Drugs A - Z
Couch grass (Agropyron repens, Elymus repens)
Generic Name: Couch grass
CategoryHerbs & Supplements
Agropyron cristatum L., Agropyron desertorum, Agropyron elongatum, Agropyron intermedium, Agropyron mongolicum, Agropyron pectiniforme, Agropyron repens L. Beauv., Agropyron scabrifolium El Palmar INTA, Agropyron scabrifolium Seleccion Anguil, Agropyron smithii, Agropyron trachycaulum, Agropyron trichophorum, ayrik, chiendent, common couch, creeping quackgrass, crested wheatgrass, cutch, devil's grass, dog grass, durfa grass, echte quecke, Elymus repens, Elytrigia repens, grama, grama de las boticas, grama del norte, gramigna, gramigua, groesrod graminis rhizome, joula, kweek, najm, nejil, pied de poule, quackgrass, quick grass, quitch grass, Scotch quelch, Scotch grass, squaw wein, squaw wijn, triticum, Triticum repens L., twitch, twitchgrass, vigne squaw, wheat grass, witch grass.
Couch grass is stated to possess diuretic properties due to the presence of carbohydrates such as mannitol and inulin. It has been traditionally used for urinary tract infections and conditions relating to the kidneys, such as kidney stones. The essential oil has been used for its antimicrobial effects, while the extracts of couch grass have been used as a dietary component in patients with diabetes. There is no formal clinical data available, however, to support these claims. Literature on couch grass is primarily in journals on botany and genomics.
Couch grass is listed by the Council of Europe as a natural source of food flavoring. In the United States, it is listed as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe).
EvidenceDISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
TraditionWARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Anti-inflammatory, benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH, enlarged prostate), bladder inflammation, bronchitis, chronic skin disorders, colds, constipation, cough, cystitis, demulcent (locally soothing agent), diabetes, diuretic, emollient (softens skin), expectorant (induces coughing), fever, flavoring, gallbladder stones, gout (foot inflammation), increased sweating, irrigation therapy, kidney disorders, kidney stones, laxative, liver disorders, inflammation (oral), prostatitis (enlarged prostate), rheumatic pain, tonic, urethritis (painful urination), urinary disorders, urinary tract infection (UTI).
Adults (18 years and older):
There is no proven safe or effective dose for couch grass in adults. Traditionally, 4-8 grams of dried rhizome has been taken three times daily. As a liquid (1:1 in 25% alcohol) extract, 4-8 milliliters three times per day has been used. As a tincture (1:5 in 40% alcohol), 5-15 milliliters three times per day has been used.
Children (younger than 18 years):
There is no proven safe or effective dose for couch grass in children.
SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to any constituent of couch grass, or to other members of the Poaceae/Gramineae family. Inulin may trigger an allergic reaction in some individuals, which may manifest as throat swelling, nasal itching, coughing, or difficulty breathing.
Side Effects and Warnings
The safety and efficacy of couch grass has not been systematically studied for any indication in available reports. However, traditional use suggests that couch grass is generally well tolerated. Couch grass is accepted in the Indian and Colonial Addendum of the British Pharmacopoeia for use in the Australian, Eastern and North American Colonies, where it is much employed.
Excessive and prolonged use of couch grass should be avoided due to its reputed diuretic action, as this may result in hypokalemia (abnormally low potassium levels in the blood).
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Interactions with Drugs
Due to its mild diuretic property, couch grass may increase the risk for high blood pressure and abnormally low potassium levels in the blood. Caution is advised in patients taking other blood pressure medications due to possible additive effects.
Theoretically, couch grass may have an additive effect with other diuretic drugs.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Theoretically, couch grass may increase the risk for high blood pressure and abnormally low potassium levels in the blood due to its mild diuretic effects. Caution is advised in patients taking other blood pressure altering herbs or supplements due to possible additive effects.
Theoretically, couch grass may have an additive effect with other diuretic herbs and supplements.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature, and was peer-reviewed and edited by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): Tracee Rae Abrams, PharmD (University of Rhode Island); Chi Dam, PharmD (Northeastern University); Nicole Giese, MS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Tamara Milkin, PharmD (Northeastern University); Adrianne Rogers, MD (Harvard Medical School); Lisa Scully, PharmD (University of Rhode Island); Erica Rusie, PharmD (Nova Southeastern University); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Chris Tonelli, MA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD (Massachusetts General Hospital); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration).
BibliographyDISCLAIMER: Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Ben Arye E, Goldin E, Wengrower D, et al. Wheat grass juice in the treatment of active distal ulcerative colitis: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Scand.J Gastroenterol. 2002;37(4):444-449.
Mascolo N. Biological screening of Italian medicinal plants for anti-inflammatory activity. Phytother Res 1987;1:28-29.
Mueller RS, Bettenay SV, Tideman L. Aero-allergens in canine atopic dermatitis in southeastern Australia based on 1000 intradermal skin tests. Aust Vet.J 2000;78(6):392-399.
Newall CA, Anderson LA, Philpson JD. Herbal Medicine: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals. 1996.
Weston LA, et al. Isolation, characterization and activity of phytotoxic compounds from quackgrass (Agropyron repens (L.) Beauv). J Chem Ecol 1987;13:403-421.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.