Hordeum vulgare, or barley, is a plant belonging to the Graminaceae family that has been cultivated and known since prehistoric times. Barley has very interesting nutritional properties, it is, in fact, rich in minerals such as phosphorus, important for memory and cognitive functions, iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, manganese and copper, by resulting, for this reason, a cereal with a protective action on the bones and with remineralizing properties.
In addition to this barley contains also vitamins such as vitamin A, group B, E, which is a powerful antioxidant, K, but also phytoestrogens with a protective action against certain types of cancer and fibers, important against constipation. In fact, barley provides a type of soluble fiber, beta-glucans, able to reduce the total cholesterol and LDL, the bad cholesterol, and to control the levels of blood sugar. However, it is important to be careful for what concerns the type of barley, indeed it is better to use the hulled or husked barley, because the pearl barley, easier to find, has lost a lot of fiber after the treatments it is subjected to. Barley is a very versatile grain, it can be used to prepare soups, salads or it can be used as a tasty side dish. However, this cereal contains gluten, although in small quantities, so avoid taking it if you suffer from celiac disease. Barley can also be used as a decoction with beneficial properties for the intestine. Thanks to its emollient properties it is helpful in many gastrointestinal problems, poor digestion or constipation, and, thanks to the anti-inflammatory action barley decoction is a valuable remedy in case of cystitis. The decoction is also very useful to gargle in case of sore throat and inflammations of the oral cavity. To prepare the herbal tea boil a liter of water together with two tablespoons of barley, hulled or pearled or a mix of the two, let it boil for thirty minutes, remove from the fire, filter and use to drink or to gargle. Barley decoction can also be applied locally to treat skin inflammation.