Author: Faheema Mahomed Ali
Date: 11 October 2022
Barley is an ancient grain that was first cultivated in the Middle Eastern region 10 000 years ago. Today, barley is seen as a “functional food” or a food item that not only provides nutritional benefits but also have medicinal properties. Studies have shown that the regular consumption of whole grain barley has the potential to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic diseases like diabetes type 2, obesity and even certain cancers like colon cancer.
Barley is a very good source of protein and is high in dietary fibre which makes it easily digestible. Talbeenah is a broth/ porridge made of barley flour or barley bran, honey and milk. Sayyida Aisha رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهَا narrates “Whenever anyone complained of loss of appetite to the Prophet صَلَّى ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ, he ordered to use Talbeenah and stated “By Allah who holds my life, this removes the dirt of your abdomen as one of you removes the dirt of your face by washing it.” (At Tirmidhi). The bioactive compounds in barley have been found to regulate gut bacteria and counter act harmful chemical substances in the intestines that could cause gastrointestinal cancers. Barley also contains phenolic compounds that have antioxidant and immunomodulatory properties which prevent cancer.
β-glucan, a highly soluble dietary fibre found in barley, has been found to lower total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and thereby protect against cardiovascular diseases. β-glucan is also responsible for the reduction of blood glucose levels and therefore the management of diabetes and insulin resistance. Barley also aids in weight loss. The nutritional components of barley causes a delay in gastric emptying resulting in one feeling fuller for longer and thereby reducing food intake.
The most common uses of Talbeenah is to improve the nervous system and provide relief from depression and anxiety. The Messenger of Allah صَلَّى ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ advised; “Talbeenah brings comfort to the sick person and it lessens grief.” (Agreed Upon). Barley has a high zinc, magnesium and vitamin B content, all of which have been found to reduce symptoms of depression. Barley is also a rich source of amino acids which supports the nervous system and protects against degenerative neurological disorders like dementia and alzheimers.