Saturday, October 16, 2021

Barley as Cure for Joint-Pains and Gout

Arthralgia refers to pain localized to a joint, regardless of the origin of the pain (which may or may not be due to joint inflammation). It should not be confused with Arthritis {Greek term “disease of the joints”} which is an acute or chronic joint inflammation that often co-exists with pain and structural damage.

In simpler words, joint pain or discomfort is common and usually felt in joints of the hands, feet, hips, knees, or spine. The joint can feel stiff, achy or sore with constant, cyclic or irregular pain episodes. In addition, the joint may feel stiff in the morning and feel better with movement or activity. However, too much activity could make the pain worse.

Age is one of the biggest factors in stiff and painful joints, but few other factors too are responsible, such as:

1. Overweight or underweight
2. Previous injuries to a joint
3. Stress, depression and tensions
4. Arthritis (Osteoarthritis,Rheumatoid arthritis,Gout,Bursitis) or other chronic medical conditions (Viral infections)
5. Repeatedly use and/or overuse of a muscle (Tendinitis)

The treatment of joint pains is determined by the level of severity. Weight loss, exercises and application of heating pad or ice on the affected area, may be recommended for short periods. Soaking in a warm bathtub may also offer relief.

At the next level, braces, topical treatments (gels and creams), non-steroid inflammtory drugs (NSAIDs) such as paracetamol, diclofenac, ibuprofen etc are prescribed. Along with dietary supplements such glucosamine, chondroitin, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) attempts are made to relieve pain.

Finally, if all fails then its either one or combination of following: surgery, steroids, higher painkiller and antidepressants.

Joint pains add misery to discomfort for the person and its family too. Loss of ability effects one and all.

Indian medicine system Ayurveda has recommended barley as one of the treatment for muscular and joint pains. High protein diets (purines) increase the joints pains, whereas food rich in fibers tend to help in lowering the level of pains. Barley diet is rich in fiber (beta-glucan) and has a strong laxative effect, the combination of these two ensure that body is rid of toxins faster. Barley also helps in maintaining healthy body weight by loweing the body fat. Moreover, compresses of boiled barley seeds too are used to soothe rheumatic and joint pains.

Gout is a buildup of uric acid (UA) in the joints, causing joint pain, fever and red swollen joints. Although Gout and hyperuricemia (excess of uric acid) are diseases with hereditary background but individual choice of lethargic lifestyle combined with high protein, less-fibre rich diet and subsequent disability to excrete excess UA from the body makes it a life-style disease. For gout and hyperuricemia, in which early detection and treatment are important, it is advisable to control the level of UA, even for individuals with only slightly elevated serum UA (who may not satisfy the criteria for pharmacotherapy) or for mild hyperuricemia.

The control of food type and its quantity has been a proven method to handle UA levels in the human body. Some of the useful methods are:

1. Keep body hydrated and passing urine at regular intervals,
2. Reduction or complete avoidence of purines.
3. Intake of the flavonoids, which have an inhibitory effect on xanthine oxidase (XOD) activity and show reduction in serum UA levels by inhibiting UA biosynthesis.
4. Protein in milk or soy-based products has been reported to lower serum UA levels by increasing the amount of UA excretion into the urine.
5. Several dietary fibers have been reported to reduce the increase of serum UA by inhibiting absorption of dietary nucleic acid.

Barley is rich in dietry fibre and have proven beneficial in lowering serum UA levels. Studies done of fermented barley extract P (FBEP) suggest that mechanism involved in the lowering effect of FBEP on serum UA levels may be attributed to the promotion of urinary UA excretion. A decoction of the dried seed of barley is taken orally as a diuretic, antipyretic and has shown benefits in inflammation including gouts. Daily intake of barley grass too have shown good results in treating hyperuricemia, and superoxide dismutase (SOD) and alkaloids present in it are focused on the treatment of arthritis, bursitis, and gout.

References:
1. Hokazono, H.; et.al. Effects of a Fermented Barley Extract on Subjects with Slightly High Serum Uric Acid or Mild Hyperuricemia. BioSci. Biotechnol. Biochem. 2010, 74(4), 828-834.
2. Kumari, R.; et.al. Yava (Hordeum vulgare Linn.): A review. Int. Res. J. Pharm. 2016, 7(3), 5-9.
3. Exley E. K.; et. al. Use of complementary and alternative medicine among patients with arthritis. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2009, 6(2, article A44)

Dry-roasted and grinded barley powder is called Sattu or Jau-Sattu (in India).


    

    
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