Natural Health Tips

Ibn al-Qayyim: Barley Has Many Healing Properties

Ibn al-Qayyim mentioned in his Prophetic Medicine about the health benefits of the barley grain. He said that a broth of boiled barley in water was beneficial for a cough and sore throat, as well as cleansing the stomach and quenching thirst.

He gave the following recipe for this broth:

"Take a quantity of good, crushed barley, and five parts of pure water, put it all in a clean pot, cook it over a moderate fire until two fifths of it remain; then it is strained, and as much as is needed may be used with sweetener added."

He also described how a broth made from ground barley (talbina) had many healing properties, describing it as nutritious and filling, warming and soothing for the stomach, helping help to regain health and effective in maintaining bowel regularity.

What Is barley?

Barley is a member of the grass family called Poaceae. There are many varieties of barley grown throughout the world and only a small amount is used for human consumption; it is one of the main grains fed to livestock. Barley kernels must first be polished or "pearled" to remove the inedible hull.

Barley is a good source of insoluble and soluble fiber. The soluble fiber portion contains the richest source of beta-glucans compared to any other grain; these can lower cholesterol and aid immune function. Barley also contains B vitamins, iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, copper, and is one of the richest sources of chromium, which is important in maintaining blood glucose levels. Barley is also rich in antioxidants and contains a high concentration of tocols and tocotrienols, oils that help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Health benefits of Barley

  • Constipation and colon cancer

    A study showed that rats fed with barley had increased bowel movement and in another study, rats with colon cancer were fed varying high-fiber diets, and the group fed barley showed significantly fewer tumors.

  • heart disease

    The beta-glucan fraction in barley, which is also found in oats and mushrooms, is associated with reducing the risk of heart disease.

  • diabetes

    A small study showed promise in regulating blood glucose and improving insulin production when the subjects' diet included barley.

Tips on Using Barley

  • Whole barley comes hulled, pearled, cracked, flaked and in flour forms. Barley malt, a natural sweetener made from the sprouted form of the grain, is available in liquid or powdered form.

  • Adding barley flour to food increases soluble fiber in your diet.

  • Add cooked barley to soups, stews and salads. Add hot water to cracked barley for a hot cereal.

References

  • Behall KM, Scholfield DJ, Hallfrisch J. Diets containing barley significantly reduce lipids in mildly hypercholesterolemic men and women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Nov;80(5):1185-1193.

  • Behall KM, Scholfield DJ, Hallfrisch J. Lipids significantly reduced by diets containing barley in moderately hypercholesterolemic men. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Feb;23(l): 55-62.

  • Kanauchi O, Hitomi Y, Agata K, Nakamura T, Fushiki T. Germinated barley foodstuff improves constipation induced by lopermide in rats. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 1998 Sep;62(9):1788-1790.

  • McIntosh GH, Jorgensen 1, Royle P. The potential of an insoluble dietary fiber-rich source from barley to protect from DMH-induced intestinal tumors in rats. Nutr Cancer. 1993;19(2):213-221.