Knotweed (Polygonum aviculare) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects

Knotweed (Polygonum aviculare) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects

Knotweed (Polygonum aviculare) Overview

Knotweed (Polygonum aviculare) other names: Allseed Nine-Joints, Anjubar, Armstrong, Aviculaire, Beggarweed, Bian Xu, Bird's Tongue, Birdweed, Centinode, Centinodia, Cow Grass, Crawlgrass, Doorweed, Herbe aux Cent Nœuds, Herbe à Cochon, Herbe aux Panaris, Herbe des Saints-Innocents, Hogweed, Knot Grass, Knotweed Herb, Lengua de Pajaro, Lis Glané, Mexican Sanguinaria, Ninety-Knot, Pigrush, Pigweed, Polygoni Avicularis Herba, Polygonum aviculare, Red Robin, Renouée des Oiseaux, Sanguinaria, Sparrow Tongue, Swine Grass, Swynel Grass, Tire-Goret, Trainasse, Vogelknoeterichkraut, Yerba Nudosa.

Knotweed (Polygonum aviculare) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Knotweed (Polygonum aviculare) flower

Knotweed is an annually growing herb that generally grows in a horizontal position and, hence, is also often referred to as prostrate knotweed. Knotweed is found growing in the wild in all places across the world having temperate climatic conditions.

The herb gives out stems that are unkempt and growing up to 6 inches to 12 inches in length forming a thick mat. This plant produces leaves whose shape varies from being elliptical to oval and growing up to one fourth of an inch to half an inch in length. The leaves of knotweed appear alternately from joint, also called "knot", on the stem. The plant produces minute clusters of flowers between the period of June and November. The flowers appear on the leaf axils and their color varies from light green or pink to lilac.

The whole flowering plant is used to make medicine. Knotweed has a very intricate root system and is able to dig into the most compressed soils. 

Knotweed is capable of claiming resources as well as overrun damaged areas prior to the growth of any other attractive grass, as this herb has early germination schedule. Since the herb knotweed is generally related to soil compaction, it can be seen growing on sidewalk edges, gravel roadbeds, paths, cervices as well as different areas where there is high-traffic, for instance in front of the goal posts of soccer fields. 

The seed is part of an achene or simple fruit that is three-sided, dark brown, not shiny, and about 1/8 inch long. This herb propagates through its seeds .The germination process of this plant is generally free and effortless. In fact, knotweed is a very common weed that has a propensity to invade cultivated ground.

Knotweed is used for bronchitis, cough, gum disease (gingivitis), and sore mouth and throat. It is also used for lung diseases, skin disorders, and fluid retention. Some people use it to reduce sweating associated with tuberculosis and to stop bleeding.

In effect, this herb is also a food for humans and a fodder for animals. While birds are happy to feed on the seeds of knotweed, pigs as well as cattle too like this herb, hence, it is often referred to as the pigweed and cowgrass. When there is scarcity of food, even humans turn to this weed, belonging to the buckwheat family, for sustenance. They pulverize the seeds of knotweed to prepare a meal.

Knotweed (Polygonum aviculare) Health Benefits

Developing research suggests that a root extract of knotweed might be useful as a mouth rinse to treat gingivitis. Gingivitis is caused by plaque, a film of saliva and bacteria that builds up on teeth at the gum line. The knotweed extract seems to decrease bleeding and swelling of the gums, possibly because it might interfere with the formation of plaque.

Knotweed is an herb that possesses astringent and diuretic attributes and in European herbal medicine, it is used for treating diarrhea, hemorrhoids , bronchitis,cough, skin diseases , decreasing sweating associated with tuberculosis, to stop bleeding from stomach wounds, to expel worms from the body, to lessen the profuse menstrual flow as well as to stop nosebleeds.

Knotweed (Polygonum aviculare) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Knotweed (Polygonum aviculare) image

In addition, this herb is also prescribed for complaints of the pulmonary system, as the silicic acid enclosed by it facilitates to reinforce the connective tissue inside the lungs. In Chinese traditional medicine, knotweed is prescribed to people suffering from intestinal worms, for treating dysentery and diarrhea. It is also used as a diuretic, especially in cases where urination is tender.

The diuretic properties of knotweed facilitate in removing kidney stones. In recent times, a medical formulation based on alcohol has been successfully used to cure varicose veins. Generally, knotweed is harvested during summer or in the early part of autumn and is dried and stored for use as and when required.

The plant as a whole is antiphlogistic (a substance that acts against fever and/ or inflammations), anthelmintic and diuretic. The juice extracted from the knotweed plant is faintly diuretic, expectorant as well as vasoconstrictor (a medication or nerve that causes constriction of the blood vessels). In addition, the seeds of knotweed are known as emetic (any substance that causes vomiting) and purgative.

The knotweed plant produces a blue dye, which, in any case, is inferior to indigo. While it is yet to be ascertained which part of the plant yields the blue dye, in all probability it is the leaves of the herb. On the other hand, green and yellow dyes can be extracted from the whole plant. The roots of knotweed enclose tannins. However, the quality of tannins obtained from the plant has not been specified.

Knotweed (Polygonum aviculare) Side effects

Knotweed (Polygonum aviculare) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Knotweed (Polygonum aviculare) tree

Knotweed may be safe for most people, but the possible side effects of knotweed are not known