Uses and Benfits of Adlai Plant / Grass


I am quite fascinated with this grass. I never knew its name before.  The fruits look like a mini shell with colors brown, black and usually grey. Every hard grain has a hole for inserting a thin piece of nylon string. We used to collect it for the purpose of making bracelets and necklaces.

The plant looks like a miniature version of corn. I usually see it near watery areas like rice field and near rivers. We regarded it as weed until I read the “Facts About Adlai” – a magazine published by the Department of Agriculture Region 4A (CALABARZON). The featured image is very similar to what we thought as weed.

adlai plant on magazine

The plant is commonly known as adlai, adlay, job’s tears or Coix lacryma-jobi L.  The plant grain can be eaten the same manner as rice. Can be fried and coated with sugar. Use for soups and broths. For beers and wine making. For vinegar manufacture. For Job’s Tear tea – a thick drink made from adlai powder. For okroju – a liquor made of adlai and rice.

Grains are usually harvested after four to five months of sowing. Separated from stalks through threshing and , like rice, seeds are first sun dried before milling. It has at least 50% starch, 14 percent protein and six percent fat.

It is used as remedy for various tumors like the abdominal tumors, esophageal and gastrointestinal, as well as warts.

The plant can be used for treating abscess, anodyne, anthrax, appendicitis, arthritis, beri beri, bronchitis, catarrh, diabetes, dysentery, dysuria, edema, fever, goiter, halitosis, headache, hydrothorax, metroxenia, phthisis, pleurisy, pneumonia, puerperium, rheumatism, small-pox, splenitis, strangury, tenesmus and worms. Claims still needs scientific evidences.

Some studies indicated that adlai has anti-allergic, anti-mutagenic, hypolipemic and anti-diabetic effects.

It is also said to exhibit anti-cancer activity. In a study by Hung et al 2003, Adlai seeds were found to exert and antiproliferative effect on human lung cancer in vitro and in vivo and might also prevent the development of tobacco carcinogen-induced tumors. Its anti-cancer activity was further proven by the study of Lee et al 2008 who isolated five active compounds from adlai bran which inhibit cancer cells.

In traditional Chinese medicine, adlai hull extract is used to treat dysmenorrhea and was proven in a recent study that, indeed, is a feasible alternative therapeutic agent.

benefits courtesy of BAR Chronicles via Kabalikat Magazine of CALABARZON. image courtesy of kabalikat.


update as of may 26, 2011

Mom brought home adlai seedling. I was expecting a handful of grains. Sadly, all adlai plants are already dead. New plants are beginning to sprout.

adlai seedling