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Beer, Soup, Barley's Next Great Use? A Medical Imaging Drink at University of Buffalo

Barley  in India is very commonly used. It is the common drink, breakfast of the poor. Having numerous health benefits also. Barley, an important member of the grass family, is a wonderfully versatile cereal grain. It is one of the first cultivated grains and is now grown widely. The amazing health benefits of barley make it a staple of Tibetan cuisine and were eaten by peasants in Medieval Europe. Barley is used as animal fodder and as an important component of various health foods. It is used in stews and soups and barley bread in many cultures. This cereal grain can be used for weight loss with vegan diet because of its high nutrient content. Barley grains are most commonly made from malt in an ancient and traditional method of preparation.

Barley is new find for the medicinal use, due to dark in colour. It helps in imaging. The University of Buffalo recently published a study in the journal Biomaterials. The Assistant Professor Jun Xia in the Department of Biomedical Engineering informed.

The researchers focused on dark foods and beverages because the darker the color, the more the foodstuff will absorb wavelengths from the laser and, theoretically, produce a clearer image.

Roasted barley, a grain used to produce beer, bread and other products, provided the best results. Researchers were able to detect individual particles of it through 3.5 centimeters of chicken breast tissue, as well as through human hands.

Roasted barley tea — a drink common in Japan, Korea and China — was detectable through 2.5 centimeters of chicken breast. It worked in human subjects as well, providing visualizations inside the human throat when swallowing.

In addition to swallowing imaging, researchers say roasted barley could potentially be used to diagnose gastrointestinal tract disorders.

To test for dysphagia, doctors typically have patients drink a thick, chalky liquid called barium. Doctors then use X-rays, MRIs or ultrasounds to look inside the throat. Each technique is limited with respect to safety, high-cost and lack of adequate contrast, respectively.

University at Buffalo researchers bought more than 200 types of tea, chocolate, herbs and other foodstuffs. The search culminated with a winner: barley. Turns out that a roasted version of the grain, when struck by a common laser beam, can illuminate the throat and the gastrointestinal track. The goal wasn’t to stock up for long hours in the lab, but rather to find an elusive, edible contrast agent to show doctors what’s happening inside our bodies.

The discovery could improve our ability to diagnose swallowing disorders, which affect more than 15 million Americans, as well as gut disorders. What’s more, because many human diets already include barley, it could be fast-tracked for medical use.

“It’s really incredible. Here you have this common grain — it has been grown all over the world for thousands of years, and used to make tea, bread, beer — and we’re just now finding another use for it as a contrast agent for medical imaging,” says Jun Xia, PhD, Assistant Professor in the University at Buffalo Department of Biomedical Engineering.



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