Job’s Tears. (Lachryma jobi Coix)
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.
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.