Yi Yi Ren (Job's Tears): A great summer herb!

As summer approaches, it's time for us to turn to the wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to support our bodies in harmony with the season. In this edition of our "Herb of the Month" series, we shine the spotlight on Yi Yi Ren, also known as Job's tears, a humble food based herb with a rich history of therapeutic use.

Understanding Yi Yi Ren: Nature's Digestive Healer

Yi Yi Ren (Coix lacryma-jobi), often mistaken for barley due to its similar appearance, is a cherished herb in TCM known for its remarkable ability to harmonize the digestive system. Despite its grain-like appearance, Yi Yi Ren is actually a seed, harvested from a grass-like plant native to Asia. It is often used as food therapy in Chinese Nutritional therapy, and can also be used as a single herb tea.

Medicinal Properties and Benefits

This versatile herb offers important medicinal properties that make it a valuable addition to your summer wellness regimen:

  1. Dampness Dispelling: Yi Yi Ren excels in dispelling dampness, a concept in TCM representing excessive moisture or stagnation in the body. Symptoms of dampness can manifest as digestive issues, such as bloating, diarrhea, or constipation, as well as skin problems like acne or eczema. Yi Yi Ren's drying properties help to rebalance the body's internal environment, restoring optimal function to the digestive system and promoting clear, radiant skin. Particularly if you live in humid weather, Yi Yi Ren can be very helpful to counter the effects of excessive heat and humidity on the body.

  2. Spleen Strengthening: In TCM, the Spleen system is akin to the Digestive system, which is responsible for the transformation and transportation of food and fluids, as we say in Chinese Medical theory. Yi Yi Ren gently tonifies/nourishes the stomach and digestive track, enhancing its function and supporting the body's ability to extract nutrients from food while eliminating waste efficiently.

  3. Summer Cooling: As the temperature rises during the summer months, our bodies may become more susceptible to heat-related imbalances. Yi Yi Ren possesses a cooling nature, making it particularly beneficial for addressing heat-induced conditions such as heat rash, excessive sweating, or irritability.

  4. Anti-Inflammatory: Studies have shown that Yi Yi Ren exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, making it a valuable ally in relieving discomfort associated with inflammation, such as joint pain or muscle soreness.

When to Use Yi Yi Ren

Yi Yi Ren is best utilized when dampness predominates in the body, presenting as symptoms like bloating, indigestion, or skin issues. Incorporate Yi Yi Ren into your wellness routine during the summer months to counteract the effects of heat and humidity, promoting balance and vitality.

How to Incorporate Yi Yi Ren

There are various ways to enjoy the benefits of Yi Yi Ren:

  1. Herbal Tea: Brew Yi Yi Ren into a soothing herbal tea by simmering the seeds in hot water for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy this refreshing beverage throughout the day to support digestion and cool the body. You can make Yi Yi Ren tea into an Iced-tea for particularly hot days.

  2. Porridge or Congee: Add Yi Yi Ren to your morning porridge or congee for a nourishing breakfast that promotes digestive health and vitality.

  3. Soup or Stew: Enhance the flavor and nutritional value of soups and stews by including Yi Yi Ren as a nutritious ingredient.

  4. Topical Applications: Create a poultice or paste using powdered Yi Yi Ren and water to soothe inflamed skin conditions such as eczema.


As summer approaches, get some Yi Yi Ren and let it be your herbal companion when the heat hits. With its ability to dispel dampness, support digestion, and cool the body, this ancient remedy offers a natural solution to common summer ailments. Whether enjoyed as a nourishing tea or incorporated into wholesome meals, Yi Yi Ren invites us to balance our body in coordination with the climate and season. 

Dr. Kim Drolet, DACM, LAc

Kim Drolet

Kim Drolet

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