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Herbs & Plants

Coix lacryma-jobi

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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: MagnoliophytaFlowering plants
Class : Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
Subclass: Commelinidae
Order : Cyperales

Common name: Coix, Job’s tears
Habitat :
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).

Description
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.
Coix lacryma-jobi L. (Photo credit: adaduitokla)

You may click to see the picture

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.

Chemical constituents:
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.

Uses
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.

Medicinal Uses:
Folk Medicine
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

Disclaimer:
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.

Resources:
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Coix_lacryma-jobi.html
http://www.jadeinstitute.com/herbal-detail-page.php?show=25&order=common_name
http://www.robsplants.com/plants/CoixLacry
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_IJK.htm

 

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Categories
Herbs & Plants

Houttuynia Cordata

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Botanical Name: Houttuynia cordata variegata
Family:  
 Saururaceae
Genus:    
Houttuynia
Kingdom:
Plantae
Order:    
Piperales

Synonyms : Gymnotheca chinensis. Polypara cochinchinensis.
Common Name:
Chameleon Plant, Heartleaf, Giap ca,   Tsi, Chameleon, Rainbow Plant, Chameleon Plant
Habitat: Houttuynia cordata is natoive to E. Asia – China, Japan, Himalayas. It  grows on shrubberies and damp places to 2400 metres in the Himalayas. Often found as a weed in wet fields.

Description:    Houttuynia cordata is a perennial herb, growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a fast rate. It is in flower in June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)

Bloom Color: White. …Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Late summer, Mid summer……… Form: Spreading or horizontal, Upright or erect, Variable spread.

The plant belongs to an ancient herbaceous group called the “paleoherbs”.

[Vietnamese: diec ca, rau diep ca, vap ca]

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The proximal part of the stem is trailing and produces adventitious roots, while the distal part of the stem grows vertically. The leaves are alternate, broadly heart-shaped, 4-9 cm long and 3-8 cm broad. Flowers are greenish-yellow, borne on a terminal spike 2-3 cm long with 4-6 large white basal bracts.

Cultivation:
The plant grows well in moist to wet soil and even slightly submerged in water in partial or full sun. Plants can become invasive in gardens and difficult to eradicate. Propagation is via division.

Houttuynia in temperate gardens is usually in one of its cultivated forms, including: Chameleon (synonymous with H.c. ‘Court Jester‘, H.c. ‘Tricolour’, H.c. ‘Variegata’) this variety is slightly less vigorous than the species and has leaves broadly edged in yellow and flecked with red; Flore Pleno has masses of white bracts and the vigour of the parent species.

Propagation :
Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer. Division in spring. Very quick and easy, it can be done successfully at almost any time in the growing season. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.

Edible Uses :
Edible Parts: Fruit; Leaves; Root.

Teder young shoots and leaves – raw or cooked as a pot-herb. The leaves and young shoots are harvested in the spring when about 8cm long. Strongly aromatic according to one report whilst others say that it is rather smelly and somewhat like rotten fish. Our experience is that the leaves have a delicious orange-like smell and make a marvellous flavouring in salads. One report says that there are two distinct chemotypes of this species. Plants from Japan have an orange scent, whilst those from China have a smell resembling coriander leaves (Coriandrum sativum). Some people seem to really like this leaf, others are indifferent to it or strongly dislike it. It also varies quite considerably according to the time of year. In the spring and summer it has a very acceptable flavour, but by autumn a distinct bitterness has crept in. Root – cooked. Same comments on the smell as for the leaves. Fruit. No further details, but the fruit is a capsule that contains many small seeds.

In the southwestern Chinese provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou, and Sichuan, roots are used as a root vegetable. English names include heartleaf and lizardtail.

Medicinal Uses:
The whole plant is antibacterial, antiinflammatory, antimicrbial, antiphlogistic, antiviral, depurative, diuretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, hypoglycaemic, laxative and ophthalmic. A decoction is used internally in the treatment of many ailments including cancer, coughs, dysentery, enteritis and fever. Its use is said to strengthen the immune system. Externally, it is used in the treatment of snake bites and skin disorders. The leaves and stems are harvested during the growing season and used fresh in decoctions. The leaf juice is antidote and astringent. A root extract is diuretic. The root is also said to be used in medicinal preparations for certain diseases of women. The rhizomes yield a sterol, resembling sitosterol, which stimulates the secretion of antibiotic substances from a gram-positive spore-forming bacillus. An active substance, effective in the treatment of stomach ulcers, has been extracted from the plant.

Houttuynia is also used in herbal medicine. The beverage dokudami cha (Japanese: literally “Houttuynia cordata tea”) is an infusion made from Houttuynia cordata leaves, Oolong tea leaves, and Job’s Tears.
Other Uses:
A good ground cover plant. Plants do not form a weed-suppressing cover. A spreading plant, it should be spaced about 45cm apart each way.

Disclaimer:
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.

References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houttuynia
http://florawww.eeb.uconn.edu/acc_num/198501450.html

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Houttuynia+cordata