Chinese Barley Water for Water Retention


On a recent trip to Singapore, I found myself retaining, well, EVERYTHING (sorry for the TMI, folks) and feeling pretty darn uncomfortable. So, since I was eager to check out some Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) before I left, I popped by a shop in Chinatown and asked for remedies for water retention and digestive issues. My store helper went directly to the Chinese barley. She also recommend Chrysanthemum tea and Qu Shi Shui, but I’ll get to those at a later date. Since I had no clue how to prepare the stuff, she also wrote instructions for me to follow.


I was nervous about trying this before I left Singapore, but I cooked up a batch the minute I got home. I also Googled as much as I could about Chinese Barley Water and it’s preparation. I wound up using raw honey for my batch instead of sugar. I prepared about a gallon of barley water, drank about 16 ounces total for the evening and refrigerated the rest. The next day, I drank it cold; a total of about 20 ounces for the day. I also (finally!) starting peeing like crazy. I got a bit of additional relief as well. By the end of the day, I was down two pounds (remember this was temporary water and waste retention that I was trying to shed only). The next day, I was down one more pound and less bloated and then pretty much stayed there for the next several days until I ran out.

jar of barley water

A jar of my barley water with some barley at the bottom (I ate the barley afterward – didn’t want to waste it)

So, how does Chinese Barley Water work, exactly? I’m no expert on TCM, so I only have my store helper’s and Google’s info to go by. But, according to this post on Organic Facts:

“Recent research says that consuming whole grain barley regulates blood sugar to a great extent. The health benefits of barley are mostly attributable to the eight essential amino acids which it contains, meaning that it represents a complete protein in our diet...Barley Water is effective when your kidneys need rest from excessive stress. People suffering from kidney and bladder ailments can take barley water for therapeutic uses.”

Alas, I only bought one bag, which is enough to make two batches only. I didn’t want to buy too much without knowing whether/how it would work, or whether I’d be able to get it through U.S. Customs. Now, of course, I wish I’d bought more. Fortunately, I found some distributors on Amazon and I’ve already placed an order. I just hope the quality is as good as what I purchased in Singapore. I only really plan to drink it on hot summer days (it’s a “cooling” drink) and, like when I was in Singapore, I’m feeling bloated.

If you want to try some Chinese Barley Water for yourself, and you’re in or near Singapore, I purchased mine from Eu Yan Sang. Otherwise, try the following from Amazon or do a search for “Chinese Pearl Barley”:

Have you tried Chinese Barley Water? Do you want to try it? Share your thoughts/recipes!


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