Couch grass (Agropyron repens, Elymus repens)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
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).
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.
No available studies qualify for inclusion in the evidence table.
*Key to grades:A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. 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 health care professional.
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).
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
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.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
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).
Caution is advised in patients who have edema (swelling) caused by heart or kidney disease. Based on tradition, couch grass should be taken with plenty of fluids to flush out the urinary tract.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Couch grass is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to lack of available scientific evidence.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
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 edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
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. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
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.
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
March 22, 2017