Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.
Preparation: Wash the germinated barley sprouts and dry them
Dosage: 9 - 15 grams
Main actions according to TCM*: Assists the Stomach to move Food Stagnation. Strengthens the Spleen. Stops the flow of mother's milk. Assists in the smooth flow of Liver Qi.
Contraindications*: This herb should not be used during pregnancy, by nursing mothers who do not wish to reduce their milk volume or those without Food Stagnation.
Source date: 1918 AD
Number of ingredients: 12 herbs
Formula key actions: Sedates the Liver. Axtinguishes Wind. Nourishes the Yin. Anchors the yang.
Mai Ya is an assistant ingredient in Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Mai Ya belongs to the 'Herbs that relieve Food Stagnation' category. These herbs typically possess digestive and Food moving properties as they relate to the Stomach and Spleen. Some of these herbs are high in digestive enzymes and have varying specific abilities to help with the digestion of food.
Furthermore Mai Ya is Neutral in nature. This means that Mai Ya typically doesn't affect the balance in your body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Eating too many "Hot" (Yang) ingredients can lead to an imbalance whereby one has a Yang Excess. The inverse is true as well: too many "Cold" (Yin) ingredients can lead to a Yin Excess. The Neutral nature of Mai Ya means that you don't have to worry about that!
Mai Ya also tastes Sweet. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sweet ingredients like Mai Ya tends to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.
The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Mai Ya is thought to target the Spleen and the Stomach. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. The Stomach on the other hand is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine.
Germinated barley foodstuff promotes defecation, produces bacterial short chain fatty acids, especially butyrate, without adverse effects, and is a safe foodstuff for humans.1
Germinated barley foodstuff appeared to be effective and safe as a maintenance therapy to taper steroid dose and prolong remission in patients with ulcerative colitis.2
1. Mitsuyama K, Saiki T, Kanauchi O, Iwanaga T, Tomiyasu N, Nishiyama T, Tateishi H, Shirachi A, Ide M, Suzuki A, Noguchi K, Ikeda H, Toyonaga A, Sata M. (1998). Treatment of ulcerative colitis with germinated barley foodstuff feeding: a pilot study. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. , 12(12):1225-30.
2. Hanai H, Kanauchi O, Mitsuyama K, Andoh A, Takeuchi K, Takayuki I, Araki Y, Fujiyama Y, Toyonaga A, Sata M, Kojima A, Fukuda M, Bamba T. (2004). Germinated barley foodstuff prolongs remission in patients with ulcerative colitis. Int J Mol Med. , 13(5):643-7.
Mai Ya is also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Beer or Malted milkshake.