Barley grass is rich in vitamins A, C, B1, B2, folic acid, and B12; calcium; iron; potassium; and chlorophyll. It provides all nine essential amino acids that our body can't produce. It is a powerful antioxidant that is believed to help the body kill cancer cells and overcome a variety of ailments, including acne and ulcers.
Its antioxidant called alpha-tocopherol succinate - a potent relative of vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) may be responsible for much of the plant's anti-tumor action, according to Allan L. Goldstein, Ph.D., head of the biochemistry department at George Washington University's School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., who has studied barley grass. Though its mechanism is unknown, alpha-tocopherol succinate seems to inhibit several types of cancer, including leukemia, brain tumors, and prostate cancer.
According to Yoshihide Hagiwara, M.D., a researcher in Japan and author of the book "Green Barley Essence" (Keats, 1985), barley grass helps cure skin diseases and ulcers by promoting the growth of new cells. It is not known exactly how this happens, although barley grass is high in chlorophyll, an antibacterial green pigment.
Goldstein and his colleagues exposed leukemic cancer cells to dehydrated barley grass extract. The extract killed virtually all of them. Encouraged, the researchers then subjected brain cancer cells to the extract. It eradicated 30 to 50 percent of these cells. In a third trial, the extract inhibited the growth of three types of prostate cancer cells by 90 to 100 percent.
In Japan, where barley grass extract is popular, there is anecdotal evidence that it helps the body heal from many illnesses. In one informal study, a Japanese dermatologist observed a group of 7.5 patients with skin diseases ranging from melanosis (darkening of the skin) to eczema. The patients who took barley grass extract healed faster than did those who did not. They also noticed improvements in appetite and bowel regularity.
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