Green barley products - additives and other dangers

Green barley is full of vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, enzymes and amino acids (if harvested and dried correctly).
It's particularly rich in vitamin A in the form of beta carotene. But the betacarotene in leafy greens is converted twice as efficiently into vitamin A as the beta carotene in carrots and orange and yellow vegetables.
Like any plant, the nutrient content is dependant on the quality of the soil. Sprouted grasses are a little different in quality to green barley and wheat grass. They grow differently and do not absorb important minerals from the soil. For example, alfalfa in the form of dehydrated cereal grass is an amazing source of bioavailable calcium, which is drawn from deep within the soil by the taproots of the plant. Alfalfa sprouts, whilst full of enzymes, do not have these minerals
Green barley and dehydrated cereal grasses (I do not recommend the juice for reasons below) are whole food supplements, meaning that the dehydrated powder still retains the nutritional and enzymatic qualities of the fresh plant.

What does science say about barley green?

Studies of cereal grasses (wheat grass, green barley, alfalfa - not the sprouts though!) have been published that show
  • the growth of lactobacilli and other intestinal flora on the plant (1948)
  • that it promotes the healing of peptic ulcers (1950)
  • possible cancer preventative properties (1979)
  • inhibition of cancer causing effects (1980)
  • lowering of serum cholesterol (1984)
Chlorophyll has been shown to
  • reduce inflammation and pain (1940)
  • heal wounds (1949)
  • encourage bowel regularity (1950)
  • encourage cell proliferation and tissue repair (1955)

What to look for (and look out for!) in your green health product

Is your green barley really as pure as the manufacturers claim?
  • does it contain any additives, sugars (maltodextrin), chemical substances and preservatives
  • is it grown with toxic chemicals?
  • when is it harvested? for it to be harvested at its nutritional peak it should be harvested before the jointing stage (before the seed head forms in the stem of the plant)
  • how is it dried - at body temperature and immediately to preserve all the nutrients (including enzymes and chlorophyll)
  • how is it processed? heat or friction will cause loss of nutrients.
  • does it contain both soluble and insoluble fibre? the soluble fibres are where most of the mineral content is.
  • is the fibre the product contains the fibre that is part of 100% green barley, or is it fibre added from cooked brown rice or other fibrous carbohydrates? The naturally occuring fibre of green barley is rich in other nutrients that are not present in cooked brown rice.
With regards some green barley juice products marketed as 100% juice - they actually have additives and are of questionable quality. They contain cooked brown rice to make up the gross fibre content (minus the nutrients) and maltodextrin (simple sugars). If you have blood sugar problems you should really be careful of these.
From the patent (US patents office, patent number 5445839, dated 29/9/1995) for the manufacture of the green barley juice and other powder green juices of plants (Inventors Yoshihide and Hideaki Hagiwara):


  • the green leaves are washed with water and can be sterilised with a germicide such as hypochlorous acid
  • other optional treatments - blanching at 100 - 140 degrees celcius for 2 - 10 seconds, at normal, reduced or elevated pressure, then a rapid cooling treatment. The patent states that this treatment SERVES TO INACTIVATE ENZYMES. Yet the point of consuming fresh greens is to consume the enzymes, as they have a lot of digestive and other benefits.

Juice extraction:

  • water is added and then the plant is squeezed. It is mechanically pulverised in combination with the use of a means to seperate liquid and solids. Its ph is adjusted to the range 6 - 9.5 with an alkaline substance such as corbonate, bicarbone, the hydroxy of an alkali metal, or an alkaline earth metal like sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, caustic potash, ammonium hydroxide or magnesium hydroxide. The juice is then spray dried or lypholized. Spray drying takes place at temperatures of 120 - 200 degrees celcius, with a stated preference for 140 - 170 degrees celcius. The alternative is to use room temperature with a dessicant such as lithium chloride.
The following are described as possible additions before the drying step:
  • lignin sulfonate obtained from decomposing wood chips, pulp, sawdust, rice hulls, defatted embryo buds "etc" with sodium sulfite or an alkali agent like caustic soda "to be water soluble and salts thereof"
  • "a water extracted product of the water-solubilized matters such as skeletons or cartilages of animals, fishes or the like, condroitin sulfuric acid, heparin, etc" (quoted from the patent)
  • a fatty emulsion composed mainly of protein, cows milk, and a combinaton of these fats
  • "nutritive agents" (no doubt to replace all the nutrition removed by the chemical and mechanical (heat and pressure) manufacturing processes) - ascorbic acid, biotin, calcium pantothenate, carotene, chlorinated choline, magnesium oxide, niacin, chlorinatedpyridoxine,sodium pantothenate, riboflavin, thiamine hydrochloride, tocopherol, vitamin a, vitamin b sub 12, vitamin d sub 2, "and the like"
  • masking agents - sodium metaphosphate, sodium phosphate (primary, secondary and tertiary salts, sodium pyrophosphate, sodium tripolyphosphate "and the like"
  • thickeners - gum arabic, tragacanth, sodium aliginate, methyl cellulose, carboxymethyl cellulose, calcium alignate, "and the like"
  • solidification inhibitors such as calcium aluminium silicate
  • preservatives such as sorbic calcium, benzoic acid, paraoxymethyl benzoate, sodium benzoate "and the like"
  • the ubiqituos category "others" - mannitol, sorbitol, lactose, soluble starch, amino acids, dextrose, fruit sugar, dextrin, cyclodextrin, polydestrose "and the like"
The patent further states that table salt, sugar (as though there wasn't enough in the "others" category), bee honey, glucose (more sugar!), and other seasonings and spices can be added. Not to mention food antiseptics (such as dehydroacetic acid and its sodium salt, or benzoic acid and its sodium salt) and emulsifiers.
The patent also states that this process will increase the flavour and taste of the powders of the green juice obtained .... They state this is an improvement on the use of chemical alkaline agents such as sodium carbonate and calcium hydroxide used "hithero".
The last statement may well be true, but it does not imply that the product created is either natural or nutritious, or "pure". If you have chemical sensitivities, or blood sugar problems, or are consuming similarly created so called health products, you may want to carefully evaluate what you're consuming.
That's not to say all green barley products are created that way. Look closely at the label. The addition of any sugars (dextrose, maltose, fructose, lactose, or any combination thereof) or any added processed fibre products (like cooked brown rice) should be a warning sign in and of itself. There is no need to add any of those elements if the nutritional integrity (the vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, enzymes and other phytochemicals) of the green barley is maintained through less destructive processing methods.
Did you know? Chlorophyll in plants has a similar stucture to haemoglobin in blood. Charles Schnabel, a food chemist, realised this in the 1920's.


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