9 Surprising Benefits of Barley Grass

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated -

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Health benefits of barley grass include relief from ulcerative colitis and strengthening of the immune system. It cleanses and detoxifies the body, protects from radiation and cellular damage, fights addiction, and regenerates damaged cells and tissues. It also maintains healthy skin and an appropriate acid-alkali balance, contributes to bone metabolism, promotes agility, and exerts rejuvenating effects on the entire body.

What is Barley Grass?

Barley grass refers to the young soft green shoots which crop up on the barley plant. It is amongst the earliest grown sweetgrass in the world and traces its history even before 5000 BC. The discoverer of barley grass pronounces it as ‘nature’s best fast food’ attributing to its nutrient-dense profile and multidimensional benefits which were also the reasons for its popularity amongst the ancient Greeks and Romans. Apart from being used as livestock feed, recently it has been gaining a lot of popularity around the globe for its ability to cure a broad spectrum of diseases.

Barley Grass Nutrition Facts

Barley is a nutrient-rich superfood loaded with vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) and vitamin K (phylloquinone). It contains an abundance of electrolytes such as magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium along with other essential minerals such as zinc, iron, and calcium. Barley grass is also a rich provider of powerful antioxidants, essential amino acids, and beneficial enzymes. It also supplies valuable fiber to the body and does not offer any harmful cholesterol.

Health Benefits of Barley Grass

Barley grass can be consumed as a juice extracted from cereal grass sprouts or in the form of green powder by spray drying the grass. It brings relief in a range of health conditions discussed below:

Antioxidant Power

Barley grass has impressive antioxidants. Along with vitamin E and beta-carotene, barley grass is the most potent supplier of healthy and critical enzyme superoxide dismutase which helps neutralize the effects of oxygen free radicals produced during energy metabolism. The protective action of these radical scavengers prevents the development of a wide array of diseases caused by oxidative stress.

Relieves Ulcerative Colitis

Barley grass is valuable in treating ulcerative colitis attributing to its stimulating effect on the gut-friendly bacteria. It helps in alleviating inflammation and other associated symptoms implicated in ulcerative colitis by reducing the provocative chemicals in the bowel. This nutrient-rich food also assists in balancing the fluidity in the bowel eliminating accumulated toxins from the body.

2 fresh bunches of young barley grass with 2 glasses of barley grass juice on a wooden table

Natural Detoxifier

The cleansing ability of barley grass is effective in eliminating the harmful heavy metals from the body, including lead, which may cause behavior and learning disorders, particularly in kids. The major contributors to the act of detoxification are zinc, selenium, and copper. Furthermore, an abundance of chlorophyll and beta-carotene in these green shoots stimulates the eradication of waste materials such as mucus and crystallized acids. It also supports the metabolic processes and aids in strengthening and detoxifying the liver.

Boosts Immune System

Barley grass supports in boosting the immune defense mechanism of the body. Regular consumption provides the required nutrition which is necessary for balancing the optimal production of immune cells in the body. An effective and strong immune defense system vigilantly fights infections and prevents the development of fatal diseases.

Anti-cancer Potential

Barley grass has been experimented with in various diets for chronic disease prevention. However, its anti-cancer properties have yet to be fully explored. A study published in the Biomedical Journal May 2017 states that Korean researchers found that barley grass extract caused apoptosis of breast and prostate cancer cells and may be useful for cancer treatment during therapeutic interventions.

Protects against UV Radiation

Another beneficial effect of barley grass is its protective action against the cell destructing effects of UV radiation. It extends a therapeutic relief on the existing damaged cell owing to the presence of superoxide dismutase enzymes. Regular consumption of barley grass juice aids in reducing the stress in the people who are more prone to exposure such as population in urban cities.

It also acts defensively against the effects of radioactivity and even renews the cells and tissues damaged by radioactivity. This attributes to the presence of chlorophyll content which improves the resistance to radioactivity and also encourages the production of new blood cells. For this reason, it is generally recommended to drink barley grass juice pre and post-exposure to x-rays to provide a shield against the radioactive damages.

Fights Addiction

Barley grass is also a remedy for fighting various kinds of addictions. The presence of glutamic acid in it inhibits the craving for harmful materials such as alcohol, coffee, nicotine, drugs, and even sugary sweets.

Reduces Excess Acidity

Barley grass beneficially contributes to establishing the acid-alkali balance of the body attributing to its super alkaline nature. It is a natural alkaline source which helps in reducing excess acidity in the body which may cause acidosis damage. Imbalance of acid-alkali ratio in the body may lead to problems like sleep disorders, cardiac pain, fatigue, constipation, and fragile fingernails.

Prevents Signs of Aging

Barley grass is a natural way to stimulate the regeneration of cells without any side effects. Vital components such as chlorophyll, vitamin B, iron, and phycocyanin, a blue pigment in barley grass, improve the bone marrow and support the creation of white and red blood cells. This renewing effect of barley grass also helps prevent the signs of aging by rejuvenating the aging cells and helping to maintain healthy and youthful skin. The useful enzymes present in it improve the quality of blood, regulate digestion, and work as a rejuvenator tonic for the entire body.

Health benefits of barley grass - infographic

Culinary Use

Barley grass is used worldwide in soups and stews and for making barley bread. Barley is also used in the manufacturing of malted products such as malted milk, wine, and beer.

Apart from an impressive range of usage for humans, barley grass is also used to make hay and fodder for animals.

Word of Caution: Although barley grass is generally safe, some people may react sensitively to the barley grain with symptoms including vomiting, itching, and burning sensation in the throat and mouth. Such people should avoid the use of barley grass or discuss with a medical expert to better understand the reactivity.

While pure barley grass, without any grains, contains no gluten at all, people suffering from celiac disease should generally avoid the usage of barley products made from the grain as they may contain gluten protein. Celiac disease interferes with the absorption of vital nutrients in the body and may result in serious complications related to the brain, liver, and the nervous system.

Natural caution before trying barley grass for the first time is always advisable particularly when the sensitivity is not known. During special conditions such as pregnancy and lactation, it is recommended to consult an expert to understand the appropriate dosage and effects of barley grass to avoid any complications.


An abundance of superoxide dismutase in barley grass makes it a ‘wonder tonic’, which protects the cellular DNA from destruction, improves the body’s ability to deal with stress, and keeps the cholesterol levels under control. It also encourages agility along with physical and mental fitness. Barley grass is a blood builder and helps to purify it. Vitamin E in it contributes to regulating the hormonal balance and vitamin K plays a key role in maintaining the bone metabolism of the body. The mighty enzymes and other useful components such as glutaminic acid, present in barley grass, act as neurotransmitters and work against senility, concentration, and learning disorders. Include it in your diet to experience an overall strengthening and invigorating effect on the entire body.

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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