Synonyms: Common Couch, Twitch Grass, Scotch Quelch, Quick Grass, Dog Grass, Quitch, Quack Grass
Scientific Name: Agropyron repens L.
Family: Poaceae (Grass Family)
Cool to moderate, moist regions of Europe, Scandinavia, Siberia, North Africa, North America; introduced into southern South America.
Abundant carbohydrates (triticin), mucilage, saponins, abundant mineral salts, particularly potassium salts, silicic acid and iron, vitamin A and B, organic acids.
You cultivate this?! This incredulous exclamation can be heard when visitors to WALA's medicinal herb garden see the pots of couch grass, a grass which is familiar to every garden owner as a troublesome weed which is almost impossible to eradicate. With its creeping rhizome, which forms numerous branches, it spreads so extensively and deeply through the soil that it appears to have taken over the ground for ever. From this sturdy rootstock grow the smooth bare stems, which can reach a height of up to 1 m, bearing narrow, flat, green or bluish green leaves. From June to August a flowering spikelet tops the stems. The plant can be found anywhere where it is left to spread unhindered: fields, roadsides, waste places and fallow land, unfortunately also often in gardens. .
The medicinally used part is the rootstock, which is dug out in early spring before the leaves begin to sprout. The use of Couch Grass as a medicinal plant goes back to antiquity. Dioscurides and Pliny reported that it had a healing effect on the urinary tract.
A tea made from the dried root has blood-cleansing action, that is it activates the metabolic activities and elimination processes. Couch Grass thus has diuretic action, helps to remove waste products from the body and to clear blemished skin. Tiredness and feelings of being run-down disappear. Because of its cleansing, eliminating properties it is used in bronchial disorders, metabolic complaints, rheumatism, gout, catarrh of the lower urinary tract and catarrh of the upper airways.
Its disinfecting and purifying action led to the traditional custom of burning Couch Grass as incense in order to prevent skin problems and epidemics and keep away disease-bringing demons.
The word couch is said to derive from the Anglo-Saxon cwice (quick, vivacious), a reference to the plant's indestructible vitality and rapid spreading.
The roots of the plant are said to eliminate a substance which inhibits the growth of other plants. This further helps it to spread on its conquered territories. Even if garden owners are not enamoured by its presence, in nature couch grass does have its positive side: it is host to more than eighty different species of insects.
The plant from another perspective
With its long stalks Couch Grass collects the power of the sun throughout the year and carries it into the earth, into the sturdy rootstock which aerates the heavy, sluggish soil and sets it in motion. In the same way, the Couch Grass root has the power to bring movement into stagnating processes in the human metabolism. When the sick body can no longer summon up sufficient up-building and defensive powers, sinking instead into a state of lethargy and stagnating passivity, Couch Grass with its powers of the sun provides stimulating impulses.