Home / Chinese Herb / GERMINATED BARLEY [麥芽, MAI YA]


Name : Germinated BarleyGERMINATED BARLEY_opt

Chinese Name : 麥芽

Latin Name : Fructus Hordei Germinatus


This herb is the dried, germinated ripe fruit of Hordeum vulgare L. of the family Gramineae, available in every provinces of China. Like hawthorn, this medicinal agent is a stomachic that improves digestion. It is used unprocessed or stir baked to a dark brown.

The Chinese consider barley to be very nourishing. It prevents fever and provides vigor and strength  to the body. Continued consumption of  it is said to prevent hair from turning  grey. Germinated barley is considered to be stomachic, peptic, lenitive, demulcent, expectorant, and abortifacient.

Germinated barley (unprocessed) is a stomachic, and improves the appetite. Processed barley improves digestion and dyspepsia. Germinated rice and millet produce similar results.

Use of Germinated Barley in TCM

Sweet in taste and neutral, it acts on the spleen, stomach, and liver meridians.

Effects, Medicinal Uses, and Combinations

  1. Improves digestion: for indigestion, lack of appetite, dyspepsia, fullness in the stomach, and abdominal distension, germinated barley is often combined with hawthorn fruit and medicated leaven.
  2. Relieves stagnation and pain of the breasts (mastalgia), delectation (cessation of lactation), and distending pain in the breasts: for this condition, unprocessed germinated barley, or equal amounts of unprocessed germinated barley and stir-baked germinated barley: are made into a decoction in water for tea, and are taken daily to relieve a distended feeling and pain in the breasts. Germinated barley is also used for masses in the breasts in a decoction with bupleurum, tangerine peel, and cyperus or germinated barley (50 g) combined with 15 g each of  hawthorn and schisandra. This is divided into two doses and taken for seven to eight days to treat hyperplasia of  mammary glands.


To be used with caution by those who are breast-feeding.


In a decoction of 10 to 15 g; large dose can be 30 to 120 g.

Side Effects and Toxicity

The therapeutic dose does not cause adverse effects or toxicity. An extremely large dose caused  headache and constipation in some patients.

Chemical Constituents

Germinated barley contains several enzymes, diastase, peptidase protease, lipase, choline, hordenine, (amylace, invertase), and dextrin, phospholipids, maltose, glucose, and vitamins A,B,C and D.

Pharmacological Findings

  1. Germinated barley is a stomachic and is effective in helping digestion. Because of its digestive enzymes, the herb is able to digest carbohydrates and proteins.
  2. Oral administration of the decoction decreased blood glucose in rabbits and nondiabetic  rabbits.
  3. Hypoglycemic.