Herb: Wild Soya Bean

Latin name: Glycine soja

Synonyms: Glycine ussuriensis

Family: Leguminosae

Medicinal use of Wild Soya Bean:

The fermented seed is weakly diaphoretic and stomachic. It is used in the treatment of colds, fevers and headaches, insomnia, irritability and a stuffy sensation in the chest. The bruised leaves are applied to snakebite. The flowers are used in the treatment of blindness and opacity of the cornea. The ashes of the stems are applied to granular haemorrhoids or fungus growths on the anus. The immature seedpods are chewed to a pulp and applied to corneal and smallpox ulcers. The seed is antidote. It is considered to be specific for the healthy functioning of bowels, heart, kidney, liver and stomach. The seed sprouts are constructive, laxative and resolvent. They are used in the treatment of oedema, dysuria, chest fullness, decreased perspiration, the initial stages of flu and arthralgia. A decoction of the bark is astringent.

Description of the plant:


60 cm
(2 feet)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Lowland thickets, C. and S. Japan.

Edible parts of Wild Soya Bean:

Mature seed - cooked. Very rich in protein, the seeds can be eaten as they are in soups, stews etc, though they are very commonly used in the preparation of various meat substitutes. The dried seed can be ground into a flour and added to cereal flours or used for making noodles etc. The Japanese make a powder from the roasted and ground seed, it is called "Kinako" and has a nutty flavour and fragrance - it is used in many popular confections. The sprouted seed is eaten raw or added to cooked dishes. The toasted seeds can be eaten as a peanut-like snack. The seed is also made into numerous fermented foods such as miso and tempeh and is also used to make soya milk, used in place of cow's milk. The seed contains 20% oil and 30 - 45% protein. The immature seed is cooked and used like peas or eaten raw in salads. The strongly roasted and ground seeds are used as a coffee substitute. The young seedpods are cooked and used like French beans. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. It is cooked or used as a dressing in salads etc. Young leaves - raw or cooked.

Other uses of the herb:

The seed contains up to 20% of an edible semi-drying oil. It is non-drying according to another report. This oil has a very wide range of applications and is commonly used in the chemical industry. It is used in making soap, plastics, paints etc.

Propagation of Wild Soya Bean:

Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and then sow in early spring in a greenhouse. The seed should germinate within two weeks at a temperature between 12 - 16C. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Seed can also be pre-soaked for 12 hours in warm water and then sown in situ in late spring, though this will not yield well unless the summer is very hot.

Cultivation of the herb:

Lowland thickets, C. and S. Japan.

Known hazards of Glycine soja:

The raw mature seed is toxic and must be thoroughly cooked before being eaten. The sprouted raw seed is sometimes eaten and is considered to be a wholesome food.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.