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Couchgrass

Couchgrass

Botanical Description & Habitat

Agropyron repens

Family
Graminaceae

Common Names

CouchgrassCreeping twitch
Dog grassDurfa grass
Quack grassQuick grass
TriticumTwitch grass



Habitat
North Atlantic coast, Europe, North Africa, northern Asia, Australia, and North and South America; found in meadows, fields, waste places, and along roadsides and seashores.

Description
The plant stems grow from 2-3 feet in height, and are round and hollow, with thick joints. The stems and leaf sheaths are smooth and glabrous. The green leaves are usually from 6-10 millimeters wide, thin and sparsely-haired. Yellow-to-purple flowers bloom in terminal, 2-row spikes from June to August.

Medicinal Parts
Rhizome, deprived of roots - cut into short lengths, then dried; collected in March and April.

Historical Properties & Uses

Couchgrass is an effective diuretic, often employed in the treatment of cystitis, urethritis, and other urinary tract infections, as well as bladder, liver, kidney, and gastrointestinal ailments.

Couchgrass contains mucilage, and is commonly used as an emollient and demulcent to attenuate swelling, inflammation, pain, and infection of skin sores, wounds, bites, and rashes.

Couchgrass is one of the few herbs which can be ingested as a tonic in frequent large doses, with no apparent adverse effects. Research has demonstrated the herb's sedative action; while it is also used as an antiseptic and anti-irritant, no research has been done to verify those uses.

This herb has approval status by the German Commission E for urinary tract disorders.

References:

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Method of Action

Couchgrass is diuretic
Diuresis is due to the presence of glycolic acid. Both water and alcohol extracts have been found to have good diuretic activity.

Couchgrass is sedative
An infusion of couchgrass produced a marked sedative action in the mouse that was not felt to be caused by action on the central nercous system.

Couchgrass has antibiotic properties
Antibiotic tests have been contradictory. Positive and negative results have been obtained against the same organisms. However, agropyrene has been reported to have extensive antibiotic properties.

Drug Interactions & Precautions

Known Interactions
Since couchgrass's diuretic action increases the renal excretion of sodium and chloride, this herb may potentiate the hyperglycemic and hyperuricemic effects of glucose-elevating agents.

Diuretics in general may potentiate the action of antihypertensive, ganglionic or peripheral adrenergic blocking drugs, tubocurarine and, to a lesser degree, norepinephrine.

Possible Interactions
When taken in conjunction with corticotropin (ACTH) or corticosteroids, this diuretic herb is more prone to produce hypokalemia. It should be noted the use of diuretics may require dosage adjustments of antidiabetic drugs. Furthermore, the diuretic action of this herb may reduce renal clearance of lithium.

Comments
Because it is high in iron, couchgrass may interfere with the absorption of tetracyclines. This is especially true if large quantities are ingested within two hours of taking tetracyclines. Furthermore, animal studies indicate that iron plus allopurinol may lead to increased hepatic iron concentration.

Prolonged use of this diuretic herb may affect certain laboratory test results such as electrolytes, especially potassium and sodium, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), uric acid, glucose, and protein bound iodine (PBI).

Safety Factors & Toxicity

Couchgrass possesses no known toxicity.

This herb has approval status by the German Commission E.

References:

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Preparation & Administration

Three times a day

Dried tuber
4-8 grams

Tea
made from 1-2 tsp dried tuber

Fluid extract
1:1 in 25% alcohol, 4-8 ml

Tincture
1:5 in 45% alcohol, 5-15 ml

This herb has approval status by the German Commission E.

Recommended daily dosages in Germany are as follows:

6 - 9 g of the herb.

References:

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Note: This Herbal Preparation information is a summary of data from books and articles by various authors. It is not intended to replace the advice or attention of health care professionals.

References

Am Hospital Formulary Service. Am Soc of Hosp Pharm. Wash, D.C.

Balansard, J., et. al. Med Trop., 4, 621, 1951.

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Bressler, R., M.D. Bogdonoff & G.J. Subak-Sharpe. 1981. The Physicians Drug Manual. Doubleday & Co, Inc. Garden City, NY. 1213 pp.

Chambers, G., R.J. Kerry & G. Owen. 1977. Lithium used with a diuretic. British Medical Journal. 2. pp. 805-806.

Chiles, V.K. 1968. Drug interactions and the pharmacist. Canadian Pharmaceutical Journal, 101(7). pp. 241-247.

De Martinis, M., et.al. 1980. Milk thistle (silybum marianum) derivatives in the therapy of chronic hepatopathies. Clin. Ter., 94(3). pp. 283-315.

Drug package insert (FDA approved official brochure) and other labeling based on sponsored clinical investigations and New Drug Application data.

Facts & Comparisons. The Lawrence Review of Natural products. Feb, 1996.

Frisbey, A., et. al. Quarterly Bulletin Of The Michigan Agriculture Experimental Station, 36, 477, 1954.

Grace, N.D., et.al. 1970. Effect of allopurinla on iron mobilization. Gastroenterology, 59(1). pp. 103-108.

Goldner, M.G., H. Zarowitz & S. Akgun. 1960. Hyperglycemia and glycosuria due to thiazide derivatives administered in diabetes mellitus. New England Journal of Medicine, 262(Feb 2). pp. 403-405.

Goodman, L.S. & A. Gilman. 1975. Pharm Basis of Thera. Macmillan, NY.

Greenberger, N.J. Absorbtion of tetracyclines: interference by iron. (Editorial notes). Ann of Intrnl Med, 74(5). pp. 792-793.

Hansten, P.D. 1968. Antidiabetic drug interactions. Hospital Form. Management, 4(2). pp. 30-32.

Hansten, P.D. 1979. Drug Interactions, 4th ed. Lea & Febiger, Phila.

Hurtig, H.I. & W.L. Dyson. 1974. Lithium toxicity enhanced by diuresis. New England J of Med, 290(Mar 28). pp. 748-749.

Hyde, F.F. British Herbal Pharmacopoeia. British Herbal Medicine Assoc: West Yorks, England, 1983

Kastrup, E.K., ed. 1981. Drug Facts and Comparisons, 1982 edition. Facts and Comparisions Division, J.P. Lippincott Co, Phila(St. Louis).

Kiesewetter, R. & Mueller, M. Pharmazie, 13, 777-779, 1958.

List, P. & L. Hoerhammer. 1969-1976. Hagers Hanbuch der Pharmazeutischen Praxis, vols. 2-5. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

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Martin, E. Drug Interactions Index, 1978/79. J.B. Lippincott Co., Phila.

Miller, R.D., et.al. 1976. Enhancement of d-tubocurarine neuromuscular blockage by diuretics in man. Anesth, 45. p.442.

Miller, & Lindeman. Red Blood Cell and Serum Selenium Concentration as Influenced by Age and Selected Diseases. J Of Am College Nutri, 2 (1983).

Mowrey, Daniel B., Ph.D. Exper. Psych., Brigham Young University. Director of Nebo Institute of Herbal Sciences. Director of Behavior Change Agent Training Institute. Director of Research, Nova Corp.

Neuvonen, P.J., et.al. 1970. Interference of iron with the absorbtion of tetracyclines in man. British Medical J, 4. p. 532.

Racz-kotilla, E. & Mozes, E. Rev. Med. (Tirgu-mures), 17, 82, 1971. Through Chem Abstracts 75, 128341C, 1971.

Scientific Committee, British Herbal Pharmocopaeia, British Herbal Med Assoc, Lane House, Cowling, Na Keighley, West Yorks, Bd Bd220lx, l983.

Thorn, G.W. 1966. Clin considerations in the use of orticosteroids. New England J of Medicine, 274(Apr 7). pp. 775-781.

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Winter, A.G., et. al. Naturwissenschaften, 39, 45, 190, 236, 1952.