Family • Gramineae - Coix lachryma Linn. - JOB'S TEARS - Chuan gu

Scientific names

Coix lachryma Linn.
Coix lachryma-jobi Linn.
Coix agrestis Lour.
Coix exaltata Jacq.
Coix arundinacea Lamk.
Chuan gu gen (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

ARABIC: Badrang, Dam’Ayub, Amadrayan.
CHINESE: Yemi ren, ye yi ren, ye yi mi, shan yi mi.
FRENCH: Larmes de Job, larmilles,
GERMAN: Hiobsträne, Hiobstränengras.
INDONESIA: Jali, jali betul, jali watu. herbe a chapelets.
ITALIAN: Lacrima di Giobbe, lacrime di Gesu, erba da corone.
JAPANESE: Juzudama.
KHMER: Skuoy.
LAOS: Duay
MALAYSIA: Jelai batu, jelai pulut, menjelai.
SPANISH: Lagrimas de San Pedro, Lagrimas de Job.
THAILAND: Duai, maduai.
VIETNAM: [ys] d[ix], bo bo, c[uw][owf]m g[aj]o

Common names

Abukai (Iv.) Katigbi (C. Bis.)
Adlai (Bis.) Kibaoung (If.)
Agagai (Iv.) Koldasan (Bik.)
Agda (Ig.) Kudlasan (Tag.)
Aglai (C. Bis.) Lamudias (P. Bis.)
Alimudias (P. Bis.) Lias (Sub.)
Apagi (Ig.) Paias (P. Bis., Bag.)
Atakai (Ilk., Bon.) Pintaka (C. Bis.)
Balantakan (Pamp.) Tidbi (S. L. Bis.)
Barubaioko (Bik.) Tigbi (Bik., Tag.)
Bintikai (Bik.) Tigbikai (Bik.)
Bitogan (Bag.) TIguas (Sul,)
Daldi (Sub.) Tikaian (Bon.)
Damdu (C. Bis.) Coix Seed (Engl.)
Glias (Sub.) Job’s tears (Engl.)
Kalabugau (Buk.) Pearl barley (Engl.)
Kambot (Ting.) St. Mary’s tears (Engl.)
Katayan (Ig.) Chuan gu (Chin.)

Katigbi is a plant growing 1 to 2 meters high. Stem is erect, branched and stout. Leaves are 10 to 40 centimeters long, 2.5 to 4 centimeters wide, with a broad and cordate base. Spikes are 6 to 10 centimeters long, erect, and peduncled. Male spikelets are about 8 millimeters long. Fruits are capsules, enclosing the female flowers. Grains are hard, bony, white or nearly black, shining, ovoid, about 8 millimeters long.


– Common throughout the Philippines in settled areas, at low and medium altitudes, in most or all islands and provinces.
– Native of the Old World.
– Now pantropic.

• Adlai contains 21.27% moisture, 6.09% ash, 9.11% protein, 0.45% fat, 0.412% crude fiber, and 77.16% carbohydrates.
• The grain contains a protein, prolamin, with a high percentage of leucine, tyrosine, glutamic acid, and basic amino acids arginine, histidine, and lysine. Protein is called coicin.
• Extracts have yielded coixenolides, attributed antitumor activity.
• Study isolated 6 benzoxazinoids from the roots of CL
• Study evaluating seed phytonutrients yielded a total vitamin E content of 37.38 mg/kg, two major components were y-tocopherol and y-tocotrienol. Squalene content ranged from 31.23 to 55.00 mg/kg. Tested varieties exhibited squalene content ranging from 31.23 to 55.00 mg kg. Phytosterols content yielded campesterol 80.43, stigmasterol 131.1, and β-sitosterol 313.38. Of the six detected fatty acids, the major fatty acids were oleic (46.3%) and linoleic acids (37.4%).


• Grain starch is tonic.
• Fruit considered antiinflammatory, antipyretic, antiseptic, antitumor, antispasmodic, hypoglycemic, hypotensive, vermifuge.
• Seeds considered to be nutritious, cooling, diuretic, demulcent, depurative, antihelmintic, antirheumatic, pectoral, tonic.
• Root of plant considered an excellent anthelmintic.



Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Antitumor components isolated from the Chinese herbal medicine Coix lachryma-jobi / NUMATA M. et al /Planta medica / 1994, vol. 60, no4, pp. 356-359

(2) Inhibitory effects of methanol extract of seeds of Job’s Tears (Coix lachryma-jobi L. var. ma-yuen) on nitric oxide and superoxide production in RAW 264.7 macrophages/ Seo WG, Pae HO, Chai KY, Yun YG, Kwon TH, Chung HT / Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2000 Aug;22(3):545-54.

(3) Effects of Adlay (Coix lachryma-jobi L. var. ma-yuen Stapf.) Hull Extracts on the Secretion of Progesterone and Estradiol In Vivo and In Vitro / Hsia SM, Yeh CL, Kuo YH, Wang PS, Chiang W. / Experimental Biology and Medicine 232:1181-1194 (2007) / doi: 10.3181/0612-RM-306

(4) Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Benzoxazinoids from Roots of Coix lachryma-jobi var. Ma-yuen / Hideaki Otsuka, Yuko Hirai, Tsuneatsu Nagao, Kazuo Yamasaki / J. Nat. Prod., 1988, 51 (1), pp 74–79 / DOI: 10.1021/np50055a009

(5) Chinese medicine, Coix seeds increase peripheral cytotoxic T and NK cells / Yoh Hidaka, Tatsunari Kaneda et al / Biotherapy, Volume 5, Number 3 / October, 1992 / DOI 10.1007/BF02171052

(6) The abortifacient effects from the seeds of Coix lachryma-jobi L. var. ma-yuen Stapf. / Tzeng HP, Chiang W et al / J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2005 Sep;68(17-18):1557-65

(7) Coix lacryma-jobi L. / Vernacular names / GLOBinMED

(8) Sorting Coix names / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher, / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 – 2000 The University of Melbourne

(9) Chemical Composition and Effects on Carbohydrate Metabolism of Chloroform Fraction of Coix lachryma-jobi (L) Stem Extract / T.H. Phung, H.A. Nguyen, Q.C. Nguyen, T.D. Nguyen, and T.H. Nguyen / Mahidol University Journal of Pharmaceutical Science 2012; 39 (1), 19-24


(11) Gastroprotective activities of adlay (Coix lachryma-jobi L. var. ma-yuen Stapf) on the growth of the stomach cancer AGS cell line and indomethacin-induced gastric ulcers. / Chung CP, Hsia SM, Lee MY, Chen HJ, Cheng F, Chan LC, Kuo YH, Lin YL, Chiang W. / J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Jun 8;59(11):6025-33. Epub 2011 May 5.

(12) The Water Extract of Adlay Seed (Coix lachrymajobi var. mayuen) Exhibits Anti-Obesity Effects Through Neuroendocrine Modulation / Sung Ok Kim, Su-Jin Yun, and Eunjoo H. Lee / The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, Vol. 35, No. 2, 297–308

(13) Progress in pharmacodynamics and clinical studies of active components of Coix Seed (Semen Coicis) and its preparation – Kanglaite Injection (KLT) / LI Dapeng / Zhejiang TCM University, 548 Bingwen Rd, Bingjiang District, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, 310053, China

(14) Antimutagenic constituents of adlay (Coix lachryma-jobi L. var. ma-yuen Stapf) with potential cancer chemopreventive activity / Chen HH, Chiang W, Chang JY, Chien YL, Lee CK, Liu KJ, Cheng YT, Chen TF, Kuo YH, Kuo CC. / J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Jun 22;59(12):6444-52. doi: 10.1021/jf200539r. Epub 2011 May 17.

(15) Inhibitory effects of adlay bran (Coix lachryma-jobi L. var. ma-yuen Stapf) on chemical mediator release and cytokine production in rat basophilic leukemia cells. / Chen HJ1, Lo YC, Chiang W. / J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 May 7;141(1):119-27. / doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2012.02.009. Epub 2012 Feb 14.

(16) Identification of Compounds in Adlay (Coix lachryma-jobi L. var. ma-yuen Stapf) Seed Hull Extracts That Inhibit Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Inflammation in RAW 264.7 Macrophages / Din-Wen Huang, Cheng-Pei Chung, Yueh-Hsiung Kuo *, Yun-Lian Lin * and Wenchang Chiang * / J. Agric. Food Chem., 2009, 57 (22), pp 10651–10657 / DOI: 10.1021/jf9028514

(17) COIX: FOOD AND MEDICINE / Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D. / Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon

(18) Inhibitory effects of adlay bran (Coix lachryma-jobi L. var. ma-yuen Stapf) on chemical mediator release and cytokine production in rat basophilic leukemia cells / Hong-Jhang Chen, Yi-Chen Lo, Wenchang Chiang / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 141, Issue 1, 7 May 2012, Pages 119–127

(19) Studies of enzyme inhibitors and endochitinase in seeds of job’s tears (Coix lachryna-jobi) / Ary, Marta Baccache / Thesis, 1994

(20) Triterpene-loaded microemulsion using Coix lacryma-jobi seed extract as oil phase for enhanced antitumor efficacy: preparation and in vivo evaluation / Ding Qu, Junjie He, Congyan Liu, Jing Zhou, Yan chen / International Journal of Nanomedicine 2014:9 109–119 / http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/IJN.S54796


Parts utilized
Roots, seeds.

Edibility / Culinary
– Chief value of the plant is the edibility of the fruit. Grains are nutritious, with a higher content of protein compared to rice.
– Tea from the parched seeds.
– Coffee from the roasted seeds.
– Beer and wine from fermented grains.


– In the Philippines, decoction of the root has been used for gonorrhea.
– Roots also used as vermifuge for children.
– Starch from the grain used as tonic and as restorative in convalescence.
– Tea from boiled seeds drunk for treatment of warts. Also used for lung abscesses, appendicitis, rheumatoid arthritis, dysuria.
– Seeds are prescribed for blenorrhagia.
– In India, roots used for menstrual disorders.
– In Liberia, juice from the stem used as drops for eye irritation due to injury.
– Decoction and tincture of seeds are emollient in catarrhal affections, in bronchitis, and inflammatory conditions of the urinary tract.
– Seeds have been used as anti-inflammatory medicine.
– In Mexico, decoction or infusion of leaves used for diabetes.
– In Japan and China, spirit from seeds used for rheumatic affections.
– In China, used for cancer treatment (30-60 gm of coix, with glutinous rice as gruel, daily, year round. Used for dysfunctions of the endocrine system. Also, used for ascites secondary to liver cirrhosis.
– In Chinese traditional medicine, considered nutritious, demulcent, cooling, pectoral, and anthelmintic. Used for spleen invigoration, diarrhea, oliguria, edema, beriberi, appendicitis and warts. Also, used as food for the dyspeptic. Coix seed has been used in the preparations used in the treatment of tumors.
– In Europe, tincture or decoction of seed use for catarrhal afflictions of the air passages.
– In Vietnam stems are used in some diabetic recipes.
– In Japan, used for warts.

– Ornaments: The berries as strung as beads for rosaries and decorative for curtains, bags, trays, necklaces, etc.
– Matting: Stems used for matting.

Study Findings
• Antitumor: Components isolated from the Chinese herbal medicine Coix lachryma-jobi showed antitumor activity attributed to the acidic fraction which was composed of four free fatty acids: palmitic, stearic, oleic and linoleic acids.
• Antiinflammatory / Seeds:Results showed the methanol seed extract of seeds of CL showed antiinflammatory properties which may involved the inhibition of NO and O2 production by activated macrophages.
• Antiinflammatory / Roots:Study on the antiinflammatory activities of six benzoxazinoids from roots of Coix lachryma-jobi var. Ma-yuen showed the free hydroxyl group in the benzoxazinone skeleton involved in the expression of inhibitory activity.
• Progesterone Production Inhibition: Study suggested decrease of progesterone production via mechanisms involving the inhibition of cAMP pathway, enzyme activities and protein expressions in rat granulosa cells.
• Cytotoxicity / Anti-Viral: In a study of its in vivo effects on healthy volunteers, showed the Coix seeds increase peripheral cytotoxic lymphocytes and may be effective to viral infection through enhancement of cytotoxic activity.
• Macrophage Biostatic Activity: Results of study of water extract of seeds suggest that some components other than the non-proteinous and defatted components in Coix lachryma seeds may contribute to activate macrophages through induction of NO for the biostatic activity.
• Osteoporosis Prevention: Results of study of the water extract of adlay seed suggest it may be capable of reversing the osteoporotic status in rats and may be a helpful healthy food for osteoporosis prevention.
• Abortifacient / Embryotoxicity: Results indicate the water extracts of adlay seeds are capable of inducing embryotoxicity and enhancing uterine contractility during pregnancy, possibly through the enhanced activities of PKC-alpha, ERK1/2 and COX-2.
• Hypoglycemic Effect / ß-sitosterol and Stigmasterol: Study on STZ-induced hyperglycemia in mice, the chloroform fraction of an ethanol extract significantly reduced blood glucose as well as gluconeogenic enzyme activities. Two compounds isolated, ß-sitosterol and stigmasterol, have been reported as hypoglycemic.
• Hypocholesterolemic / Antioxidant: Study of polyphenol extracts on high cholesterol diet fed rats showed an effective reduction of TC, LDL cholesterol, and oxidative stress marker, MDA (malondialdehyde). There was also an increase in HDL-C and antioxidant capacity.
• Anticancer / Breast and Skin: Coix lachryma and Asparagus cochinchinensis showed breast and and skin anticancer activity. Coix lachryma ethanol extract yielded terpenoids, steroids, and phenolics; For Coix lachryma, the methylene chloride extract showed the most activity.
• Gastroprotective / Anticancer / Antiulcer: Study of extracts of bran and endosperm showed antiproliferative activity, with inhibitory effects, especially by caffeic and chlorogenic acids, on a gastric cancer cell line. Study also showed an antiulcer activity in an indomethacin-induced gastric lesion model.
• Anti-Obesity / Neuroendocrine Modulation: Study in high-fat diet induced obesity in rats, results showed adlay seen water extract may regulate neuroendocrine activity in the brain, causing reduction in body fat mass, body weight, serum leptin level and immune activities of NPY (neuropeptide Y) and LR (leptin receptor). Adlay presents as a potential for therapies targeting obesity.
• Coix Seeds / Kanglaite Injection (KLT) Preparation / Anticancer and Immunomodulating: A review on the pharmacological actions of Coix seed and its preparation Kanglaite Injection reports antitumor and immunomodulating actions.
• Antimutagenic Components / Cancer Chemopreventive: Study yielded six compounds exhibiting great antimutagenic activity: p-hydroxybenzaldehyde, vanillin, syringaldehyde, trans-coniferylaldehyde, sinapaldehyde, and coixol. Two exhibited potent scavenging of DPPH radicals. Among the six, trans-coniferylaldehyde may be a highly promising agent for cancer chemoprevention.
• Anti-Allergic / Inhibition of Chemical Mediator Release: Study evaluated the anti-allergic effects of adlay bran on rat basophilic leukemia (RBL)-2H3cells. Results showed adlay bran extract reduced the release of histamines and cytokines and suppressed production of Akt. The anti-allergic effect was through its effect on signal transduction in RBL-2H3 cells.
• Fructooligosaccharide / Antioxidant: Fructooligosaccharide (FOS), a prebiotic was extracted from the grain of Coix lachryma-jobi Lin. The FOS-containing extract exhibited antioxidant activity by DPPH free radical scavenging assay comparable to vitamin with a slight lipid peroxidation inhibition activity. Results suggest a potential for use as antioxidant in food and cosmetic products.
• Anti-Inflammatory / Seed Hull: Study evulated the effects of adlay seed hull extracts on liposaccharide-induced inflammatory response in RAW 264.7 macrophages. Study showed anti-inflammatory effect which was attributed, in part, to eriodictyol and ceramide (2S,3S,4R)-2-[(2′R)-2′-hydroxytetracosanoyl-amino]-1,3,4-octadecanetriol, isolated for the first time from seed hull extracts.
• Anti-Allergic: Adlay bran extract reduced the release of histamines and cytokines and suppressed the production of Akt. , combined effects that influenced the signal transuction in RBL-2H3 cells, revealing mechanisms of the anti-allergic effects of adlay.
• Endochitinase / Seeds: Studies of the purification, characterization and primary structure of protein inhibitors of trypsin and -amylase from seeds of Job’s Tears (Coix lachryma-jobi) were undertaken. Endochitinase activity was demonstrated. The results suggest a first characterization of a plant protein with activity as an enzyme and as an enzyme inhibitor.
• Anti-Tumor / Seeds: Triterpene-loaded microemulsions using Coix lachryma seed oil was evaluated for enhanced antitumor activity. The TME preparation showed markedly enhanced antitumor efficacy in a xenograft model of Lewis lung cancer after intragastric administration. Compared to cyclophosphamide, the TME showed similar antitumor activity but less general toxicity.