Botanical name: Coix lacryma-jobi
Family: Gramineae, grass family
Genus : Coix L. – Job’s tears
Species :Coix lacryma-jobi L. – Job’s tears
Kingdom :Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom :Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class : Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
Order : Cyperales
Common name: Coix, Job’s tears
Coix lacryma-jobi is perhaps native to southeast Asia, but now rather pantropical as cultigen and weed. Listed as a serious weed in Polynesia, a principle weed in Italy and Korea, a common weed in Hawaii, Iran, Japan, Micronesia, and Puerto Rico, also in Australia, Borneo, Burma, Cambodia, China, Congo, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Iraq, Melanesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Rhodesia, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Thailand, United States, and Venezuela (Holm et al, 1979).
Coix lacryma-jobi is an Annual (in the temperate zone) but perennial plant where frost is absent or mild, freely branching upright or ascending herb 1-2 m tall, the cordate clasping leaf blades 20-50 cm long, 1-5 cm broad. Spikelets terminal, and in the upper axils, unisexual, staminate spikelets two-flowered, in twos or threes on the continuous rachis; pistillate spikelets three together, one fertile, and two sterile; glumes of the fertile spikelet several-nerved, all enclosed finally in a bony beadlike involucre, the grain, white to bluish white, or black, globular orvoid, 6-12 mm long.
Coix lacryma-jobi L. (Photo credit: adaduitokla)
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Propagation & Cultivation:
Propagation by seeds, sown during monsoon (in India) at rate of 6-10 kg/ha. Seed dibbled 2.5 cm deep, at spacing of 60 x 60 cm. One intercultivation, before the plants tiller, and shade on ground may be necessary. Sufficient rains in early stage of growth and a dry period when grain is setting are necessary for good yields. Plants respond well to liberal applications of organic manure.
Per 100 g, the seed is reported to contain 380 calories, 11.2 g H2O, 15.4 g protein, 6.2 g fat, 65.3 g total carbohydrate, 0.8 g fiber, 1.9 g ash, 25 mg Ca, 435 mg P, 5.0 mg Fe, 0 ug beta-carotene equivalent, 0.28 mg thiamine, 0.19 mg riboflavin, 4.3 mg niacin, and 0 mg ascorbic acid. According to Hager’s Handbook (List and Horhammer, 1969-1979), there is 50-60% starch 18.7% protein (with glutamic-acid, leucine, tyrosine, arginine, histidine, and lysine) and 5-10% fatty oil with glycerides of myristic- and palmitic-acids.
Weed to some, necklace to others, staff-of-life to others, job’s tear is a very useful and productive grass increasingly viewed as a potential energy source. Before Zea became popular in South Asia, Coix was rather widely cultivated as a cereal in India. Still taken as a minor cereal, it is pounded, threshed and winnowed, as a cereal or breadstuff. The pounded flour is sometimes mixed with water like barley for barley water. The pounded kernel is also made into a sweet dish by frying and coating with sugar. It is also husked and eaten out of hand like a peanut. Beers and wines are made from the fermented grain. Chinese use the grain, like barley, in soups and broths.
According to Hartwell (1967-1971), the fruits are used in folk remedies for abdominal tumors, esophageal, gastrointestinal, and lung cancers, various tumors, as well as excrescences, warts, and whitlows. This folk reputation is all the more interesting when reading that coixenolide has antitumor activity (List and Horhammer, 1969-1979). Job’s tear is also a folk remedy for abscess, anodyne, anthrax, appendicitis, arthritis, beriberi, bronchitis, catarrh, diabetes, dysentery, dysuria, edema, fever, gotter, halitosis, headache, hydrothorax, metroxenia, phthisis, pleurisy, pneumonia, puerperium, rheumatism, small-pox, splenitis, strangury, tenesmus, and worms (Duke and Wain, 1981). Walker (1971) cites other medicinal uses.
In Chinese medicine, the seeds strengthen the spleen and counteract “damp heat”, and are used for edema, diarrhea, rheumatoid arthritis and difficult urination. Drains dampness, clears heat, eliminates pus, tonifies the spleen. This herb is added to medicinal formulas to regulate fluid retention and counteract inflammation. It is very good for all conditions and diseases associated with edema and inflammation, including pus, diarrhea, phlegm, edema or abscesses of either the lungs or the intestines, and rheumatic and arthritic conditions. A tea from the boiled seeds is drunk as part of a treatment to cure warts. It is also used in the treatment of lung abscess, lobar pneumonia, appendicitis, rheumatoid arthritis, beriberi, diarrhea, oedema and difficult urination. The roots have been used in the treatment of menstrual disorders. The FDA has approved testing for cancer therapy. Currently going through testing, the Kanglaite Injection is a new effective diphasic anti-cancer medicine prepared by extracting with modern technology the active anti-cancer component from the Coix Seed, to form an advanced dosage form for intravenous and intra- arterial perfusion. It had been proved experimentally and clinically that the Kanglaite Injection had a broad spectrum of anti-tumor and anti-metastasis action, such as hepatic cancer and pulmonary cancer, along with the action of enhancing host immunity. When used in combined treatment with chemotherapy or radiotherapy, the Kanglaite Injection can increase the sensitivity of tumor cells, reduce the toxicity of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, relieve cancerous pain, improve cachexia, and raise the quality of life in advanced cancer victims. As a fat emulsion, the Kanglaite Injection can provide patients with high-energy nutrients with little toxicity. It inhibits formation of new blood vessels that promote tumor growth, counteracts weight loss due to cancer.
Some of the latest research also shows that Job’s tears is immunostimulating, induces interferon, Bronchodialates; Lowers blood sugar; Reduces muscle spasms and is anti-convulsant; Stimulates respiration in small doses and inhibits it in higher doses; reduces arterial plaque; Anti-inflammatory, possibly through the suppression of macrophage activity
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.