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Yava - Hordeum vulgare

Yava - Hordeum vulgare - Poaceae


Hordeum vulgare Barley (Hordeum vulgare), a member of the grass family, is a major cereal grain grown in temperate climates globally. It was one of the first cultivated grains, particularly in Eurasia as early as 10,000 years ago.Barley has been used as animal fodder, as a source of fermentable material for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods. It is used in soups and stews, and in barley bread of various cultures. Barley grains are commonly made into malt in a traditional and ancient method of preparation.


Barley was one of the first domesticated grains in the Fertile Crescent, an area of relatively abundant water in Western Asia, and near the Nile river of northeast Africa. The grain appeared in the same time as einkorn and emmer wheat. Wild barley (H. vulgare ssp. spontaneum) ranges from North Africa and Crete in the west, to Tibet in the east. According to some scholars, the earliest evidence of wild barley in an archaeological context comes from the Epipaleolithic at Ohalo II at the southern end of the Sea of Galilee. The remains were dated to about 8500 BCE. Other scholars have written that the earliest evidence comes from Jarmo in Kurdistan (present day Iraq).

Taxonomical Classification

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom: Streptophyta
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Hordeolum
Species: Hordeum vulgare

Allied species:

It is used in a wide range in Indian system of medicine (Ayurveda) and described under Shukadhanya Varga. The cereal description is available since times of Vedas and Puranas (Upanishads, Shatapata brahmana), Atharvaveda, Agnipurana. The usage of Yava both as Pathya & Oushadha is established in ancient texts and modern research experiments. 


Sanskrit: aksata, akshata, dhanyaraja, divya
English: Barley , Common barley, Cultivated barley, Hooded barley, Malting barley.
Hindi: जव jav, जौ jau
Urdu: jao, jav
Telugu: barlibiyam, dhanuabhedam
Bengali: বার্লি Bārli
Marathi: satu, jav
Konkani: Sovad
Oriya: Jav, Javadhana, Yava, Bansa
Gujarathi: Jau, Java, Jau
Tamil: barliarisi
Malayalam: barli, yavam
Kannada: jave-godhi
Punjabi: Jav, Jau
Sindhi: ڪٽيو
Arabic: شعير
Spanish: cebada, Cebada común, Cebada cultivada.
Assamese: যৱ
Japanese: オオムギ Ōmugi
Chinese: 大麦 Dàmài
French: orge
German: Gerste
Burma: mu yaw hcaparr
Nepal: बर्ली Barlī
Persian: جو
Sinhalese: බාර්ලි bārli
Tulu: bArli
Greek: κριθάρι krithári


In traditional classifications of barley, these morphological differences have led to different forms of barley being classified as different species. Under these classifications, two-row barley with shattering spikes (wild barley) is classified as Hordeum spontaneum K. Koch. Two-row barley with nonshattering spikes is classified as H. distichum L., six-row barley with nonshattering spikes as H. vulgare L. (or H. hexastichum L.), and six-row with shattering spikes as H. agriocrithon Åberg.


Yava  in  Veda  and  Purana-  There  is  detailed  description  of Yava in veda, araṇyaka, ypanishaḍa, grihya sutra and shatapata brahmaṇa. It is considered as the most ancient cereal in Atharva Veda  and  also  elaborated  its  feature  as  ‘dirgashuko  dhanya vishesha’. Various purana enrols the yava in religious ceremony/ rituals, gramaranya (rural  as  well  as  wild), food material. It is used.  There is a description of  yava as diet as well as in some medicinal formulation and for care of plants; in the  decaying of fruits,  trees  should  be  served  with  water  mixed  with  various cereals, sesame seed and yava in agni purana

  Yava in Ayurvedic  text  -There  is  detailed description of  yava in  various  ayurvedic  samhitas  and  nigantus.  It  is  kept  under shukadhanya  varga  in  charak  samhita,  sushurta  samhita6  and astanga hridaya.    Acharya  Vagabhata  was  the  first to  give the concept of  Vichitra pratyarabdha drayva and  given yava as an example of this


Synonyms in Ayurveda: aksata, akshata, dhanyaraja, divya

The Old English word for barley was bære, which traces back to Proto-Indo-European and is cognate to the Latin word farina "flour". The direct ancestor of modern English "barley" in Old English was the derived adjective bærlic, meaning "of barley". The first citation of the form bærlic in the Oxford English Dictionary dates to around 966 CE, in the compound word bærlic-croft. The underived word bære survives in the north of Scotland as bere, and refers to a specific strain of six-row barley grown there. The word barn, which originally meant "barley-house", is also rooted in these words.
Rasa: Kashaya Madhura Tikta
Guna: Laghu Mrudu Picchila Ruksha
Veerya: Sheetha
Vipaka: Katu
Karma: Kaphahara Pittahara Vatahara

According to Ayurveda Yava and Madhu is the most Ancient diet (Pathya) in Prameha. The uses of the Yava and Madhu described for dietary and medicinal preparation for Prameha.


Succeeds in most soils and in climates ranging from sub-arctic to sub-tropical. Easily grown in light soils Prefers a calcareous soil. Best grown in a sunny position.
Barley first came under cultivation about 12,000 years ago[]. It is widely cultivated in Temperate areas of the world for its edible seed, there are many named varieties. It succeeds further north than most other cereal crops (it succeeds in Norway at latitude 70° N, and at higher altitudes (it is a staple crop in Tibet). The Coeleste group contains the hull-less barleys. Although lower yielding than the type, these hull-less seeds are much easier to harvest making them a much easier crop to grow on a small scale


Seed - sow in situ in early spring or early autumn and only just cover the seed. Make sure the soil surface does not dry out if the weather is dry. Germination takes place within 2 weeks.


The harvesting time depends on the  total  duration of  crop  in a  tract.  Harvesting in the plains of  Jammu,  Punjab,  Haryana,  Rajasthan  and  western  Uttar Pradesh  takes  place  from  third  week  of  March  to  middle  of April. In Madhya  Pradesh, southern and eastern Uttar  Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa  and West Bengal it  starts  7  to  10  days earlier. In Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu (North Arcot , low hills ),  it can be harvested by the first week of February. In the  hills,  where  it  is  grown  in  rabi,  the  harvesting  time  varies from  the  end  of  April  to  end  of  May,  depending  upon  the altitude.  The  spring  sown  crop  is  harvested  from  the  end  of April to  end of  July to the end of  September. In the Nilgiri and Palni hills  in  southern  India,  the summer  crop  sown  in  May  – June is harvested by end of August to first week of September – October. In the higher altitudes  of Leh  and Kargil in  Jammu & Kashmir, a short duration crop  planted in May can be harvested by end of August to first week of September. The harvesting is usually  done  by  sickle,  when  ripe.  Barley  is  more  prone  to shattering  than  wheat.  Therefore,  to  prevent  losses  from shattering, it is useful to cut the crop in early hours of mornings. Harvest it  before it  is dead ripe.  In the  plains the  threshing was done by  treading the  dry produce under  the feet of cattle or  by running the tractor over the heaps of harvested crop but now the use of  the  tractor  operated threshers  is common. The crop with large  areas  is  also  harvested  with  combine  by  the  more progressive  farmers.  Special  care  is  needed  to  ensure  least skinning  and  breaking  of  barley  grain  during  threshing  by adjusting  the  speed  of  thresher.  The  average  yield  of  rainfed crop  ranges  between  2,000  and  2,500  kg/ha,  whereas  that  of irrigated crop is twice as much. Under favourable conditions of manuring  and  management  practices,  improved  varieties  are capable of  giving grain  yield of 5-6 tonnes  /  ha  under irrigated timely  sown  conditions,  from  3  to  3.5  tonnes  /  ha  under  late sown  conditions  and  from  2.5 to  3  tonnes  /  ha  under  rainfed conditions.


Seeds-  Cyanogenic  glycoside  characterized  as  2-  β-D- glucopyranasyloxy  – methyl  –  (2R)  – butyronitrile, ubiquinones,proanthocyanidins, glycosides of hordatines A & B, procyanidin  B3,  trimer  of  procyanidin  C2,  prodelphinidin, chrysoeriol, hordeumin,  pangamic acid, protein, carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorus, iron. 

Leaves-  Arabinogalacto  (4  -  0  – methyglucurono  )  – xylan  , cyanogenic  glucoside,  6’’ – sinapolysaponarin,  6’’-feruloylsaponarin and  4’ – glucosyl – 6’’ – sinapolysaponarin, 2’’- 0- glycosylisovitexin. 

Whole  plant-  p-  coumaroylagmatine,  hordenine  and  its derivative, pyrrolidine, luteolin  glycoside,  flavones  glycosides- orientoside  and  orientin,  cynoglucosides-3-  beta-  D  – glucopyranosyloxy-  2-  methylpropene,  4  – beta  – D  – glucopyranosyloxy  – 3-  hydroxyl  – 3-  hydroxymethy- butyrobitrile


1. Yava Kshara 

Parts used for medicinal purpose

Fruit, ,


10-20 gm


Roasted barley was a good substitute for roasted malt


Dust, pebble, Stone, Straw,weed seeds,damaged grain,weevilled grain, insects, hair and excreta of rodent

Commercial value:

 It makes upto 12% of total cereal production and owns the fourth position after wheat, rice and maize


Root – Fibrous, 0.5 to 1 cm thick; cylindrical, glabrous, greyish-brown.

Stem – Cylindrical, 0.4 to 0.6 cm thick; hollow, slightly flattened, smooth; internode long, shining yellow; node short, bearing sheath; fracture, fibrous.

Leaf – Linear-Ianceolate, 15 to 25 cm long, upper one dose to the spike; sheath smooth, striate; yellowish-grey. Inflorescence – Spike, terminal, linear-oblong, compressed spikelet sessile, 6 to 8 cm long, 6-rowed type; dark cream.

Fruit – A caryopsis, elliptic, oblong, ovoid and tapering at both ends; smooth, about 1 cm long and 0.2 to 0.3 cm wide; dorsally compressed and flattened on the sides with a shallow longitudinal furrow; 3 to 5 ridged having shallow depression between them; grains tightly enclosed and adhering to the lemma and palea; a long awn present on the palea; pale greenish-yellow; taste, sweetish acrid.


Root – Shows single layered epidermis, covered by striated cuticle; cortex composed of about 4 to 6 layers of round to polygonal, thin-walled, parenchymatous cells having intercellular spaces; vascular bundles arranged in discontinuous ring, each having usual elements; pith very wide composed of round to polygonal thin-walled, parenchymatous cells having intercellular spaces.

Stem – Shows single layered epidermis, covered by thick cuticle; hypodermis composed of 5 to 6 layered, round to polygonal, lignified, sclerenchymatous cells; ground tissue consisting of 5 to 7 layered, round to polygonal, thin-walled, parenchymatous cells having intercellular spaces; vascular bundles containing of usual elements found scattered in ground tissues.

Leaf – Shows single layered epidermis covered by thick cuticle on either surface; a few big or bulliform cells are present in upper and lower epidermis, mesophyll not differentiated into palisade and spongy parenchyma; vascular bundles conjoint, collateral, closed, each covered by bundle sheath; stomata paracytic, present on both surfaces; stomatal number 9 to 17 per sq. mm on lower surface. 5 to 8 per sq. mm on upper surface; stomatal index 15 to 23 on lower surface, 9 to 15 upper surface.

Fruit -shows single layered epidermis consisting of crescent-shaped, round to oval wavy walled cells, followed by 2 or 3 layers of thick-walled, sclerenchymatous fibres; below the sclerenchyma are present irregular, square or quadrilateral, spongy parenchymatous cells, a few cell walls having silica bodies through which run the fibro-vascular bundles of the ribs, followed by more or less, polygonal inner epidermal cells, a few inner epidermal cells having unicellular claw-shaped hair and stomata; pericarp composed of cells with more or less compressed parenchymatous cells; seed coat appears as a colourless line; perisperm composed of cells with more or less wavy walls having narrow lumens; endosperm divided into two zones, 2 to 4 cells deep aleurone layers, and the rest starch layers; starch grains simple, round to oval, measuring 3 to 30 n in dia.

Powder – Light creamish-yellow; shows fragments of epidermal cells, parenchyma, groups of tubular, elongated lignified cells, polygonal, thin-walled parenchymatous epidermal cells of palea with intercellular spaces, in surface view, thin-walled, conical trichomes with large lumen, measuring 30 to 180 n in length and upto 20 n in width and stomata, selerenchymatous fibres, scalariform vessels, abundant round to oval, simple starch grains having concentric striations, measuring 3 to 30 n in dia.

Geographical distribution:

India: Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Punjab; Asia, Europe, America


Ranging from Boreal Moist to Rain through tropical Very Dry Forest Life Zones, barley is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 1.9 to 17.6 dm (mean of 161 cases = 7.4), annual temperature of 4.3 to 27.5°C (mean of 161 cages = 12.1), and pH of 4.5 to 8.3 (mean of 138 cases = 6.5). Bukantis and Goodman note that barley has a wider ecological range than any other cereal grain. Barley has a shorter growing season than wheat or oats and can be grown at higher latitudes. Some varieties are grown in tropical India, in hot districts of Africa, and as far north as 70deg.N in Norway. In the United States it is grown in the cooler climates. Among the cvs, there are adaptations to almost any ecological situation, but most do not thrive in the humid tropics. Some forms survive under extreme conditions and mature in 60–70 days. Due to its ability to ripen at rather high temperatures, the southern limit for its cultivation is 10°N of Equator. Barley is not particularly winter-hardy, so is grown as a spring crop. In areas with comparative mild winters as the Mediterranean and India, it is grown as a winter crop. Average temperature during growing period is 15.5–17°C, preferably sunny and moderately rainy. Grown on soils which are too light or otherwise unsuitable for wheat cultivation; does well on light or sandy loam soil. Highest grades of barley are grown on fertile deep loam soils with pH of 7–8. Soils lower than pH 6 may induce aluminum toxicity. For malting barleys, soils should not contain too much nitrogen.

Plant conservation:

There are no known environmental concerns associated with barley

General Use:

* It prevents gallstones 
* Prevents urinary tract infections
* Controls type 2 DM 
* Protects against cancer
* Improves immunity 
* Prevents asthma and other respiratory disorders
* Lowers cholesterol 
* Beneficial in anaemia patients
* Aids in weight loss(anti obese) 
* Prevents bone disorders
* Aids in digestion 
* Works as toxin cleanser
* Indicated in calculi

Therapeutic Uses:

Kasa, Pinasa, Svasa, Urusthambha

Systemic Use:

* Yava Mantha(flour mixed with water and churned),
* Kashaya form(decoctions),
* Yava Lehya(linctus),
* Yava Odana (cooked Yava-without adding any
unctuous articles),
* Vatya (Yava porridge),
* Yava Saktu (roasted corn flour) and Apupa (pan
cakes), all the above mixed with meat soup (animals of
arid region) is indicated as Pathya Kaphaja Prameha:
* Yava mixed with honey,
* Yava soaked overnight in Triphala should be taken
mixed with honey. This acts as refreshing diet


The  seeds  are  astringent,  demulcent, refrigerant,  emollient,  and  diuretic,  intellect  promoting, aphrodisiac, digestive  and  tonic.  They  are  useful in  catarrhs of throat  and  urinary  tract,  cough,  asthma,  strangury,  amentia, fever,  burning  sensation,  urocystitis,  dyspepsia,  vomiting, gastric  disorders,  abdominal  pain,  erysipelas,  leprosy,  obesity, filaria, defects  of  vision, ulcers,  burns, cephalalgia, anemia and used in the diet of invalids 


Lekhana(scraping effect), Medohara(eliminates excess fat accumulated in the body), Vrishya (acts as an aphrodisiac), Balya, Sthairyakaraka(improves strength), Varnya(increases complexion), Swarya(helps to gain good voice), Agni/Agnideepana(increases appetite and metabolism), Kasa-Shwasa Pinasahara(remedy for cough, breathlessness and rhinitis), Kantarogahara(eliminates throat infections), Trishnahara(indicated in dehydration), Twakrogahara(eliminates skin infections, diseases), Vrane Pathyam(a therapeutic diet wounds), Urustambhahara(relieves stiffness over thigh regions), Pramehagna(Controls and prevents Diabetes Mellitus)

Clinical trials:

  1. Kumari  Rajesh,  Kotecha  Mita.  Physicochemical  and nutritional evaluation of Yava (Hordeum vulgare Linn.). Int. Res.  J.  Pharm.  2015;  6(1):70-72 10.7897/2230-8407.06116     
  2.  Ben-erik-van-wyk;  Food  Plants  of  the  World,  Briza publications, South Africa, 1st edition, 2005, 80 
  3.  Sen  Sharma.  P  ;  Plants  In  The  Indian  Puranas-  An Ethnobotanical  Investigation, Naya  Prokah,  Bidhan  Sarani, Calcutta; 1980, 206 
  4.  Singh R,  Kushwaha Rajeev, Kotecha Mita, Yava (hordeum vulgare linn.) in ayurvedic literature and its dietaic approach (pathya)  in  different  disorders,  Journal  of  Ayurveda, 2011,Volume 2, 68-74


  1. YAVA (HORDEUM VULGARE LINN.): A REVIEW Kumari Rajesh 1*, Singh Manju 2, Kotecha Mita 3 1Assistant Professor, Shiv Shakti Ayurvedic College, Bhikhi (Mansa), India 2Women  Scientist,  Department  of  Biochemical  Engineering  and  Biotechnology,  IIT  Delhi,  Hauz  Khas,  New  Delhi, India 3Professor,  H


.Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Barley is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy in amounts commonly found in foods. However, barley sprouts are POSSIBLY UNSAFE and should not be eaten in high amounts during pregnancy.

There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking barley if you are 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. 

Diabetes: Barley might lower blood sugar levels. Your diabetes medications might need to be adjusted by your healthcare provider.

Surgery: Barley might lower blood sugar levels. There is a concern that it might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop using barley at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Toxicity studies:

Barley is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth appropriately. Barley flour can sometimes cause asthma

Use in other system of medicine:

  1. Afghanistan:  Flowers  are  taken  orally  by  females  for contraception 
  2.  Argentina:  Decoction  of  the  dried  fruit  is  taken  orally  for diarrhea and to treat respiratory and urinary tract infections12. China: Decoction of the dried fruit is taken orally for diabetes. 
  3. Egypt: The fruit is used intravaginally as a contraceptive before and  after  coitus.  Fifty-three  percent  of  1200 puerperal women interviewed practiced  this  method,  of whom  47% depended on indigenous method and/or prolonged lactation 
  4. Iran:   Flour is used as a food. A decoction of  the  dried seed is used externally as an emollient and applied on hemorrhoids and infected ulcers. A decoction of the dried seed is taken orally as a diuretic  and  antipyretic  and  used  for  hepatitis,  diarrhea, scorbutism,  nephritis,  bladder  inflammation,  gout,  enema,  and its tonic effect. Decoction of the dried seed is applied to the nose to reduce internasal inflammation 
  5. Italy: Compresses of  boiled seeds are used to soothe rheumatic and  joint  pains16.  Infusion  of  the  dried  seed  is  used  as  a galactogogue
  6.  Korea: Hot water extract of the dried entire plant is taken orally for  beriberi,  coughs,  influenza,  measles,  syphilis,  nephritis, jaundice, dysentery, and ancylostomiasis;  for  thrush in  infants; and  as  a  diuretic.  Extract  of  the  dried  entire  plant  is  used externally for prickly heat. 
  7. United  States:  Infusion  of  the  dried  seed  is  taken  orally  for dysentery,  diarrhea,  and  colic  and  for  digestive  and gastrointestinal disorders 
  8. Folk uses  in India: Traditionally, the sattu is  used  in the  form of gruel in painful  and  atonic  dyspepsia  in various  parts  of the country. A  malt  extract  is  prepared  by  boiling  30-120  g of  its germinated  grain  sin  500 g  water  and  then  strained  to form  a decoction.  When  hops  are added,  the decoction becomes  wort and acquires tonic  properties, which have  been  found valuable in  cases  of  debility  following  on  long  continued  chronic suppuration. Besides, tribal people of Sonbhadra district in Uttar Pradesh, prepare a decoction of its 2 grains along with the stem bark  of  Holarrhena  antidysentrica  Wall.  and  black  pepper. About 2  teaspoonsful of  this  decoction are  given  to  the  patient twice a day for seven days to cure malarial fever


Barley is annual, erect medicinal herb. Its whole plant is used in Ayurvedic system of medicine for treatment of diseases. It is known as Yavah in Sanskrit. Its seeds are also eaten as cereal. The seeds of barley plant are cooked as whole grain or grinded and used as flour. It is used to make dalia or porridge. Since the gluten content of barley is low, so it cannot be used to make bread. But it can be mixed with wheat flour to make mix atta. Barley seeds can be enjoyed as sprouts.

Ayurvedic Formulations:

Common Ayurvedic Formulations of Yava with their Indications
Agasthya Rasayanam - Agasthya Rasayana for asthma

Photos of Yava -

Hordeum vulgare

KEY WORDS: Yava Hordeum vulgare

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