Couchgrass Summary:

Couchgrass is best known for its gentle diuretic actions, and ability to sooth the mucosa. It's gentle enough to use on children and the elderly, and effective for treating chronic and acute infections involving the mucosa. This can be in the digestive tract, urinary tract, or respirtatory tract. It has found its place mainly as a treatment for urinary infections, gout, and prostate inflammation. 

Its actions are mainly specific to the urinary tract, but will subsequently affect inflammatory conditions, rheumatism, and gout. It's also indicated for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). 

Although not the most potent herb out there, it's highly abundant all over the world, and is considered a weed in most places. It's resistand to most herbicides including glycophosphate (Roundup), and has even been found growing up through concrete. This tough herb is a great addition to any medicinal garden, and is easily sourced in the wild. These qualities make couchgrass an important one to remember and consider for use over some of the less sustainable, and environmentally friendly herbs. 


Botanical Name

Elytrigia repens
Elymus repens

Formerly: Agropyron repens

Family

Gramiaceae
Poaceae

Part Used

Rhizome

Herbal Actions:

  • Antimicrobial
  • Demulcent
  • Diuretic
  • Urinary demulcent

Specific Actions:

  • Osmotic diuretic
couchgrass-eltrygia-repens.jpg

Dosage

Liquid Extract (1:1)

3-6 ml/day

Tincture (1:5)

6-20 ml/day

Dried Rhizome

6-9 g/day (Higher for BPH)

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Indications:

[1, 3, 4, 6]

  • Inflammation and infection of urinary tract
  • Kidney and bladder inflammation and calculi
  • Prostatitis and BHP
  • Gout
  • Rheumatism
  • Jaundice
  • Cystitis with irritation or inflammation of the urinary tract (BHP)

Common Names:

  • Couchgrass
  • Triticum
  • Triticum repens
  • Agropyron
  • Twitchgrass
  • Rhizoma tritici
  • Dogs grass
  • Radix graminis

Traditional Uses:

The British herbal pharmacopoeia lists Elytrigia repens (refers to Agropyron repens) as a diuretic for cystitis, urethritis, and prostatitis as well as BPH [3]. 

 


    Botanical Description:

    Couchgrass is a perennial, frost resistant grass growing up to 1m. It will grow in both very acidic, and very alkaline soils. The pollen is distributed via wind. [5]. 


    Habitat Ecology, and Distribution:

    Elytrigia repens can be found abundantly growing in North America, Europe, Northern Asia, and Australia. [3]. 



    Harvesting Collection, and Preparation:

    The rhizome is collected generally in march and april in the northern half of the world [3]. 


    Constituents:

    Elytrigia contains carbohydrates (10%) (including triticin (3-8%) (a polysaccharide related to inulin), inositol,  mannitol, and mucilage (10%)), volatile oil (0.01-0.05%), agropyrene, flavonoids (tricin), cyanogenic glycosides, saponins, vanilloside (vanillin monoglucoside) (very small amounts), vanillin, and phenolcarboxylic acids (silicic acid; and silicates) [1, 2, 3, 8-10]. 


    Pharmacology and Medical Research:

    + Acute Kidney Injury

    Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a major complication following cardiovascular surgery (15-30% occurrance). Diuretics are a common treatment option for improving filtration rate of the kidneys. Couchgrass contains high concentrations of mannitol, a type of sugar shown to be a potent osmotic diuretic. [7].

    A recent study on uncomplicated postcardiac surgery patients with normal renal function, the application of mannitol was able to increase glomerular filtration rate [7]. Researchers in this study suggested that this action was due to a deswelling effect on tubular cells.

    + Gout

    Couchgrass is a popular traditional remedy for arthritis and gout [broken source]. In modern times it has fallen out of favor and lacks a significant amount of study over the past half century. Recently however, there has been some enlightening research on the saccharide known as mannitol, which is contained in couchgrass and released upon the hydrolysis of triticin. Mannitol is a sugar alcohol (contained in about 2-3% which has been shown shown significant increases in urine flow (61%) [7], which is considered a key treatment goal for gout.

    The diuretic actions of mannitol are suggested to be through a de-swelling effect on tubular cells. It is considered an osmotic diuretic. [7].

     

    Toxicity

    Their is a possibility of potassium depletion when used alongside potassium-depleting diuretics [5].  

     

    Synergy:

    The British herbal pharmacopoeia suggests Elytrigia is synergistic with Agathosma for cystitis, and hydrangeae in prostatic enlargement [3]. 



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    References:

    1. Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
    2. Wren, R. C. (1956). Potter's new cyclopaedia of botanical drugs and preparations.
    3. British Herbal Medicine Association. (1983). British Herbal Pharmacopoeia. Bournemouth, UK: Author.
    4. Bone, K. (2003). A clinical guide to blending liquid herbs: Herbal formulations for the individual patient. Edinburgh [u.a.: Churchill Livingstone.
    5. Plants for our future. (n.d.). Elytrigia repens Couch Grass PFAF Plant Database. Retrieved from http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Elytrigia+repens
    6. Blumenthal, M. (1998). German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices. Commission E. The complete German Commission E monographs: therapeutic guide to herbal medicines. Austin, Tex.: American Botanical Council, 11-12.
    7. Bragadottir, G., Redfors, B., & Ricksten, S. E. (2012). Mannitol increases renal blood flow and maintains filtration fraction and oxygenation in postoperative acute kidney injury: a prospective interventional study. Critical care, 16(4), R159.
    8. Bisset NG, ed. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals . 2nd ed. Stuttgart, Germany: Medpharm Scientific Publishers; 2001.
    9. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients . 2nd ed. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.; 1996.
    10. Newell CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines . London, England: Pharmaceutical Press; 1996.
     

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