by adding little salt. Or the whole gruel is given after macerating it.  This serves as a nutrient and coolant.

2. Barley water for distention of abdomen and gastric regurgitation and bloating of abdomen:
De-husked barley is taken and cooked well with water. To this little salt or soda carb and lemon juice (or ginger powder) are added and mixed well. This is administered in the dose of 50-80 twice daily. This relieves gastric disturbances and distention of abdomen.

3. Buttermilk or curd cooked barley for repeated gastric disturbances and regurgitation:
A fist full of barley, 200 ml of buttermilk or 100 ml of curd and 200 ml of water are taken and cooked well. 
Or cooked barley is added to the buttermilk or curd and boiled a little.
As per taste and need, salt or pepper powder can be added. This is served along with food.

4. Fine paste of barley for muscular pain and joint pain:
De-husked barley powder is taken and dough is made by mixing with lemon juice or sour buttermilk. This is warmed a little and applied over the area of the muscular pains (deep) and joints. This reduces the pain in 3-4 days.

Barley water is considered to be a common man’s cheap and delicious gruel. It gives strength and keeps him cool. Also, as it is easily digestible it is indicated in most of the ill-health conditions. There is a need to popularize such millets and grains with its appropriate health benefits. In future, organically cultivated barley will have big market worldwide.

Sanskrit Verses from Nighantu

Traditional uses

Therapeutic Uses of Barley
Kanta aamaya – diseases related to throat
Diseases related to kapha and pitta doshas
Diseases related to Fat
Pinasa – running nose
Shwasa – asthma
Kasa – cough
Urusthambha – stiffness of thigh
Diseases related to blood
Trit – excess thirst
Prameha – diabetes
Sthula vilekhana – Scrapes the excess fat in obesity
Ruja – pain

Sodala Nighantu Shloka

Usage in diabetes

Barley uses In Diabetes (prameha)
Reference – Charaka Samhitha 6th chapter

  • Ayurveda science considers Barley as a beneficial diet especially in Prameha (diabetes). Different recipes of barley are mentioned to treat Diabetes.
  • Barley preparations – Barley Powder, Barley Jam (avaleha), Yavaudana (cooked barley), Vatya (barley porridge ), Yava Saktu (roasted barley powder), Apoopa (Pancakes), Dhana (fried barely)
  • In diabetes of Kapha origin, Barley preparations is taken by mixing it with honey.
  • Nourishing Diet – Barley soaked overnight in Triphala decoction is taken by mixing with honey. This is the nourishing diet can be taken regularly to overcome diabetes.
  • Barley soaked separately with each of the decoctions prescribed for the treatment of Kaphaja Prameha and taken by the Patient in form of Saktu (Roasted flour), pancake, fried barely and other types of eatables along with jaggery.
  • Barley previously eaten by asses, horse, cows, swans and deer is collected from their Dung and given to the patient suffering from Prameha.
  • Persons habitually taking roasted barley, dry corn-flour, green gram, and Indian gooseberry do not suffer from Prameha, Leucoderma, drysuria and skin diseases caused by Kapha.

Charaka Samhita Shloka

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most of the dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.

With western medicines
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.

Nutritional value, morphology

Nutritional Value of Barley
Carbohydrates 77.7 g, Sugars 0.8 g
Dietary fiber 15.6 g
Fat 1.2 g, Protein 9.9 g
Vitamin B1 0.2 mg (17%), Vitamin B2 0.1 mg (8%)
Vitamin B3 4.6 mg (31%) Vitamin B6 0.3 mg (23%)
Calcium 29.0 mg (3%), Iron 2.5 mg (19%)
Phosphorus 221 mg (32%), Zinc 2.1 mg

Morphology of Hordeum vulgare
Hordeum vulgare is an erect, annual grass growing up to 1 meter tall. Leaves are linear- lanceolate in shape, 15-25 cm long. Stem cylindrical, and smooth.
Read – Rice Combinations With Pulses, Vegetables, Grains, Soups

Barley types, Yavakshara

Yavakshara – It is the alkali preparation made with Barley plant. Used to treat urinary diseases, abdominal pain, bloating, etc 
Read – Yavakshara Benefits, Dosage, Side Effects, Ingredients, Reference

Varieties of Yava
Anuyava (small sized barley) is inferior in qualities to that of Yava. Venuyava (seeds of bamboo) is non- unctuous and hot in potency.

Research, chemistry, category

Barley as Nutritional Diet – A review article on Barley has concluded that barley can be included in main diet due to its high nutritional value and can be good substitute of carbohydrate, protein, fibres and minerals in diet.
Barley In Diabetes (Prameha) – A review article about barley the diseases specific diet in Prameha have concluded that consumption of barley preparations in diabetes lowers the blood glucose level.
Anti obesity – A research done to evaluate the anti-obesity activity of barley grass juice in high fat diet induced model have proved that barley grass juice is effective in management of obesity.

Chemical constituents of Barley Plant
It contains p- coumaroylagmatine, hordenine and its derivative, pyrrolidine, luteolin glycoside, flavones glycosides- orientoside and orientin, cynoglucosides-3- beta- D – glucopyranosyloxy- 2- methylpropene, 4 – beta – D – glucopyranosyloxy – 3- hydroxyl – 3- hydroxymethy- butyrobitrile.

Classical Categorization
Bhavaprakasha Nighantu – Dhanya Varga
Raja Nighantu – Shalyadi Varga
Dhanvantari Nighantu – Suvarnaadi Varga
Shodala Nighantu – Shukadhanya Varga
Kaiyadeva Nighantu – Dhanya varga

Ayurvedic medicines

Ayurvedic Medicines containing Yava as Ingredient
Prasoothika Kashayam – It is an ideal Ayurvedic tonic to restore strength in postpartum period.
Sarivadi Vati – Used in ear diseases, diabetes, bleeding diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, chronic fever, infertility treatment, epilepsy, alcoholism, and cardiac diseases.
Ajamamsa Rasayanam – Used in vata disorders like loss of strength, hemiplegia etc.
Agnitundi Vati – Used in indigestion and fever.
Dhanwantaram capsule – Used in vataroga, Neuro-muscular disorders, Hemiplegia, Paraplegia, Quadriplegia, Wasting disorders including phthisis etc.
Kolakulathadi Choornam –  Used for dry powder massage (Udvartana) to reduce fat. Also used to balance Vata – to relieve pain and inflammation, in cases of paralysis, facial paralysis, rheumatoid arthritis etc
Agastya haritaki rasayana – Mainly used in asthma and other respiratory disease
Sarvamayanthaka Ghritam – Used in the treatment of gout, Parkinson’s disease, neck stiffness, locked jaw, paralysis, thigh cramps, muscle cramps, liver diseases etc
Haritakyadi rasayanam – Used in asthma and consumption, hiccup, chronic fever, abdominal tumor, bloating, malabsorption syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, piles, constipation, cardiopathy etc.
Cervilon Oil – Used in the treatment of numbness of the hands, giddiness, cervical spondylosis.
Gandharvahasthadi Thailam – Used in the treatment of  bloating, abdominal pain, etc.
Zeotone Plus Soft Gel Capsule – Improves the functioning of joints by strengthening the bones and cartilages, prevents degeneration of cartilages, reduces inflammation etc
Coolmelon Syrup – reduces the body heat and burning sensation.
Dhanvantaram Ghrita – Used in snehakarma for the treatment of edema, abscess, hemorrhoids, anemia, toxic conditions, diabetes etc
Spineact Capsule –  Used in the treatment of Law back pain and Lumbago diseases
Proskin Capsule – used in the treatment of acne vulgaris and urticara.
Diucap Capsule – Increases urine output without any strain on the kidneys.
Dhanwantharam Thailam – Used in rheumatoid arthritis, osteo arthritis, spondylosis, headache and neuro-muscular conditions.
Click to Consult Dr Renita D’Souza

Oats and barley

Nowa-days oats is also sold in the name of Jau. Oat and barley both belong to Poaceae family. Because both are used for weight loss, low calorie diet, probably, the names are used interchangeably.
Oats calorie – 389.1 cal/100 grams
Barley calorie – 354 cal/100 grams
But between the two, barley is medicinally superior.

Habitat of Barley

Near to dessert areas of North Africa – sown in Autumn.
Moist areas of West Europe, North America – sown in Spring.
In India, it is grown in partly salty and alkaline soil areas. It is also used for brewing. Barley is cultivated in UP, Punjab and Rajasthan.

10 comments on “Barley (Hordeum vulgare) Qualities, Uses, Remedies, Research

  • Rohit

    16/10/2019 - 12:00 pm

    Nowadays Oat is also marketed as Jau , is it different than barley/jau or is it same family of grain ?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      29/10/2019 - 11:15 am

      Oat and barley both belong to Poaceae family. Because both are used for weight loss, low calorie diet, probably, the names are used interchangeably.

      Reply to comment
  • Gary

    15/11/2019 - 6:32 am

    I think the best varieties of millet for general use are kodo and barnyard. Like yava and gavedhuka were once main grains, it seems those higher in fiber are more suited to the modern lifestyle. Finger, foxtail, and other varieties having become popular, I think it is because many used to be active, like farmers, and needed the energy (such as from rice or urad dal) for work. Most do not live that life anymore.

    Question. Have you identified uddalaka? It’s grouped together with shastika in Caraka though sources identify it as a variety of kodo millet. Caraka lists it in Su.25 as best for fat reduction. Maybe even better than gavedhuka for kapha, though I do not know if it is still available, where to find it (only locally in India somewhere?), or how it compares to common kodo millet.

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      19/11/2019 - 10:55 am

      Indiviual millets will be covered shortly. Bhavaprakasha mentions Uddalaka as a sub variety of Kodrava. He calls it as Vanakodrava, it is grahi.

      Reply to comment
  • Gayathri sanjeev

    05/03/2021 - 7:46 am

    Dear doctor,
    Can a patient with leucoderma consume there any restriction…kindly reply
    Thank you
    Gayathri Sanjeev

    Reply to comment
  • Sathish

    09/05/2022 - 1:11 pm

    Is barley good for ibs patients pls reply

    Reply to comment
  • Srisatya

    07/01/2023 - 4:42 am

    Can we use sprouted barley?
    How can we consume barley during winter season?

    Reply to comment

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