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Couch Grass

Scientific Name(s): Elymus repens (L.) P. Beauv.
Common Name(s): Couch grass, Dog grass, Quack grass, Triticum, Twitch grass

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 24, 2022.

Clinical Overview


In general, clinical studies are lacking to support traditional uses of couch grass. Animal studies suggest potential benefit in diabetes and in the treatment of urinary tract conditions (urolithiasis and infection). However, due to the lack of clinical data, couch grass cannot be recommended for any indication.


Clinical studies are lacking to provide a basis for couch grass dosage recommendations.


Contraindications have not been identified.


Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

There are no known adverse effects associated with use of couch grass, although the potential for allergy exists.


No data.

Scientific Family

  • Poaceae (grass)


Couch grass is a perennial grass native to the Northern Hemisphere and widely distributed as a weed. The grass grows up to 1.5 m in height, with spikes up to 15 cm in length and 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 parts used are the rhizomes, roots, and stems.Bisset 2001, Khan 2010, USDA 2019 Synonyms are Agropyron repens (L.) Gould, Elytrigia repens (L.) Desv. Ex Nevski, Elytrigia vaillantiana, Graminis rhizoma, Triticum repens, and Triticum 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 product components, primarily the rhizome, are typically imported from Eastern Europe.Bisset 2001, Duke 2002, Khan 2010


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 may also be present in the rhizome. 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, and other minerals. Albumin content in couch grass and other wheat-related plants has been evaluated.Bisset 2001, Khan 2010, USDA 2016

Uses and Pharmacology

Anti-inflammatory activity

In vitro data

Rhizomes of A. repens demonstrated in vitro inhibitory activity against markers of inflammation in a screening study of 71 Austrian traditional herbal drugs.Vogl 2013


Animal data

In an experiment in healthy and diabetic rats, T. repens demonstrated a hypoglycemic effect independent of an effect on insulin.Eddouks 2005 In another animal study, an aqueous rhizome extract of T. repens decreased plasma triglycerides and cholesterol levels in rats with streptozotocin-induced diabetes. A decrease in body weight after 2 weeks was also reported.Maghrani 2004

Urinary tract infection

Animal and in vitro data

Extracts of E. repens demonstrated moderate to limited antioxidant activity in a laboratory study evaluating medicinal herbs traditionally used to treat urinary tract infection symptoms.Wojcikowski 2007 Antiadhesive activity was demonstrated against uropathogenic E. coli in another study.Rafsanjany 2013 A further in vitro study found A. repens extracts demonstrated no activity against uropathogenic E. coli organisms; however, antiadhesive activity against bacterial attachment to bladder cells was reported.Beydokthi 2017


Animal data

In one study reporting on the effects of couch grass on calcium oxalate urolithiasis risk in rats, antilithiasic effects were dependent on diet.Grases 1995 An older study reported a diuretic effect in rats.Khan 2010

Clinical data

A small open-label trial investigated the effect of A. repens in urolithiasis treatment. A potassium citrate and couch grass combination was more effective in reducing the number and size of urinary stones than potassium citrate alone.Brardi 2012

Wound healing

In vitro data

Dried A. repens has been evaluated as a hydrogel for use in wound dressings.Pielesz 2012


Clinical studies are lacking to provide a basis for couch grass dosage recommendations. Traditional doses of the rhizome were 6 to 10 g daily for suspected urinary tract infections.Blumenthal 2000, Duke 2002, EMA 2011

Pregnancy / Lactation

Avoid use. 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 2010

Adverse Reactions

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 data regarding toxicology are available.

Index Terms

  • Agropyron repens (L.) Gould
  • Elytrigia repens (L.) Desv. Ex Nevski
  • Elytrigiavaillantiana
  • Graminis rhizoma
  • Triticum repens
  • Triticum vaillantianum Wulfen & Schreb



This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

Beydokthi SS, Sendker J, Brandt S, Hensel A. Traditionally used medicinal plants against uncomplicated urinary tract infections: Hexadecyl coumaric acid ester from the rhizomes of Agropyron repens (L.) P. Beauv. with antiadhesive activity against uropathogenic E. coli. Fitoterapia. 2017;117:22-27.28040531
Bisset NG, ed. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. 2nd ed. Stuttgart, Germany: Medpharm Scientific Publishers; 2001.
Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.
Brardi S, Imperiali P, Cevenini G, Verdacchi T, Ponchietti R. Effects of the association of potassium citrate and Agropyrum repens in renal stone treatment: results of a prospective randomized comparison with potassium citrate. Arch Ital Urol Androl. 2012;84(2):61-67.22908773
Duke J, Bogenschutz-Godwin M, duCellier J, Duke P. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2002.
Eddouks M, Maghrani M, Michel JB. Hypoglycaemic effect of Triticum repens P. Beauv. in normal and diabetic rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005;102(2):228-232.16099613
Elymus repens L. USDA, NRCS. 2019. The PLANTS Database (, 24 September 2019). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA. Accessed September 24, 2019.
European Medicines Agency. Assessment report on Agropyron repens (L.) P. Beauv., rhizome. Published November 22, 2011. Accessed September 24, 2019.EMA.2011
Grases F, Ramis M, Costa-Bauzá A, March JG. Effect of Herniaria hirsuta and Agropyron repens on calcium oxalate urolithiasis risk in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 1995;45(3):211-214.7623486
Khan IA, Abourashed E. Leung's Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics. 3rd ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Inc; 2010.
Maghrani M, Lemhadri A, Zeggwagh NA, et al. Effects of an aqueous extract of Triticum repens on lipid metabolism in normal and recent-onset diabetic rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004;90(2-3):331-337.15013198
Pielesz A, Paluch J. Therapeutically active dressings—biomaterials in a study of collagen glycation [in Polish]. Polim Med. 2012;42(2):115-120.23016442
Rafsanjany N, Lechtenberg M, Petereit F, Hensel A. Antiadhesion as a functional concept for protection against uropathogenic Escherichia coli: in vitro studies with traditionally used plants with antiadhesive activity against uropathogenic Escherichia coli. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013;145(2):591-597.23211661
US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 1992-2016. Elytrigia repens (Poaceae): Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases. Accessed September 24, 2019.
Vogl S, Picker P, Mihaly-Bison J, et al. Ethnopharmacological in vitro studies on Austria's folk medicine--an unexplored lore in vitro anti-inflammatory activities of 71 Austrian traditional herbal drugs. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013;149(3):750-771.23770053
Wojcikowski K, Stevenson L, Leach D, Wohlmuth H, Gobe G. Antioxidant capacity of 55 medicinal herbs traditionally used to treat the urinary system: a comparison using a sequential three-solvent extraction process. J Altern Complement Med. 2007;13(1):103-109.17309384

Further information

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