Herbs & Botanicals
Germinated Barley (mai ya)
What is germinated barley? What is it used for?
Also known as malt, germinated barley is the end product that comes from the fermentation and drying of barley, an annual cereal plant that grows worldwide. Germinated barley is made by soaking barley corn in water at a properly maintained temperature and humidity, then taking the sprouts out after they reach a length of approximately .5 centimeters. At that point, they are dried. The sprouts can either be used raw, or after being parched.
Based on the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, germinated barley has been ascribed sweet and neutral properties, and is associated with the Spleen, Stomach and Liver meridians. Its main functions are to eliminate retention of food and harmonize the stomach, to restrain lactation in women, and to promote the flow of liver qi.
Germinated barley contains digestive enzymes and vitamin B, which can assist in digestion. It is used to treat stagnant liver and stomach qi conditions such as distention, fullness in the chest, and epigastric pain. In women, it helps to stop lactation and ease the pain associated with distended breasts. It also helps to promote one's appetite. In addition, barley can be applied to the skin to treat burns and wounds.
How much germinated barley should I take?
The typical dose of germinated barley is between 10 and 15 grams, decocted in water for oral use. Raw barley is used to promote digestion, while parched barley is employed primarily to stop milk secretion and treat flatulence.
What forms of germinated barley are available?
Whole, dried germinated barley is available at many herbal shops and specialty markets.
What can happen if I take too much germinated barley? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?
Because germinated barley stops lactation, it should not be used by women who are breastfeeding. In addition, chemicals in germinated barley can promote contractions in women during childbirth, so it should not be taken by women who are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking germinated barley or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.
- Bamba T, Kanauchi O, Andoh A, et al. A new prebiotic from germinated barley for nutraceutical treatment of ulcerative colitis. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2002;17(8):818-824.
- Fukuda M, Kanauchi O, Araki Y, et al. Prebiotic treatment of experimental colitis with germinated barley foodstuff: a comparison with probiotic or antibiotic treatment. International Journal of Molecular Medicine 2002;9(1):65-70.
- Hanai H, Kanauchi O, Mitsuyama K, et al. Germinated barley foodstuff prolongs remission in patients with ulcerative colitis. International Journal of Molecular Medicine 2004;13(5):643-647.
- Li J, Kaneko T, Qin LQ, et al. Effects of barley intake on glucose tolerance, lipid metabolism, and bowel function in women. Nutrition 2003;19(11-12):926-929.
- Lupton JR, Morin JL, Robinson MC. Barley bran flour accelerates gastrointestinal transit time. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 1993 ;93(8):881-885.