Job’s tears, Chinese pearl barley, Coix lacryma-jobi, adlay seed, Coixseed, ma-yuen

Before middle school even started, I was one of the first kids in my class whose face started to break out with lovable acne. At first, I went along with the pharmaceutical products peers would purchase – you know, the ones you find in teen magazines with fresh, photoshop-tampered faces looking as un-angsty as possible – except they didn’t have photoshop back then, and it was far from becoming the verb we use now. Luckily, my acne was primarily hidden under my bangs. But the lotions and solutions dried up my face and at times, depleted the color! Finally, my mom said enough was enough – of course, she had just heard about something new to try: Chinese pearl barley. Like with most dietary solutions, it took a few months before I suddenly noticed that much of my acne on my forehead had vanished or began to fade. Furthermore, my skin, overall, felt less dry even before applying lotions. So by the time I entered middle school, I was mostly acne-free as I watched the rest of my classmates go through the motions.

How to cook Chinese pearl barley: Chinese pearl barley can be mixed into rice and takes the same amount of time to cook. Therefore, I usually just put as much barley as half the amount of rice I use in my rice cooker. I also put pearl barley into my morning cereal mixture – see previous fox nut entry, but need to soak them overnight. Chinese pearl barley has also been powdered to use for tea, known as, “Job’s tears tea.”

Where to find it: Chinese pearl barley can be found in Asian grocery stores in transparent, plastic packaging, typically labeled, “Pearl barley.” It is spherical, pearl white, and larger than rice. There’s also a brownish groove on one side of the grain.

What else: Now, before getting too excited about barley’s wonderwork and going out to get a six-pack of beer or a bottle of barley wine, Chinese pearl barley is not really barley at all. While misleadingly called “barley,” it is not in the same genus as true barley (Hordeum vulgare). While barley, or H. vulgare, has its own healthy benefits, Chinese pearl barley has also been known as an anti-tumor agent and an alternative treatment for cancer. Chinese pearl barley is used as a traditional Chinese tonic for primarily the skin, lungs, and the spleen. See next section on who’s done the research.

Who’s done the research:

  • The neutral lipid isolated from the endosperm of Job’s tears (NLEJ) has been known to possess an anticancer activity with relatively low toxicity. The present study was designed to examine its antiproliferative effects in the PaTu-8988 and SW1990 human pancreatic cancer cells and to investigate its potential mechanism(s). The data show that NLEJ inhibits pancreatic cancer cell growth through induction of apoptosis and cell cycle arrest as well as regulation of gene expression in vitro. Therefore, NLEJ might be a chemotherapeutic agent against pancreatic cancer. – Bao Y, et al. Neutral lipid isolated from endosperm of Job’s tears inhibits the growth of pancreatic cancer cells via apoptosis, G2/M arrest, and regulation of gene expression. Gastroenterol Hepatol 20(7):1046-53, 2005 Jul.
  • Previous results demonstrated that the methanolic extract of adlay seed exerted an antiproliferative effect on human lung cancer cells in vitro and in vivo and might prevent tobacco carcinogen-induced lung tumorigenesis. In this study, the methanolic extract of adlay seed was tested for its regulation of COX-2 expression of human lung cancer cells. The data demonstrated that treatment of the methanolic extract reduced the PGE(2) level in serum and inhibited COX-2 expression of tumor tissues in nude mice. Taken together, the results suggest that inhibition of COX-2 is one of the mechanisms by which the methanolic extract of adlay seed inhibits cancer growth and prevents lung tumorigenesis. – Hung WC, et al. Methanolic extract of adlay seed suppresses COX-2 expression of human lung cancer cells via inhibition of gene transcription. J Agric Food Chem 51(25):7333-7, 2003 Dec 3.
  • This study examined the effects of different extracts of adlay seed on the growth of human lung cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. The data showed that a methanolic extract, but not a water extract, of adlay seed exerted an antiproliferative effect on A549 lung cancer cells by inducing cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Groups of mice were pre-fed with different diets, followed by feeding with NNK-containing drinking water for 8 months. The results indicated that feeding with diet containing 30% of powdered adlay seed reduced the number of surface lung tumors by approximately 50%. Taken together, these results indicate that the components of adlay seed exert an anticancer effect in vitro and in vivo and may be useful for the prevention of lung tumorigenesis. – Chang HC, et al. Antiproliferative and chemopreventive effects of adlay seed on lung cancer in vitro and invivo. J Agric Food Chem 51(12):3656-60, 2003 Jun 4.
  • Five active compounds that inhibit cancer cells were isolated from adlay bran (Coix lachryma-jobi L. var. ma-yuen Stapf), and their structures and activities in vitro were characterized. These compounds showed anti-cancer activities with IC(50) values between 28.6 and 72.6mug/mL. – Lee MY, et al. Isolation and characterization of new lactam compounds that inhibit lung and colon cancer cells from adlay (Coix lachryma-jobi L. var. ma-yuen Stapf) bran. Food Chem Toxicol 46(6):1933-9, 2008 Jun.
  • A pharmaceutical grade extract of Coix lachryma-jobi seeds is currently the most commonly used treatment for cancer in China. Although clinical data support the use of this preparation of a Traditional Chinese Medicine for cancer treatment, biological basis for the activity of this preparation has not been previously established. To address this issue, we first evaluated the anti-neoplastic activity of a Coix extract emulsion in xenografts of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells and found that the extract significantly inhibits growth of MDA-MB-231 xenografts in athymic nude mice. We determined that Coix seed extract also significantly affects gene expression in these cells, including downregulation of genes that are considered to be important in neoplasia. We concluded that this Traditional Chinese Medicine-based cancer treatment affects cellular pathways of recognized importance in neoplasia. – Woo JH, et al. Coix seed extract, a commonly used treatment for cancer in China, inhibits NFkappaB and protein kinase C signaling. Cancer Biol Ther 6(12):2005-11, 2007 Dec.
  • To find out whether the immunohistochemical expression of neuropeptid Y (NPY) and leptin receptor (LR) in the rat hypothalamus is influenced by adlay seed water extract (adlay), obesity in rats was induced by high fat diet (HFD) for 8 weeks; these rats were injected with 50 mg/100 g body weight adlay daily for 4 weeks. The results suggest that adlay may regulate neuroendocrine activity in the brain. Accordingly, administration of adlay may be considered for therapies targeting obesity. – Kim SO, et al. The water extract of adlay seed (Coix lachrymajobi var. mayuen) exhibits anti-obesity effects through neuroendocrine modulation. Am J Chin Med 35(2):297-308, 2007
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70 thoughts on “Job’s tears, Chinese pearl barley, Coix lacryma-jobi, adlay seed, Coixseed, ma-yuen

  1. Pingback: acne treatments

  2. Hi, just wanna know if “ma-yuen” is the chinese name for this sort of barley?

  3. Hi, thank you for stopping by. According to Wikipedia, “Two varieties of the species are grown. Coix lacryma-jobi var. lacryma-jobi has hard shelled pseudocarps which are very hard, pearly white, oval structures used as beads for making rosaries, necklaces, and other objects. Coix lacryma-jobi var. ma-yuen is harvested as a cereal crop and is used medicinally in parts of Asia.” Click here to learn more.

  4. Does the Coix lachryma-jobi contain Gluten and is it O.K. to use for people with Celiac Disease?

  5. According to the Celiac Sprue Association, Coix/Job’s tears does *not* contain any gluten. Here’s a link:

  6. Thank you, Karen!

  7. Metal Brake on said:

    i love alternative treatments because it is simple and does not have nasty side effects ;:,

  8. lyle witt on said:

    Is Pearl Barley water effective in treating lungs related to asthma?

  9. Found this interesting read on jobs tears capability to fully cure cancer of the throat. It was used and demonstrated in china on a patient that had been written off, because the cancer was very deep seated. After six months of daily jobs tears ingestion he was fully recovered and healed.

  10. I have just bought a bag of job’s tears kernels, to make the tea can i just boil them in water then drink it?

  11. Are they popped kernels? I’m uncertain about popped kernels. I always buy them in the raw, which requires soaking overnight (or for several hours), and then boiling them in hot water for another couple of hours. Or, you can cook them in the steamer like rice.

  12. Dror on said:

    There are still Health Agencies who say that the Coixseeds or Coix lachryma-jobi Are containing Gluten!
    Who can tell us the true about this wonderful Herb???

  13. Pingback: Si Miao San – slowing down cancer and inflammation | A Path With Paws

  14. Nancy on said:

    I spent a lot of money on Job’s tears. I boiled them for two hours, then put them in a crock pot over night. They are still like rocks. What is going on?

  15. Nancy, I always soak them overnight, then I can cook them over the stove, boiling, then simmering for 3 hours. By then, they are definitely soft enough to eat. Hope that helps. You can buy Chinese pearl barley more inexpensively if you go to Chinatown or your local Asian grocery store. Good luck!

  16. michael on said:

    I just bought the “ayam brand white pearl barley” although im not sure its the correct chinese barley im looking for. Can anyone help me out? Its the only brand the store had.

  17. I am still looking for an approved answer about Gluten contain in this wonderful herb, Does anyone can answer if the Chinese pearl barley or
    the Coix lachryma-jobi, contain Gluten and is it O.K. to use for people with Celiac Disease?

  18. Michael, from the Google photo results of the Ayam Brand White Pearl Barley (canned version), it looks like it’s the correct chinese barley.

  19. Dror Nakdimon – from this article, you can see that Job’s tears (specifically, Coix lachryma-jobi) is listed as gluten-free. Furthemore, a September 2006 report from the Australian government lists Job’s tears as a minor millet and gluten-free: Hope this helps.

  20. I love this post and your informative website. Thank you for taking the time to write such a thorough and informative piece.

  21. thank you for visiting – i’m glad you find it helpful! cheers, y

  22. Linda Becker/ on said:

    Where can I thse “Job’s Tears” for planting?

  23. Linda Becker/ on said:

    Where can I buy these “Job’s Tears” for planting?

  24. Here’s an interesting site that discusses the seeds – I didn’t know people made jewelry out of them: . And another site to buy them (again, for jewelry, it seems): Enjoy, Y

  25. Just saw the reply for my question about the Job’s Tears -Coix lachryma-jobi “does it contain gluten”? I am still looking for more information from other sources to be sure!
    But thanks a lot for the web sites you already saw me, I’m still looking for more…

  26. A correction re someone’s question about “Ayam Brand White Pearl Barley”. This is just ordinary barley and not China barley. If buying China barley, definitely don’t get anything that states “Pearl Barley”. Best if it comes in a transparent bag so you can identify the larger China barley grains easily.
    Other than mixing with rice, into stews or making into a drink, I also like to mix cooked barley grains into my morning oats porridge.

  27. thank you, Ice, for the correction. i think it is often best if you can see the product. i always buy my pearl barley from a transparent bag. Happy New Year!!

  28. Anne Ekanem on said:

    Is Barley a remedy for body heat

  29. they say barley can be used as a remedy for body heat, but mung bean is the fastest (<–click here).

  30. monica maldonado on said:

    I always wondered if pear barley and Jobs tears were the same. I’m glad to know my hunch was correct. I learned this as an herb called, yi yi ren and it is used to drain excess fluids/damp in the body, all the way to the bone level.

  31. I am still searching for a valid proof that this wonderful herb DOES NOT CONTAIN GLUTEN!!!
    If someone have the right answer I’ll be glad to know.

  32. as a celiac I would also like to know if jobs tears has gltuen … the link given a few comments above does not work. thanks.

  33. dear Dror and Aeriol, both links above are links to separate .PDF documents. please download each document for more information regarding gluten-free millets and grains, including Job’s Tears. please let me know if you have further trouble with these links. thank you, y

  34. I bought a packet of oats and job’s tears instant mix. I thought job’s tears are barley. Can a normal person with no health problem take it? As for me I intend to make it as a morning or afternoon drink instead of just oatmeal or cup of oatmilk. Thanks.

  35. yes, a normal person with no health problems can eat job’s tears. however, pregnant people should stay away from them! the best advice is, “everything in moderation.”

  36. leticia smith on said:

    I would like to know where on earth I can buy Job’s tears! I have been looking everywhere in London and can only find them at £10 per 100g in Chinese Herbal shops!

  37. hi, Leticia, i am unsure about London, but in most Asian grocery stores in the United States – and even places like an international farmer’s market – Job’s tears (or Chinese barley) are very commonly sold and at an affordable price. they are usually pre-packaged in flat, clear, bags. hope that helps!

  38. Chow on said:

    Hi, I got interested reading about this chinese barley when my brother (an agriculture student) introduced this crop to me. Here in the Philippines, we call it Adlai. However, i am still looking additional information about this crop. Thanks for the info!

  39. Hi, Chow – additional information can be found in the research section above. Note that the last reference refers to chinese barley as “adlay seed.” Let me know when you’ve exhausted the references. Thank you, YL

  40. Roynic Y. Aquino on said:

    Hi I’m roy from Philippines, we are introducing adlay or job’s tears as alternative staple food in the Philippines, I wonder how can I mill the seeds is there any special kind of machine by just removing the hull/seed cover?

  41. hi, Roy. i performed a Google search and found a piece of equipment in China that may be what you’re looking for: hope this helps, y

  42. Mercedes on said:

    Hi there, thank you for all the info on Job’s tears, very helpful. What is the ratio of raw Job’s tears to water when cooking them? I’ve read some conflicting info on different websites. I’ve cooked them once but half of them came out hard.

  43. hi, Mercedes. you need to soak chinese barley for at least four hours before you cook them. try that! good luck, y

  44. leticia smith on said:

    I still just wish I could get hold of these in the UK. Why does no one sell them here! Is there any way I could get hold of some from overseas? Perhaps I could get some shipped over, or does anyone know of a place in the UK they would sell them? I hope they taste good after all that. Leticia

  45. Hi, Leticia, I did a Google search for “pearl barley in the u.k.” and found these sites: and if there’s a Chinatown, chances are you can find them in any Asian grocery store. hope that helps, y

  46. Mercedes on said:

    Hi Yi-Ching Lin,
    I understand that I need to soak the chinese barley but when the barley is finished soaking – What ratio of barley to water should I use?

    For example, if I’m making 1 cup of raw chinese barley how much water do I need to cook them after the barley has soaked for at least four hours?

    Thanks for your help. M

  47. Leticia on said:

    Thanks, pearl barley is not chinese barley though as it is not gluten free. I am not allowed pearl barley. I will keep looking though.

  48. Hi, Leticia, in my Asian grocery stores, and noted on this site (, Job’s Tears are often mislabeled as “Chinese Pearl Barley.” The site goes on to say that:

    If you’re not sure what you are buying then check the price. They are about five times the price of Barley. Second, check the size of the grains. If they are much larger and rounder than Barley – they are not Barley.

    You can also bring a photo of the job’s tears/chinese pearl barley I’ve taken (click on the image to enlarge) to your Asian grocery store to both compare and ask for assistance!

    Good luck, Y

  49. Hi, Mercedes. As with cooking rice, I usually do 1 cup of grains to about 2 cups of water, which I cook with a rice-cooker. Thank you, Y

  50. This the best informational article I have ever read and prove what I have been doing for the last 2 months. I have been drinking Adlay drink (mixed Adlay powder in the boiling water and leave in the fridge). It not only helps fight disease but also helps with a good sleep.

    *You can get Adlay powder in Chinese grocery stores.
    *It is called “Yi Ren” in Chinese.

  51. Melinda, thank you for sharing your experience.

  52. you can buy jobs tears at chieftain wild rice company I will be glad to help you Renae

  53. Kuang Yi Enterprises Co., Ltd. Taipei, Taiwan on said:

    Kuang Yi Enterprises Co., Ltd. 廣屹企業股份有限公司
    Tel.: 8862-2509-2601 / Fax. : 8862-2509-2603
    Email :

  54. hi ,Leticia

    I can provide chinese barley, my home town is well known for chinese barley, also my farther plaint it for many years. every one who is interested in chinese barley can contact me by

  55. Dieyana Jailani on said:

    Hi there! Im a muslim from Singapore. This article really gave me no worries anymore. Coz at first when I bought adlay moisture lotion I wasn’t sure bout it. But im sure it should comes from a plant as I had my doubt a little. Since it is barley, I’ve no doubt in getting them more. With all the comments above, its really a great useful to me. Thanks everyone. 🙂

  56. GUIPETACIO MARY JOY M. on said:


  57. Amadea Shakti on said:

    This seed is not a barley, it just looks like a barley. Among it’s constituents is protein, but it is not gluten. The name in Chinese is yi yi ren, mi ren, yi ren, and yi mi. Botanical name: coix lacryma-job L. var. ma-yuen (Roman) Stapf (Yi Yi).

  58. thank you for the clarification!

  59. Estella Daly on said:

    I enjoyed reading your informative article thankyou.
    I have been seeing a Chinese therapist who has picked my health up out of the gutter, thankfully, through massage and diet.
    My question to you is,
    Does Chinese barley (coix lacryma jobi) have gluten in it?

  60. hi, Estella – please see the comment up above (November 17, 2010 at 2:01 pm). hope that helps!

  61. I am Mantha V Sharma from India. I can supply 1Kg to 100Kgs of Job’s tears seeds. Pl. contact me by my email –

  62. Magda Aidinian on said:

    I cooked this Barley, but it is very bitter. Is this how it should taste? Did I buy Expired product? When I opened the bag, it smelled rancid.
    Please let me know.

    Thank you,

  63. hi, Magda. it should not be bitter – it’s aromatic and tastes a bit like rice.

  64. Thank you for this very helpful information.

  65. glad it helped!

  66. melissa on said:

    I just cooked some and it tastes mouldy. Why would it taste like that and how do I avoid that in the future? It didn’t look mouldy before I cooked it.

  67. that seems odd. how did you cook it, and what did you add to it?

  68. I was searching for job’s tears in bulk food stores in Toronto, and then scrutinizing plastic packages marked as barley on Chinatown shelves. Then, around the corner in the Chinese grocery store where I shop weekly, I found the bulk section. There’s no doubts when the bin is marked with “coix seeds”.

  69. lilet on said:

    barley is not exactly job’s tear?

  70. not “barley,” but “Chinese pearl barley.” see here for more info:'s_tears

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