Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.)

Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.)

Other common names: Cebada, barley grass, barley bran, pearl barley, pot barley, Scotch barley.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Family:  Poaceae

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Lowers blood sugar and blood pressure, lowers cholesterol and promotes weight loss. Anti-cancer, stomachic, cardiac tonic, anti-inflammatory, anti-diarrhea, antispasmodic, respiratory tonic, nutritive, antioxidant, immune boosting.


October through to the end of November.

Part used: Grain, sprouts, barley grass.


Tocopherols, tocotrienols, Vitamin E, iron, vitamins B3 and B1, selenium, copper, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, antioxidant phytochemicals, zinc, dietary fibre, soluble and non-soluble starches.


Helps regulate the bowels, supplement nutritionally, lower cholesterol and promote healthy weight loss. Diabetics use it to slow the absorption of sugars, making levels stay more constant throughout the day instead of spiking. This benefit lasts up to 10 hours after each time you eat barley. It is thought to be useful for preventing Type 2 diabetes for this reason. Also used for patients with hypertension, inflammatory conditions, digestive cramping and respiratory spasms caused by chronic bronchitis or chest colds. Useful for people who have been sick for a long period of time, and need to build up their strength and immune system gently.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Medicinal preparation: 


Teas, soups and other food preparations are common preparations to include barley. It is palatable, and can be incorporated into many dishes for medicinal benefit. Some use barley grass (juiced) for its enzymes, chlorophyll and associated benefits.


Barley can be used as a wash for skin inflammation or irritation, or as a hair rinse. A barley poultice can be applied to open sores, tumours or other surface injuries.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Contraindications: If you take barley in an oral form, wait at least one hour before taking any other medication, as the fibre can make it difficult to absorb other substances while the barley is digesting. Consult with a doctor first if you are taking any medications to regulate diabetes, as barley may interact with these meds. If you are pregnant or nursing, check with a doctor before taking supplemental doses of barley – and completely avoid barley sprouts during pregnancy/nursing.

I suggest consulting a pharmacist or physician before starting any herbal supplement if you are taking a prescription medication or have serious underlying health concerns. 

Energetic/traditional use: Many versions of the British folk figure John Barleycorn exist. Most of the stories and songs depict him suffering violent attacks, an allusion to the harvest and processing that this valuable food and drink staple underwent each season. In several European countries, barley was traditionally made into cakes and served during spiritual ceremonies and Pagan festivities. Barley is one of the herbs sacred to Demeter, Osiris, Bacchus, Asar, Dionysus, and Vishnu. It has been used ritually to determine if someone is lying, via the craft of alphitomancy. In Chinese medicine it is considered yin, and its energy is bland and sweet. It attracts health, luck and abundance.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is intended as general education on herbs and is not intended to take the place of medical care. Please consult a health care professional before embarking on any health regime.

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