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Couchgrass

Elymus repens

Family: Graminacae
Synonyms: Agropyron repens (L.) Beauv., Twitch
Description: “Hardy perennial with far reaching rhizomes, up to 3mm across. Dull, green leaves are palmately divided. Stiff, erect flower spikes, with spikelets arranged in zigzag formation’ are produced on long stalks in summer. H 30cm-im, S indefinite. Fully hardy.” (Bown, 1995: 122)
Habitat: Very common weed in all temperate countries, particularly found on wasteland, roadsides, field margins and in neglected gardens, (Mills, 1993);
Harvest: Rhizomes are lifted and washed in early spring or late autumn, (Mills, 1993).

Parts used: Rhizome;
Dosage: 1:5 Tincture: 5-10ml, tds; Fluid Extract: 4-6ml, tds; Dried: 4-10ml, tds;

Actions:
-DIURETIC,
-URINARY DEMULCENT,
-antiseptic;

Organ systems: URINARY;

Indications:
-Urinary tract disorders with pain or irritation; urinary infections;
-Calculi (kidney stones), (Mills, 1993);

Safety: Safe.
Contra-indications: Hayfever sensitivity (GT);

Key Constituents, (Wren, 1988):
-Carbohydrates: about 8% triticin, a fructosan polysaccharide, inositol, mannitol and mucilage;
-Volatile oil, up to 0.05%, mainly agropyrene;
-Misc.: vanillin glucoside, vits A and some B, minerals incl. silica and iron;

Pharmacology: Agropyrene is reported to have broad antibiotic properties; extracts of Couchgrass shown as diuretic in rats and sedative in mice, (Wren, 1988). Mannitol known as standard ‘osmotic diuretic’, ie. absorbed whole from gut and excreted largely by kidney tubules which must then retain extra water to maintain osmotic pressure; saponin and vanillin also probably diuretic. High silica content aids slow-healing wounds, strengthens lungs and other tissues and, with antibiotic substances, limits infections, (Mills, 1993).
Toxicology: No studies found.

History: Name from Greek elymos, ‘a cereal’. Has appeared in herbals since time of Dioscorides in 1 AD, (Bown, 1995).

Traditional and Practitioner sources:
“URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS AND CYSTITIS Couchgrass contains mannitol, a diuretic, and mucilage to soothe the mucous membranes; mildly antibiotic. Take an infusion or tincture -combine with buchu, bearberry or juniper for more potent antiseptic action.” Penelope Ody, (1993: 158)

“Can be beneficial in treating ‘benign prostatic hypertrophy’ [enlargement of prostate, esp. in over 50s],” Graeme Tobyn 12/12/00.

 

 
Bel Charlesworth Medical Herbalist

Bel Charlesworth MNIMH
Medical Herbalist

BSc Herbal Medicine

Member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists since 2003

Tel: 07775 920079

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