Skincare inspiration from ancient Chinese medicine-Coix seed (Yi Ren, 薏仁)

Coix Seed (Yi Ren) is the grain from a tall tropical plant of the family Poaceae (grass) family called Job’s tears (Coix lacryma-jobi), coixseed, tear grass, adlay, or adlai.  The seeds are usually oval-shaped or egg-shaped, with a milky white outer surface.  Compare to other grain, the seed has a slightly sweet taste.  In China, coix seed is used as both a common food and a remedial herb.

According to the “Mystic Farmer’s Herbal Handbook,” coix seed “strengthens spleen and stomach, benefits lung by clearing lung infection, treat windy cold, nourishes and replenishes skin, removes wrinkles, promotes overall health and extends life span.”  Chinese herbal medicine believes that coix seed is capable of clearing systematic toxin.  Therefore, the herb is used a diuretic to treat edema and for treating conditions such as lung infection, gastrointestinal diseases including diarrhea and abdominal bloating, arthritis, apendiciis, beriberi, muscle pain, and skin conditions such as skin infection, acne, and pimples. 
Because of its ability to clear systematic toxin, Chinese has used coix seed as a “beauty food” or skinare food for centuries.  Using regularly, the herb is believe to smooth, refine, and tone the skin, shrink pore size, prevent and treat pimples, prevent and treat dark spots resulted from over exposure from sun, old age, pregnancy (hormonal imbalance induced dark spots), even skin tone, moisturize skin, and prevent dry skin caused chapping and  rough skin. 
Chemical composition wise, coix seed has a rich content of essential fatty acids such as linoleic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, cis-8-oc-tadecenoic acid, hexanoic acid, nonanoic acid, octanoic aid, and ethylpalmitate, esters such as coixenolide, ethylpalmitate, methyllinoleate, α-monoolein, ethyllinoleate, γ-nonalactone, steroids such as cis-trans-feruloylstigmasterol, glycosides such as coixan A, B, and C, and polysaccharides such as CA-1 and CA-2.  In addition, coix seed contains about 13-14% of protein and is rich in Vitamin B1, B12, and E. 

Essential fatty acids are responsible for the herb’s anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects; steroids promotes hormonal balance; polysaccharides can strengthen immune system and lower blood sugar; coix seed protein and Vitamin B1, B12, and E can reduces wrinkle formation, smooth skin, and remove dark spots.  In addition, the proteolytic enzymes in coix seed can dissolve skin keratin layer and therefore soften and moisten the skin. 
According to modern pharmacological studies, coix seed affects cardiovascular system by control breathing center in brain, and expand capillary blood vessel in lung; inhibits tumor especially tumors in digestive system and lung; strengthens immune systems and inhibits inflammation; lowers blood sugar level; inhibits smooth muscle contraction, reduces smooth muscle spasm, and therefore promotes muscle recovery; reduces fever and is analgesic; reduces blood calcium level and postpone aging process; and reduces edema by function as a diuretic.  It is also notices that coix seed powder has UV absorption ability and therefore the coix seed powder can be used as a sun block by adding into skincare products.
Have I said enough good things about coix seed?  To have a healthy skin, make coix seed part of your diet.  You can buy the grain in pretty much any Asian market.  In addition, here are some recipes on how to incorporate coix seed into your skincare regim.

Coix seed mask
Mix coix seed powder, moon bean powder, and a little diluted honey (to increase the stickiness of the paste) to make a soft and consistent paste.  Spread the past over your face.  Leave dry.  Then, rinse with warm water and end with a splash of cold water.  This mask is effective in moisturizing and even the skin tone.  You can substitute diluted honey with a plain yogurt or milk.  If the paste is not sticky enough, add a little egg yolk.
Coix seed Bai Zhi mask
Mix coix see powder, Bai Zhi powder (I discussed this herb in my last post), and a little milk to make a soft and consistent paste.  Add a little egg yolk and aloe vera gel to increase the stickiness.  Spread the past over your face.  Leave dry.  Then, rinse with warm water and end with a splash of cold water. 
This mask is effective in remove dark spots, even skin tone, and clearing the oily skin.

Coix seed powder sun block lotion

Keep a bottle of fine Coix seed powder in your bathroom.  When putting on your daily moisturizer, mix a little coix seed power with the lotion in your palm.  Use the mixture as a sun block.  Only mix the two before the use.  Don't mix the coix seed powder into your lotion and let the mixture sit for a long time.  The lotion can go bad easily.

Thanks for reading.