Barley Water Benefits In TCM

Barley drink is very common in Singapore but do you know that not everyone is suitable to drink it?

In this post, you will learn what are the benefits of barley and how to cook an effective barley drink for you and your family!

First things first, the Chinese name for barley is 薏苡仁 or 薏米. Its English name is coix seeds but we often call it barley here in Singapore.

There are two types of coix seeds – Chinese barley (they are bigger and rounder in shape) and Holland barley. The following is a comparison of these two types of barley:

For the purpose of healing effects, we will be focusing on Chinese barley in the rest of this post as its benefits are stronger than the Holland version. 

In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), Chinese barley has cooling properties, so it can help to reduce heatiness in body.

The other main benefit of Chinese barley is that it helps to reduce water retention, especially in the lower part of your body. Drinking Chinese barley water can also help with weight loss because it eliminates excess 湿 (dampness) in your body.

Additional Chinese barley benefits recorded in TCM include detoxing, preventing formation of cancer cells and relieving diarrhea (this is more of a secondary effect and I wouldn’t recommend using just Chinese barley to treat diarrhea).

In short, it is a wellness drink for most people when the weather is warm or you want an effective and affordable way to lose weight through eliminating water retention. 

People Who Are Not Suitable To Drink Barley Water 

In general, everyone can enjoy Chinese barley water except for women who are pregnant. The reason is because Chinese barley also has 滑利 properties (sorry, I can’t find a suitable English translation for this word). 

How To Prepare An Effective Barley Drink

The following recipe is for one person (two cups). Do adjust the amount accordingly if you are preparing for more people. The ingredients you need are:

  1. Chinese barley (30g)
  2. Winter melon sticks (15g to 30g,  depending on your sweetness preference)
  3. Water (750g to 900g), depending on how fast the water vaporises during cooking. At the end, you should have two cups (about 250ml each) of water left.

The cooking method is very simple. Wash and rinse the Chinese barley and winter melon sticks and put them into the water.

Turn on the fire and bring the water to a boil.

Once the water boils, turn the fire to smallest and let it simmer for 20 minutes to 30 minutes. Turn off the fire and enjoy the barley drink!

Winter melon sticks
Winter melon sticks

Adding winter melon sticks to your Chinese barley drink will enhance the effect of relieving water retention in the body.

Most melons, especially winter melon, has the effect of getting rid of excess dampness in body. Two common ways to know whether you have dampness in your body is to check whether you have water retention symptoms or loose / sticky stools most of the time.

Do note that you need to consume Chinese barley water for a period of time before you can see results. I suggest you can take it two to three times per week for a start.

Also, avoid (if you can’t do it totally, then reduce) fried, oily and spicy foods as they encourage the formation of dampness in your body.

Enjoy your barley drink and its healing effects and let me know if you have any questions below!

chinese barley water
Chinese barley water (you can add some lemon slices to flavor)

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