Scientific name: Coix lachryma-jobi L. var. ma-yuen Stapf
Japanese Name: Hatumuji
Part Used: Grain
Principal Use: Building food for convalescent, debility, run down states
Principal Actions: Tonic
History and Traditional Uses of Hatomugi
Hatomugi is an annual grass, indigenous to South Asia, that was introduced to Japan 1200 years ago. Interestingly, it arrived in Japan with a wave of pomp and ceremony. A Chinese monk named Ganzin presented it together with Buddhist scriptures to the then Japanese emperor. It did not come into Japan quietly, rather with a band roll!
Its use was always two-fold – food and medicine. In Japanese, Hato means “dependable good harvest” and Mugi means wheat. As the name implies, Hatomugi is a stout and vigorous grower, thriving in a variety of locations including those not usually able to produce other crops. It thrives even in wastelands. The plant produces spike-like flowers in summer and bears brown oval fruits in autumn. Throughout Asia, the Hatimugi is seen as a reliable source of sustenance-the one crop that seems to produce no matter what.
When it first arrived in Japan it was used almost entirely by Chinese monks and Chinese medicine practitioners. As time passed, Japanese folk healers came to know it and it became an indispensable part of the Japanese medical repertoire. They saw it as a source of life-building food.
In Japanese folk medicine Hatomugi is seen as a tonic medicine which increases health and vitality amongst the well and improves the health of those that are ailing. In traditional Japanese medicine it is used to treat warts, rheumatism, gonorrhea, hypertension, appendicitis, arthritis, beriberi, bronchitis, cancer, diarrhea, dry skin, dysuria, edema, hydrothorax, inflammation, pleurisy , pneumonia, pulmonary abscess, tuberculosis. It is highly recommended to make the skin appear young and supple and to increase breast milk. These two uses are telling- both indicate the medicine is a boost to vitality.
The Science of Hatimugi
Fatty acids: coixenolide (0-0.25%)
Fixed oil (5-7%)
Proteins (18%) coicin
Saccharides: coixans A,B,C, glycans CA-1, CA-2; starch (52%)
Steroids: feruloyl stignasterol, feruloyl campesterol
Hatomugi is rich in carbohydrates, essential amino acids , oleic acid, vitamins, minerals, and fibers. Indeed, it contains more essential amino acids than any other grain. Nutritionally speaking, there is no better food than Hatimugi.
Research has established it to have a host of activities beyond its ability to fuel the bodies life processes.
• The fiber it contains prevents cholesterol absorption by the digestive tract. These same fibers resolve constipation as they act as a bulk laxative.
• The oleic acid it contains strengthens blood vessels and has been found to prevent arteriosclerosis, a risk factor for the development of both heart attack and stroke.
• The seed is rich in iron, indeed, it contains twice as much as brown rice and can be used to prevent anemia.
• Scientific research has shown that one constituent, coixenolide suppresses cancer cells.
• Another constituent, germanium, has been shown to act as an anti-carcinogenic compound. Hatomugi has been used as anti-cancer drug in some Chinese medicine hospitals and good results are reported!
Hatomugi is used in many different forms. The grains are tasty and can be prepared into a very nourishing and pleasant gruel. The refined powder is used in a number of nourishing building foods. A tea is made from the seeds, and Hatomugi vinegar is used as a medicine and as a condiment. There are many ways to take advantage of this healthful supplement!
By and far the most common use is as a tonic food. People feeling under the weather and or recovering from an illness are all likely candidates for a Hatimugi treatment. It can be used to strengthen the young and the old during the cold season to help them fight off any infectious disease that might be passing around the community. Business people experiencing unusually heavy burdens of work find they have more energy when they use Hatimugi on a regular basis. Indeed, nothing could better for a person fighting serious disease like cancer than a regular dose of Hatimugi.
• Medicinal Plants of China, p488
• Kun-Ying Yen, The Illustrated Chinese Materia Medica, SMC Publishing INC., p166, 1992
• Dan Benski and Andrew Gamble, Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica, Eastland Press, p193-194, 1986
• Kikuo Ishida, Hatomugi, Noubunkyou, 1981
• Kazuo Izawa, Color Encyclopedia of Medicinal Herbs, Shufunotomo-sha, p814, 1998
• Sachiko Okada, Hatomugi cooking Bookman-sha, 1995
Disclaimer: The author makes no guarantees as to the the curative effect of any herb or tonic on this website, and no visitor should attempt to use any of the information herein provided as treatment for any illness, weakness, or disease without first consulting a physician or health care provider. Pregnant women should always consult first with a health care professional before taking any treatment.