March 30, 2023 3 min read

Title: Healing Potential of Coix lacryma-jobi Seed in Tibetan and Ayurvedic Medicine: A Comprehensive Review of Scientific Studies


Coix lacryma-jobi, commonly known as Job's tears or adlay, is a grain-bearing plant with a long history of use in traditional medicine, particularly Tibetan and Ayurvedic medicine. This monograph aims to review scientific studies on the healing potential of Coix lacryma-jobi seeds and their pharmacological properties. Emphasis is placed on the traditional uses in Tibetan and Ayurvedic medicine and the modern scientific evidence supporting these claims.


The Coix lacryma-jobi plant belongs to the Poaceae family and is native to Southeast Asia. Its seeds have been used for thousands of years as both food and medicine in various traditional medicine systems, including Tibetan and Ayurvedic medicine. This monograph aims to provide a comprehensive review of the scientific studies supporting the healing potential of Coix lacryma-jobi seeds and their applications in Tibetan and Ayurvedic medicine.

Coix lacryma-jobi Seed Composition and Pharmacological Properties:

1.1. Chemical Constituents:

The seeds of Coix lacryma-jobi contain various bioactive compounds, including coixenolide, coixol, triterpenoids, polysaccharides, proteins, and essential amino acids.

1.2. Pharmacological Properties:

The seeds exhibit various pharmacological properties, such as anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and antitumor activities.

Traditional Uses in Tibetan Medicine:

2.1. Anti-inflammatory and Analgesic Properties:

In Tibetan medicine, Coix lacryma-jobi seeds treat inflammation and relieve pain. Scientific studies have shown that coixenolide and coixol possess anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects through the inhibition of pro-inflammatory cytokines (e.g., TNF-α, IL-6) and modulation of the COX-2 enzyme.

2.2. Treatment of Skin Disorders:

The seeds are also used to treat various skin disorders, including eczema and psoriasis. The triterpenoid compounds present in the seeds have been found to exhibit antiproliferative and anti-inflammatory effects on skin cells, supporting their traditional use in the treatment of these conditions.

Traditional Uses in Ayurvedic Medicine:

3.1. Digestive Disorders:

In Ayurvedic medicine, Coix lacryma-jobi seeds are used to treat digestive disorders such as diarrhea, dysentery, and indigestion. Scientific studies have shown that the polysaccharides present in the seeds have protective effects against gastrointestinal inflammation and enhance intestinal barrier function.

3.2. Antidiabetic Properties:

The seeds are also used in Ayurveda to manage diabetes. Research has demonstrated that Coix lacryma-jobi seed extract has potential hypoglycemic and antidiabetic effects, due to the presence of bioactive compounds such as coixans A and B, which can improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.

Additional Healing Potentials:

4.1. Antitumor Activity:

Recent studies have shown that Coix lacryma-jobi seed extract exhibits antitumor activity against various cancer cell lines, including breast, lung, and colon cancer. The antitumor effects are attributed to the coixenolide and triterpenoid compounds, which induce apoptosis and inhibit tumor cell proliferation.

4.2. Immunomodulatory Effects:

Coix lacryma-jobi seed polysaccharides have been found to exhibit immunomodulatory effects by stimulating macrophage activity and enhancing the production of cytokines such as IL-1 and IL-6. These effects may improve immune function and overall health, supporting the traditional use of the seeds in treating various illnesses.

4.3. Antioxidant Properties:

Coix lacryma-jobi seeds possess antioxidant properties due to the presence of phenolic compounds and flavonoids. These compounds can scavenge free radicals, reduce oxidative stress, and protect against cellular damage. This may contribute to the seeds' overall healing potential in various diseases.

Safety and Toxicity:

5.1. General Safety:

Coix lacryma-jobi seeds are generally considered safe when consumed in moderate amounts. There have been few reported cases of side effects or toxicity. However, excessive consumption of the seeds may lead to gastrointestinal discomfort, diarrhea, or bloating.

5.2. Contraindications and Precautions:

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should exercise caution when using Coix lacryma-jobi seeds, as there is limited information regarding their safety during pregnancy and lactation. Individuals with known allergies to Coix lacryma-jobi or other members of the Poaceae family should avoid consuming the seeds. Additionally, those taking medications for diabetes should consult with their healthcare provider, as Coix lacryma-jobi seeds may have hypoglycemic effects that could interfere with blood sugar control.


Coix lacryma-jobi seeds have been used for centuries in traditional Tibetan and Ayurvedic medicine for their various healing potentials. Modern scientific studies have provided evidence supporting many of these traditional uses, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antidiabetic, antitumor, and immunomodulatory properties. Further research is needed to explore the full potential of Coix lacryma-jobi seeds and their bioactive compounds in preventing and treating various diseases. Overall, the seeds show promise as a valuable functional food and therapeutic agent in both traditional and modern medicine.

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