Benefits Of Couch Grass (Agropyron Repens) For Health

Benefits Of Couch Grass (Agropyron Repens) For Health

Couch Grass (Agropyron Repens)

Other Names: Agropyre, Agropyron, Agropyron repens, Agropyron firmum, Blé en Herbe, Brote del Trigo, Couchgrass, Cutch, Dog Grass, Dog-grass, Doggrass, Witchgrass, Durfa Grass, Elytrigia repens, Elymus repens, Graminis Rhizoma, Herbe de Blé, Quack Grass,...

Couch grass (botanical name Agropyron repens) belongs to the Hordae genera of the Poaceae or grass family. The genus name Agropyron is derived from the Greek terms ‘agros' meaning field and ‘puros' denoting wheat. The common name of the plant ‘couch' has been derived from the Anglo-Saxon term ‘civice' denoting vivacious. In effect, the couch grass comprises a vast and dissimilar group of plants, but majority of the people actually consider all types of grasses to be roughly similar. The farmers usually consider the couch grass to be a nuisance as it not only invades their agricultural fields, but also produces a chemical substance that slows down the development of other plants. Although, it is considered to be a bothersome weed in North America, in many regions of Europe and Asia, the couch grass hay is used as a fodder for livestock and its tubular root is sometimes consumed by people when there is an acute scarcity of food.

Benefits Of Couch Grass (Agropyron Repens) For Health
Couch Grass (Agropyron Repens) Picture

Couch grass is a robustly growing perennial plant that often grows to a height of 32 inches (80 cm). This species of grass has an elongated and crawling tubular root, while the leaves are thin. The plant bears green flowers that are lined up in two rows of straight barbs. The plant produces numerous flower-bearing hollow stems from its long, crawling and sharp rhizomes during July. The stem is condensed at the nodes and bears about five to seven slender leaves. At the terminals, the stems bear greenish crowded blooms that emerge in the apex of two rows of barbs. Couch grass flowers appear much akin to the blooms of breadless wheat and rye. Each flower comprised around eight or more oval-shaped spikelets (small parts of flower clusters) on either side of each barb. The flowers also comprise around four to eight florets (parts of larger flowers) and sometimes also have stiff bristles, which, compared to the flowers, are around half in length. The leaves of couch grass are usually horizontal having an elongated, forked covering that are coarse on the upper side and possess a chain of bristles on all main veins.

This belligerent plant species has elongated and thin tubular roots that have a whitish hue. The ends of these rhizomes are yellow colored and harshly piercing. The base of the leaves of couch grass have add-ons resembling claws and help the leaves to hold onto the stem. The spikelets grow up to 15 cm in length and are arranges in two extended rows appearing horizontally to the stems. Couch grass has the aptitude to rejuvenate from extremely petite split portions of the tubular roots and this makes it very difficult to check the plant's growth and spread mechanically.

Although it can become quite a nuisance to gardeners and home owners by damaging lawns and choking plants, it is also a natural alternative herbal medicine for some diseases. Some people have to act speedily to weed them out of a garden because it spreads very quickly. However, it is not wise to get rid of all because of its medicinal properties. It can also be dried and stored and used accordingly. The roots of couch grass have a sugary flavour to some extent resembling that of liquorice. The roots of the herb are dried and pounded to prepare bread and are consumed by humans in many regions when there is an acute paucity of food. Couch grass contains vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin E, calcium, iron, magnesium, agropyrene as well as amino acids.  It also contains chlorophyll and carbohydrates such as mannitol and inulin, Tricin as well Mucilage.

History of Couch Grass (Agropyron Repens)

Couch Grass is a perennial that may be found in fields and waste places of the Americas, northern Asia, Australia and Europe, and it is similar to (and sometimes mistaken for) Johnson Grass.  This extremely vigorous grass thrives in most loose soils, such as light sandy soil, in sun or shade and generally grows to a height of three feet with long, creeping roots, slender leaves and erect flower spikes that bear green flowers.  The roots and seeds of Couch Grass have occupied a very important place in herbal medicine since ancient times, but the plant is not a friend to the farmer, because once established, it becomes an almost uncontrollable, invasive weed.  The Grass family may perhaps be one of the most important plants to mankind, with its grains providing breads, cereals and food staples of all kinds, and the mucilaginous roots possessing distinctive medicinal virtues.  The English name, Couch Grass, is believed to be a derivation from the Anglo- Saxon word, civice, which means "vivacious," referring to the plant's tenacity of life, and one of its botanical genus names, Agropyron, is derived from a combination of Greek words meaning "wheat grasses" and "wheat fields."  Interestingly, one of the carbohydrates found in Couch Grass is termed triticin, which is derived from the Latin word, triticum, which means "wheat."  Since ancient times, the Romans utilized Couch Grass medicinally in the treatment of urinary problems and kidney stones.  The esteemed English herbalist, Nicholas Culpeper, also greatly praised Couch Grass as a treatment for diseases of the kidneys, and the herb was officially entered into the "Indian and Colonial Addendum" of the British Pharmacopœia.  In North America, the Cherokee and Iroquois tribes used the plant to expel gravel and worms, and it was also used historically for a sore back, painful urination, gravel, and discharge of mucus.

Benefits Of Couch Grass (Agropyron Repens) For Health

Rhizomes of couch grass possess several medicinal properties and are especially used to treat problems of the urinary tract, kidney, gallbladder and prostate glands. In addition, medications prepared with the slender tubular roots of the plant are also used to heal gout and rheumatism.

As the couch grass possesses mild, but effectual diuretic (increasing the flow of urine) and demulcent (mollifying or soothing) properties, it is extensively used to treat different types of urinary tract contagions, including cystitis and urethritis (inflammation of the urethra). Using couch grass in such conditions has a double impact - first, it guards the urinary tubules against several types of contagions and annoyances, and, second, it augments the flow of urine. 

Benefits Of Couch Grass (Agropyron Repens) For Health
Couch Grass (Agropyron Repens) Picture

In addition, couch grass may also be used in combination with other herbs for a variety of remedial processes - treating kidney stones, alleviating inflammation as well as cut wounds or laceration.

As a rich source of healing mucilage, Couch Grass soothes and relieves inflamed sore throats and alleviates the pain of bronchitis by providing mucilage to coat the inflamed surface.  It is said to be excellent in easing laryngitis, caused by accumulation of phlegm, by making the phlegm more slippery and easier to expectorate, but less effective if the laryngitis is caused by too much shouting or talking.

It is believed that couch grass is highly effective in dissolving kidney stones to a great extent and, in any case, does not allow further extension of the stones. Taking a decoction prepared with couch grass over a period of time has been found to be effective in healing expanded prostate glands as well as prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland). In earlier days, herbalists also recommended couch grass for treating gout and rheumatism. German herbal medicine practitioners externally apply a hot and wet pack of heated seeds of couch grass on the abdomen to alleviate peptic ulcers (an ulcer of the upper digestive tract, frequently in the stomach or duodenum). In addition, the juice extracted from the couch grass roots has been traditionally used to heal jaundice and additional disorders of the liver.

Couch grass is especially effective in alleviating the occurrence as well as the soreness of urination - an effectual medication for dysuria (difficult and painful urination) and strangury (a condition marked by slow, painful urination, caused by muscular spasms of the urethra and bladder). This herb may be given to patients when they are enduring any kind of urinary tract inflammation and even in condition wherein too much of pus, mucus or blood passed in the urine. In an indirect manner, couch grass works as a substitute by sweeping away disintegrated substances through the renal organs. The gelatinous substances present in couch grass helps the herb to soothe the mucus membranes and its mollifying properties aid in alleviating annoyance and soreness.

Couch Grass (Agropyron Repens) Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking wheatgrass if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Wheatgrass can cause nausea, appetite loss, and constipation.