Job’s tears, also known as Chinese pearl barley, received their name due to the way they look while still in the husk: like fat, shining brown or grey teardrops.
They most likely originated in India and were originally grown as a grain plant for at least 4000 years. According to Agnes Arber (The Gramineae, 1965), coix seeds were introduced in China in the first century A.D. by a Chinese general who conquered Tongking, where the grains were widely used as a cereal. The general became so fond of them that he carried back many cartloads of the seeds to his own country. Also, the seeds have long been used in making rosaries and African shaker gourds.
The plant is a tall perennial grass and is usually cultivated as an annual. It grows one to three meters (3.3 to nearly 10 feet) tall and features jointed stems, with long flat leaf blades.
There are two main varieties of the species:
- The cultivated variety, which is harvested as a cereal crop, has a soft shell and is used medicinally in parts of Asia.
- The wild variety, which has hard-shelled pseudo-carps which are very hard, pearly white, oval structures, used as beads for making rosaries, necklaces and other objects.
Beads are made from the seeds
These seeds are said to represent the tears shed by the biblical Job during the challenges he faced. In addition to the attractive bead necklaces, bracelets, belts and earrings, they are also used to make lovely rosaries with a cross at one end. In Central America, strings with these seeds are frequently used for the arms and legs of quaint little seed dolls.
Nutritional facts of Job’s Tears (Coix Seed)
Per 100 g, seeds are reported to contain 380 calories, 15.4 g protein, 11.2 g H2O, 6.2 g fat, 65.3 g total carbohydrate, 0.8 g fiber, 1.9 g ash, 25 mg Ca, 435 mg P, 0.19 mg riboflavin, 5.0 mg Fe, 0.28 mg thiamine and 4.3 mg niacin. (1)
Health benefits of Job’s Tears (Coix Seed)
Cancer – currently going through testing, the Kanglaite Injection is a new effective diphasic anti-cancer medicine, prepared by extracting the active anti-cancer component from these seeds, using modern technology, in order to form an advanced dosage form for intra-arterial and intravenous perfusion. It has been proven experimentally and clinically that this injection has a broad spectrum of anti-metastasis and anti-tumoral action, such as pulmonary cancer and hepatic cancer, along with the action of boosting the host’s immunity.
When used in combined treatment with radiotherapy or chemotherapy, the Kanglaite Injection can increase the sensitivity of tumor cells, reduce the toxicity of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, improve cachexia (weakness and significant loss of appetite), relieve cancerous pain and raise the quality of life in advanced cancer victims. As a fat emulsion, it can provide patients with high-energy nutrients with little toxicity. In addition, Kanglaite Injection inhibits formation of new blood vessels that promote tumor growth, counteracts weight loss due to cancer and improves patients’ quality of life and notably prolongs survival. (2)
Used by traditional Chinese medicine – TCM classifies the nature of the seeds as slightly cold and sweet and they are attributive to stomach, spleen, lungs, large intestine and liver. Moreover, the seeds are acknowledged to invigorate the spleen and promote diuresis, to relieve dampness obstruction and eliminate phlegm. Further, they are proven safe and generally used for treating children with smallpox and skin allergies, babies with heat rashes, and adults with arthritis, obesity, high cholesterol, scanty urine, swelling and pain in joints and sinews, lung infections, rheumatism, cough with blood in sputum and dry scaly skin.
Heart health – its constant consumption reduces heart disease. In 2005, FDA announced that Chinese pearl barley containing products are allowed to claim that they reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. The plant is a good source of niacin – vitamin B3, which confers an array of health benefits, as it increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL) by 20-35% and blocks the release of fatty acids from fat cells, resulting in fewer VLDL particles. Modern scientific research has confirmed the cholesterol lowering properties of these seeds. It was found that the fiber contained in the seeds might decrease the amount of fat and cholesterol the body absorbs.
Consumption of these seeds might decrease blood sugar levels. Diabetes drugs are also used to lower blood sugar, hence taking Job’s tears along with diabetes drugs might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. Consult your doctor, the dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.
Image credit – naturebeads.net