Scientific Name(s): Elymus repens (L.) P. Beauv.
Common Name(s): Couchgrass, Dog grass, Quack grass, Triticum, Twitchgrass
Couch grass (A. repens) is a weed that is widely distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere. The grass grows up to 1.5 m tall with spikes up to 15 cm long containing many flowered spikelets. The leaves alternate with sheaths, the blades are long and narrow, and the veins are parallel. The grass also possesses shiny, pale yellow, hollow rhizomes and longitudinally grooved stems that are 2 to 3 mm thick. Thin roots and short fiber-like cataphylls are present at the unthickened nodes. Couch grass has an almost bland but slightly sweet taste. The rhizomes, roots, and stems are used to formulate the product.Bisset 2001, Khan 2009, USDA 2014 Synonyms are Agropyron repens (L.) Gould, Elytrigia repens (L.) Desv. Ex Nevski, E. vaillantiana, Graminis rhizoma, Triticum repens, and T. vaillantianum Wulfen & Schreb.
In folk medicine, couch grass has been used as a diuretic in cases of bladder catarrh and bladder/kidney stones, and as a cough medicine to alleviate bronchial irritation. It has been used to treat gout, rheumatic disorders, and chronic skin disorders. The drug products, primarily the rhizome, are typically imported from Eastern EuropeBisset 2001, Duke 2002, Khan 2009
The major constituent of couch grass is triticin (3% to 8%), a polysaccharide related to inulin. Also present are mucilaginous substances (10%); saponins; sugar alcohols (mannitol and inositol, 2% to 3%); essential oil with polyacetylenes or carvone (0.01% to 0.05%); small amounts of vanilloside (vanillin monoglucoside), vanillin, and phenolcarboxylic acids; silicic acid; silicates; and iron. Lectins found in the seedlings and leaves also may be present in the rhizome. However, the lectin content of the leaves varies from season to season. Other constituents found in couch grass include agropyrene (volatile oil constituent, 95%), mucilage, thymol, menthol, iron, and other minerals. Albumin content in couch grass and other wheat-related plants has been evaluated.Bisset 2001, Duke 1996, Khan 2009
Uses and Pharmacology
An experiment in healthy and diabetic rats determined that T. repens had a hypoglycemic effect independent of an effect on insulin.Eddouks 2005
There are no clinical data regarding the use of couch grass in diabetes.
One study reports the effects of couch grass on calcium oxalate urolithiasis risk in rats, finding antilithiasic effects to be dependent on diet.Grases 1995 An older study reports a diuretic effect in rats.Khan 2009
A small open-label trial investigated the effect of A. repens in urolithiasis treatment. A potassium citrate and couch grass combination was more effective than potassium citrate alone.Brardi 2012
Urinary tract infection
Moderate to limited antioxidant activity was demonstrated in extracts of E. repens in a laboratory study of medicinal herbs traditionally used to treat urinary tract infection symptomsWojcikowski 2007; antiadhesive activity was demonstrated against uropathogenic E. coli in another study.Rafsanjany 2013
There are no clinical data regarding the use of couch grass in urinary tract infections.
Dried A. repens has been evaluated as a hydrogel for use in wound dressings.Pielesz 2012
No recent clinical studies of couch grass provide a basis for dosage recommendations. Traditional doses of the rhizome were 6 to 10 g daily for suspected urinary tract infections.Duke 2002, Blumenthal 2000
Pregnancy / Lactation
Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.
None well documented. Interference with laboratory tests is theoretically possible because couch grass leaf lectin exhibits specificity for N-acetylgalactosamine and preferentially agglutinates blood group A erythrocytes.Khan 2009
There are no known adverse effects associated with the use of couch grass. As a member of the grass family, the potential for allergy exists.
No toxicological data is available.
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