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Herbs & Botanicals

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Coix Seed (yi yi ren)

What are coix seeds? What are they used for?

Coix seeds come from the coix plant, which is grown in the Fujian, Hebei and Liaoning provinces in China. The seeds are usually oval-shaped or egg-shaped, with a milky white outer surface and a slightly sweet taste.

Coix seeds are harvested in the fall when the coix plant ripens and are dried in the sun. They are usually used unprepared, or they are stir-baked until the outer shell has a yellowish color.

In traditional Chinese medicine, coix seeds serve several functions. The stimulate function of the spleen and lung, remove heat (which helps in the drainage of pus) and induce diuresis. Coix seeds are also used to treat the symptoms of diarrhea and arthritis.

How much coix seed should I take?

The amount of coix seeds taken depends on the condition being treated. A typical dosage is between 10-30 grams, which can be combined with water for a decoction, or ground into powder.

What forms of coix seed are available?

Unprepared and stir-fried coix seeds can be found at some Asian markets. Coix seed decoctions and powders are more difficult to find, but still available in some markets and specialty stores.

What can happen if I take too much coix seed? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

At present, there are no known contraindications, side-effects or drug interactions with coix seed. However, you should always consult with a qualified health care practitioner before taking coix seeds or any other dietary supplement or herbal remedy.

References

  • Chen J, Weng W. Medicinal food: the Chinese perspective. J of Med Food 1998;1(2):117-122.
  • Holm LG, et al. A Geographical Atlas of World Weeds. John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1979.
  • Walker G. 1971. Job's tears. Lasca Leaves 21(1):14-18.
  • Weng W, Chen J. The eastern perspective on functional foods based on traditional Chinese medicine. Nutrition Reviews 1996;54(11):S11-S16.
  • Yin J. A Modern Study and Clinical Application of Chinese Medicine. Beijing:Publishing House of Ancient Book of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 1995, pp. 388-392.

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