Job’s Tears (Coix lacryma-jobi)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Job's Tears
Coix lacryma-jobi

The seeds are used as decorative beads[1, 61, 100, 171, 272].

The stems are used to make matting[158].

  • Medicinal Use

    The fruits are anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, hypoglycaemic, hypotensive, sedative and vermifuge[218, 238]. The fruits are used in folk remedies for abdominal tumours, oesophageal, gastrointestinal, and lung cancers, various tumours, as well as excrescences, warts, and whitlows. This folk reputation is all the more interesting when reading that one of the active constituents of the plant, coixenolide, has antitumor activity[269].

    The seed, with the husk removed, is antirheumatic, diuretic, pectoral, refrigerant and tonic[176, 218, 240]. A tea from the boiled seeds is drunk as part of a treatment to cure warts[116, 174]. It is also used in the treatment of lung abscess, lobar pneumonia, appendicitis, rheumatoid arthritis, beriberi, diarrhoea, oedema and difficult urination[147, 176].

    The plant has been used in the treatment of cancer[218].

    The roots have been used in the treatment of menstrual disorders[240]. A decoction of the root has been used as an anthelmintic[272].

    The fruit is harvested when ripe in the autumn and the husks are removed before using fresh, roasted or fermented[238].

  • Edible Use

    Seed – cooked. A pleasant mild flavour, it can be used in soups and broths[269].. It can be ground into a flour and used to make bread or used in any of the ways that rice is used[1, 2, 57, 100, 183]. The pounded flour is sometimes mixed with water like barley for barley water[269]. The pounded kernel is also made into a sweet dish by frying and coating with sugar[269]. It is also husked and eaten out of hand like a peanut[269]. The seed contains about 52% starch, 18% protein, 7% fat[114, 174]. It is higher in protein and fat than rice but low in minerals[114]. This is a potentially very useful grain, it has a higher protein to carbohydrate ratio than any other cereal[57], though the hard seedcoat makes extraction of the flour rather difficult.

    A tea can be made from the parched seeds[46, 61, 105, 183], whilst beers and wines are made from the fermented grain[269].

    A coffee is made from the roasted seed[183]. (This report refers to the ssp. ma-yuen)

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – pre-soak for 2 hours in warm water and sow February/March in a greenhouse[164]. The seed usually germinates in 3 – 4 weeks at 25¡c. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots. Grow them on in cool conditions and plant out in late spring after the last expected frosts[1, 164]. Seed can also be sown in situ in May[1] though it would be unlikely to ripen its seed in an average British summer. In a suitable climate, it takes about 4 – 5 months from seed to produce new seed[269]. Division of root offshoots[272]. This is probably best done in the spring as plants come into fresh growth[272].
Succeeds in ordinary garden soil[162]. Best grown in an open sunny border[1, 162]. Prefers a little shelter from the wind. Job’s Tears is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation in the range of 61 to 429cm, an average annual temperature of 9.6 to 27.8¡C and a pH in the range of 4.5 to 8.4[269]. 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[269]. Before corn (Zea mays) became popular in Southern Asia, Job’s tears was rather widely cultivated as a cereal in India[158, 269]. It is a potentially very useful grain having a higher protein to carbohydrate ratio than any other cereal[57]. The seed has a very tough shell however making it rather difficult to extract the grain. The ssp. ma-yuen. (Roman.)Stapf. is grown for its edible seed and medicinal virtues in China, the seedcoat is said to be soft and easily removed[57, 183]. This form is widely used in macrobiotic diets and cuisine[183]. The ssp. stenocarpa is used for beads[57]. Whilst usually grown as an annual, the plant is perennial in essentially frost-free areas[269]. Plants have survived temperatures down to about -35¡c[160]. (This report needs verifying, it seems rather dubious[K].) Plants have often overwintered when growing in a polyhouse with us, they have then gone on to produce another crop of seed in their second year[K]. We have not as yet (1995) tried growing them on for a third year in a polyhouse[K].
E. Asia – E. India.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.