Barley is most commonly used for heart disease and high cholesterol. It is also used for diabetes, obesity, cancer prevention, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these other uses.
In manufacturing, barley is used as a food grain, natural sweetener, and as an ingredient for brewing beer and making alcoholic beverages.
How does it work ?
Uses & Effectiveness ?
Likely Effective for
- Heart disease. Barley products contain high amounts of fiber. Foods high in soluble fiber can be used as part of a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet to prevent heart disease. Research shows that a person must eat at least 3.6 grams of soluble fiber each day to reduce the risk for heart disease.
- High cholesterol. Research shows that taking barley reduces total cholesterol and "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. The benefit might depend on the amount of barley taken.
Possibly Ineffective for
Insufficient Evidence for
- Stomach cancer. People who eat more fiber such as barley as part of their diet seem to have a lower risk of getting stomach cancer.
- A type of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis). Early research shows that eating food containing germinated barley daily for 4-24 weeks reduces the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. Other research shows that taking a specific product (Profermin) containing barley and other ingredients for 8 weeks reduces symptoms of ulcerative colitis and increases the chance of disease remission.
- High blood pressure.
- Stomach upset.
- Boils, when applied to the skin.
- Increasing strength and energy.
- Other conditions.
When applied to the skin: There isn't enough reliable information to know if barley is safe. In some people, barley can cause an allergic reaction after it has been applied to the skin. Symptoms may include skin rash and difficulty breathing.
Special Precautions and Warnings
Breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if barley is safe to use when breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity: The gluten in barley can make celiac disease worse. Avoid using barley.
Allergies to cereal grains: Consuming barley might cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to other cereal grains, including rye, wheat, oat, corn and rice. An allergic reaction is also possible in people allergic to grass.
Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with BARLEY
Barley might decrease blood sugar by decreasing the absorption of sugars from food. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking barley with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to be too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.
Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.
Medications taken by mouth (Oral drugs) interacts with BARLEY
Barley contains a large amount of fiber. Fiber can decrease how much medicine the body absorbs. Taking barley along with medicine you take by mouth can decrease the effectiveness of your medication. To prevent this interaction take barley at least 1 hour after medications you take by mouth.
Be cautious with this combination
- For heart disease: Barley products that contain 3.6 grams of beta-glucan (soluble fiber) daily, as part of a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet.
- For high cholesterol: 3 grams of barley oil extract, 30 grams of barley bran flour, or up to 6 grams of soluble fiber from barley have been used. In some cases, barley has been added to a National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Step I diet. Pearled barley, or barley flour, flakes, or powder in doses of 3-12 grams daily have also been used.
Behall, K. M., Scholfield, D. J., and Hallfrisch, J. Diets containing barley significantly reduce lipids in mildly hypercholesterolemic men and women. Am.J.Clin.Nutr. 2004;80(5):1185-1193. View abstract.
Behall, K. M., Scholfield, D. J., and Hallfrisch, J. Whole-grain diets reduce blood pressure in mildly hypercholesterolemic men and women. J Am Diet.Assoc 2006;106(9):1445-1449. View abstract.
Block, G., Tse, K. S., Kijek, K., Chan, H., and Chan-Yeung, M. Baker's asthma. Studies of the cross-antigenicity between different cereal grains. Clin Allergy 1984;14(2):177-185. View abstract.
Burger, W. C., Qureshi, A. A., Din, Z. Z., Abuirmeileh, N., and Elson, C. E. Suppression of cholesterol biosynthesis by constituents of barley kernel. Atherosclerosis 1984;51(1):75-87. View abstract.
Cronin, E. Contact dermatitis from barley dust. Contact Dermatitis 1979;5(3):196. View abstract.
Curioni, A., Santucci, B., Cristaudo, A., Canistraci, C., Pietravalle, M., Simonato, B., and Giannattasio, M. Urticaria from beer: an immediate hypersensitivity reaction due to a 10- kDa protein derived from barley. Clin Exp Allergy 1999;29(3):407-413. View abstract.
de Lumen, B. O. Lunasin: a cancer-preventive soy peptide. Nutr Rev 2005;63(1):16-21. View abstract.
Delaney, B., Carlson, T., Frazer, S., Zheng, T., Hess, R., Ostergren, K., Kierzek, K., Haworth, J., Knutson, N., Junker, K., and Jonker, D. Evaluation of the toxicity of concentrated barley beta-glucan in a 28-day feeding study in Wistar rats. Food Chem.Toxicol. 2003;41(4):477-487. View abstract.
Delaney, B., Carlson, T., Zheng, G. H., Hess, R., Knutson, N., Frazer, S., Ostergren, K., van Zijverden, M., Knippels, L., Jonker, D., and Penninks, A. Repeated dose oral toxicological evaluation of concentrated barley beta-glucan in CD-1 mice including a recovery phase. Food Chem.Toxicol. 2003;41(8):1089-1102. View abstract.
Delaney, B., Nicolosi, R. J., Wilson, T. A., Carlson, T., Frazer, S., Zheng, G. H., Hess, R., Ostergren, K., Haworth, J., and Knutson, N. Beta-glucan fractions from barley and oats are similarly antiatherogenic in hypercholesterolemic Syrian golden hamsters. J Nutr. 2003;133(2):468-475. View abstract.
Ehrenbergerova, J., Belcrediova, N., Pryma, J., Vaculova, K., and Newman, C. W. Effect of cultivar, year grown, and cropping system on the content of tocopherols and tocotrienols in grains of hulled and hulless barley. Plant Foods Hum.Nutr 2006;61(3):145-150. View abstract.
Ellis, H. J., Doyle, A. P., Day, P., Wieser, H., and Ciclitira, P. J. Demonstration of the presence of coeliac-activating gliadin-like epitopes in malted barley. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 1994;104(3):308-310. View abstract.
Fernandez-Anaya, S., Crespo, J. F., Rodriguez, J. R., Daroca, P., Carmona, E., Herraez, L., and Lopez-Rubio, A. Beer anaphylaxis. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1999;103(5 Pt 1):959-960. View abstract.
Granfeldt, Y., Liljeberg, H., Drews, A., Newman, R., and Bjorck, I. Glucose and insulin responses to barley products: influence of food structure and amylose-amylopectin ratio. Am J Clin Nutr 1994;59(5):1075-1082. View abstract.
Gutgesell, C. and Fuchs, T. Contact urticaria from beer. Contact Dermatitis 1995;33(6):436-437. View abstract.
Hinata, M., Ono, M., Midorikawa, S., and Nakanishi, K. Metabolic improvement of male prisoners with type 2 diabetes in Fukushima Prison, Japan. Diabetes Res Clin Pract 2007;77(2):327-332. View abstract.
Ikegami, S., Tomita, M., Honda, S., Yamaguchi, M., Mizukawa, R., Suzuki, Y., Ishii, K., Ohsawa, S., Kiyooka, N., Higuchi, M., and Kobayashi, S. Effect of boiled barley-rice-feeding in hypercholesterolemic and normolipemic subjects. Plant Foods Hum.Nutr 1996;49(4):317-328. View abstract.
Kanauchi, O., Fujiyama, Y., Mitsuyama, K., Araki, Y., Ishii, T., Nakamura, T., Hitomi, Y., Agata, K., Saiki, T., Andoh, A., Toyonaga, A., and Bamba, T. Increased growth of Bifidobacterium and Eubacterium by germinated barley foodstuff, accompanied by enhanced butyrate production in healthy volunteers. Int J Mol.Med 1999;3(2):175-179. View abstract.
Kanauchi, O., Iwanaga, T., and Mitsuyama, K. Germinated barley foodstuff feeding. A novel neutraceutical therapeutic strategy for ulcerative colitis. Digestion 2001;63 Suppl 1:60-67. View abstract.
Kanauchi, O., Mitsuyama, K., Homma, T., Takahama, K., Fujiyama, Y., Andoh, A., Araki, Y., Suga, T., Hibi, T., Naganuma, M., Asakura, H., Nakano, H., Shimoyama, T., Hida, N., Haruma, K., Koga, H., Sata, M., Tomiyasu, N., Toyonaga, A., Fukuda, M., Kojima, A., and Bamba, T. Treatment of ulcerative colitis patients by long-term administration of germinated barley foodstuff: Multi-center open trial. Int J Mol.Med 2003;12(5):701-704. View abstract.
Kanauchi, O., Mitsuyama, K., Saiki, T., Fushikia, T., and Iwanaga, T. Germinated barley foodstuff increases fecal volume and butyrate production in humans. Int J Mol Med 1998;1(6):937-941. View abstract.
Kanauchi, O., Mitsuyama, K., Saiki, T., Nakamura, T., Hitomi, Y., Bamba, T., Araki, Y., and Fujiyama, Y. Germinated barley foodstuff increases fecal volume and butyrate production at relatively low doses and relieves constipation in humans. Int J Mol.Med 1998;2(4):445-450. View abstract.
Kanauchi, O., Suga, T., Tochihara, M., Hibi, T., Naganuma, M., Homma, T., Asakura, H., Nakano, H., Takahama, K., Fujiyama, Y., Andoh, A., Shimoyama, T., Hida, N., Haruma, K., Koga, H., Mitsuyama, K., Sata, M., Fukuda, M., Kojima, A., and Bamba, T. Treatment of ulcerative colitis by feeding with germinated barley foodstuff: first report of a multicenter open control trial. J Gastroenterol. 2002;37 Suppl 14:67-72. View abstract.
Keenan JM. Whole grains, refined grains. Paper presented at "Experimental Biology 2000" meeting, April 17, 2000, San Diego, California. 2000;
Keenan, J. M., Goulson, M., Shamliyan, T., Knutson, N., Kolberg, L., and Curry, L. The effects of concentrated barley beta-glucan on blood lipids in a population of hypercholesterolaemic men and women. Br J Nutr 2007;97(6):1162-1168. View abstract.
Keogh, J. B., Lau, C. W., Noakes, M., Bowen, J., and Clifton, P. M. Effects of meals with high soluble fibre, high amylose barley variant on glucose, insulin, satiety and thermic effect of food in healthy lean women. Eur J Clin Nutr 2007;61(5):597-604. View abstract.
Liljeberg, H. G., Granfeldt, Y. E., and Bjorck, I. M. Products based on a high fiber barley genotype, but not on common barley or oats, lower postprandial glucose and insulin responses in healthy humans. J.Nutr. 1996;126(2):458-466. View abstract.
McIntosh, G. H., Whyte, J., McArthur, R., and Nestel, P. J. Barley and wheat foods: influence on plasma cholesterol concentrations in hypercholesterolemic men. Am.J.Clin.Nutr. 1991;53(5):1205-1209. View abstract.
Mitsuyama, K., Saiki, T., Kanauchi, O., Iwanaga, T., Tomiyasu, N., Nishiyama, T., Tateishi, H., Shirachi, A., Ide, M., Suzuki, A., Noguchi, K., Ikeda, H., Toyonaga, A., and Sata, M. Treatment of ulcerative colitis with germinated barley foodstuff feeding: a pilot study. Aliment.Pharmacol Ther 1998;12(12):1225-1230. View abstract.
Nakamura T, Kanauchi O, and Koike T. Toxic study of germinated barley foodstuff by 28 days continuous administration in rats. Pharmacometrics 1997;54(4):201-207.
Nakase, M., Usui, Y., Alvarez-Nakase, A. M., Adachi, T., Urisu, A., Nakamura, R., Aoki, N., Kitajima, K., and Matsuda, T. Cereal allergens: rice-seed allergens with structural similarity to wheat and barley allergens. Allergy 1998;53(46 Suppl):55-57. View abstract.
Newman RK, Lewis SE, Newman CW, and et al. Hypocholesterolemic effect of barley foods on healthy men. Nutr Rep Int 1989;39:749-760.
Nilsson, A. C., Ostman, E. M., Granfeldt, Y., and Bjorck, I. M. Effect of cereal test breakfasts differing in glycemic index and content of indigestible carbohydrates on daylong glucose tolerance in healthy subjects. Am J Clin Nutr 2008;87(3):645-654. View abstract.
Nilsson, A. C., Ostman, E. M., Holst, J. J., and Bjorck, I. M. Including indigestible carbohydrates in the evening meal of healthy subjects improves glucose tolerance, lowers inflammatory markers, and increases satiety after a subsequent standardized breakfast. J.Nutr. 2008;138(4):732-739. View abstract.
Pereira, F., Rafael, M., and Lacerda, M. H. Contact dermatitis from barley. Contact Dermatitis 1998;39(5):261-262. View abstract.
Peters, H. P., Boers, H. M., Haddeman, E., Melnikov, S. M., and Qvyjt, F. No effect of added beta-glucan or of fructooligosaccharide on appetite or energy intake. Am.J.Clin.Nutr. 2009;89(1):58-63. View abstract.
Poppitt, S. D. Soluble fibre oat and barley beta-glucan enriched products: can we predict cholesterol-lowering effects? Br J Nutr 2007;97(6):1049-1050. View abstract.
Poppitt, S. D., van Drunen, J. D., McGill, A. T., Mulvey, T. B., and Leahy, F. E. Supplementation of a high-carbohydrate breakfast with barley beta-glucan improves postprandial glycaemic response for meals but not beverages. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2007;16(1):16-24. View abstract.
Qureshi, A. A., Burger, W. C., Peterson, D. M., and Elson, C. E. The structure of an inhibitor of cholesterol biosynthesis isolated from barley. J Biol Chem 8-15-1986;261(23):10544-10550. View abstract.
Shimizu, C., Kihara, M., Aoe, S., Araki, S., Ito, K., Hayashi, K., Watari, J., Sakata, Y., and Ikegami, S. Effect of high beta-glucan barley on serum cholesterol concentrations and visceral fat area in Japanese men--a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. Plant Foods Hum.Nutr. 2008;63(1):21-25. View abstract.
Smith, K. N., Queenan, K. M., Thomas, W., Fulcher, R. G., and Slavin, J. L. Physiological effects of concentrated barley beta-glucan in mildly hypercholesterolemic adults. J.Am.Coll.Nutr. 2008;27(3):434-440. View abstract.
Thorburn, A., Muir, J., and Proietto, J. Carbohydrate fermentation decreases hepatic glucose output in healthy subjects. Metabolism 1993;42(6):780-785. View abstract.
van Ketel, W. G. Immediate type allergy to malt in beer. Contact Dermatitis 1980;6(4):297-298. View abstract.
Vidal, C. and Gonzalez-Quintela, A. Food-induced and occupational asthma due to barley flour. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 1995;75(2):121-124. View abstract.
Yang, J. L., Kim, Y. H., Lee, H. S., Lee, M. S., and Moon, Y. K. Barley beta-glucan lowers serum cholesterol based on the up-regulation of cholesterol 7alpha-hydroxylase activity and mRNA abundance in cholesterol-fed rats. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol.(Tokyo) 2003;49(6):381-387. View abstract.
AbuMweis SS, Jew S, Ames NP. Beta-glucan from barley and its lipid-lowering capacity: a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. Eur J Clin Nutr 2010;64:1472-80. View abstract.
Alberts DS, Martinez ME, Roe DJ, et al. Lack of effect of a high-fiber cereal supplement on the recurrence of colorectal adenomas. Phoenix Colon Cancer Prevention Physicians' Network. N Engl J Med 2000;342:1156-62. View abstract.
Anderson JW, Gilinsky NH, Deakins DA, et al. Lipid responses of hypocholesterolemic men to oat-bran and wheat-bran intake. Am J Clin Nutr. 1991;54:678-83. View abstract.
Anon. Consensus statement on cereals, fibre and colorectal and breast cancers. Proceedings of the European Cancer Prevention consensus meeting. Santa Margheritia, Italy, 2-5 October 1997. Eur J Cancer Prev 1998;7:S1-83. View abstract.
Aoe S, Ikenaga T, Noguchi H, Kohashi C, Kakumoto K, Kohda N. Effect of cooked white rice with high ß-glucan barley on appetite and energy intake in healthy Japanese subjects: a randomized controlled trial. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2014;69(4):325-30. View abstract.
Ashigai H, Mizutani M, Ikeshima E, et al. Roasted barley extract (Mugicha) containing cyclo (D-Phe-L-Pro) prevents a decrease in skin temperature in cold conditions: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2019;65(1):90-93. View abstract.
Behall KM, Scholfield DJ, Hallfrisch J. Lipids significantly reduced by diets containing barley in moderately hypercholesterolemic men. J Am Coll Nutr 2004;23:55-62. View abstract.
Brown L, Rosner B, Willett WW, Sacks FM. Cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fiber: a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69:30-42. View abstract.
Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 25th ed. WB Saunders Company, 1974.
Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Title 21. Part 101. Subpart E - Specific Requirement for Health Claims. Available at: https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=c7e427855f12554dbc292b4c8a7545a0&mc=true&node=pt21.2.101&rgn=div5#se21.2.101_176. Accessed on March 9, 2020.
Fasano A, Catassi C. Current approaches to diagnosis and treatment of celiac disease: an evolving spectrum. Gastroenterology 2001;120:636-51.. View abstract.
Fernandez-Anaya S, Crespo JF, Rodriguez JR, et al. Beer anaphylaxis. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1999;103:959-60.
Food and Drug Administration. Food labeling: health claims: oats and coronary heart disease. Fed Regist 1996;61:296-313.
Foulke J. FDA Allows Whole Oat Foods To Make Health Claim on Reducing the Risk of Heart Disease. FDA Talk Paper. 1997. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/ANSWERS/ANS00782.html.
Fuchs CS, Giovannucci EL, Colditz GA, et al. Dietary fiber and the risk of colorectal cancer and adenoma in women. N Engl J Med 1999;340:169-76. View abstract.
Garcia-Mazcorro JF, Mills DA, Murphy K, Noratto G. Effect of barley supplementation on the fecal microbiota, caecal biochemistry, and key biomarkers of obesity and inflammation in obese db/db mice. Eur J Nutr. 2018;57(7):2513-2528. View abstract.
Hallfrisch J, Scholfield DJ, Behall KM. Blood pressure reduced by whole grain diet containing barley or whole wheat and brown rice in moderately hypercholesterolemic men. Nutr Res 2003;23:1631-42.
Hapke HJ, Strathmann W. [Pharmacological effects of hordenine]. Dtsch Tierarztl Wochenschr 1995;102:228-32.. View abstract.
He J, Klag MJ, Whelton PK, et al. Oats and buckwheat intakes and cardiovascular disease risk factors in an ethnic minority of China. Am J Clin Nutr 1995;61:366-72. View abstract.
Jenkins DJ, Wesson V, Wolever TM, et al. Wholemeal versus wholegrain breads: proportion of whole or cracked grain and the glycaemic response. BMJ 1988;297:958-60. View abstract.
Kawka K, Lemieszek MK, Rzeski W. Chemopreventive properties of young green barley extracts in in vitro model of colon cancer. Ann Agric Environ Med. 2019;26(1):174-181. View abstract.
Keogh GF, Cooper GJ, Mulvey TB, et al. Randomized controlled crossover study of the effect of a highly beta-glucan-enriched barley on cardiovascular disease risk factors in mildly hypercholesterolemic men. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;78:711-18. View abstract.
Khaw KT, Barrett-Connor E. Dietary fiber and reduced ischemic heart disease mortality rates in men and women: a 12-year prospective study. Am J Epidemiol 1987;126:1093-102. View abstract.
Krag A, Munkholm P, Israelsen H, von Ryberg B, Andersen KK, Bendtsen F. Profermin is efficacious in patients with active ulcerative colitis- a randomized controlled trial. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2013;19(12):2584-92. View abstract.
Kromhout D, de Lezenne C, Coulander C. Diet, prevalence and 10-year mortality from coronary heart disease in 871 middle-aged men. The Zutphen Study. Am J Epidemiol 1984;119:733-41. View abstract.
Lembo A, Camilleri M. Chronic constipation. N Engl J Med 2003;349:1360-8. . View abstract.
Lia A, Hallmans G, Sandberg AS, et al. Oat beta-glucan increases bile acid excretion and a fiber-rich barley fraction increases cholesterol excretion in ileostomy subjects. Am J Clin Nutr 1995;62:1245-51. View abstract.
Ludwig DS, Pereira MA, Kroenke CH, et al. Dietary fiber, weight gain, and cardiovascular disease risk factors in young adults. JAMA 1999;282:1539-46. View abstract.
Lupton JR, Robinson MC, Morin JL. Cholesterol-lowering effect of barley bran flour and oil. J Am Diet Assoc 1994;94:65-70.. View abstract.
Morris JN, Marr JW, Clayton DG. Diet and heart: a postscript. Br Med J 1977;2:1307-14. View abstract.
Pietinen P, Rimm EB, Korhonen P, et al. Intake of dietary fiber and risk of coronary heart disease in a cohort of Finnish men. The alpha-tocopherol, beta-carotene cancer prevention study. Circulation 1996;94:2720-7. View abstract.
Reddy BS. Role of dietary fiber in colon cancer: an overview. Am J Med 1999;106:16S-9S. View abstract.
Rimm EB, Ascherio A, Giovannucci E, et al. Vegetable, fruit, and cereal fiber intake and risk of coronary heart disease among men. JAMA 1996;275:447-51. View abstract.
Schatzkin A, Lanza E, Corle D, et al. Lack of effect of a low-fat, high-fiber diet on the recurrence of colorectal adenomas. Polyp Prevention Trial Study Group. N Engl J Med 2000;342:1149-55. View abstract.
Singh AK, Granley K, Misrha U, et al. Screening and confirmation of drugs in urine: interference of hordenine with the immunoassays and thin layer chromatography methods. Forensic Sci Int 1992;54:9-22. View abstract.
Terry P, Lagergren J, Ye W, et al. Inverse association between intake of cereal fiber and risk of gastric cardia cancer. Gastroenterology 2001;120:387-91.. View abstract.
Van Horn L. Fiber, lipids, and coronary heart disease. A statement for healthcare professionals from the Nutr Committee, Am Heart Assn. Circulation 1997;95:2701-4. View abstract.
Weiss W, Huber G, Engel KH, et al. Identification and characterization of wheat grain albumin/globulin allergens. Electrophoresis 1997;18:826-33. View abstract.
Baker, P. G. and Read, A. E. Oats and barley toxicity in coeliac patients. Postgrad.Med J 1976;52(607):264-268. View abstract.
You Might Also Like
CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.
This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version.
© Therapeutic Research Faculty 2020.