Ancient & Current Uses of Knotgrass

What is knotgrass?

In the past, knotgrass has been known as pigweed, swine’s grass, nine-joints, allseed and bird’s tongue. The plant is a member of the Polygonaceae family and its botanical name is Polyganum aviculare. Knotgrass is generally regarded as a useless weed – it grows in roadsides, ditches, waste lands and meadows, as well as in cultivated soils, world-wide.

Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654), an English botanist, herbalist, physician and astrologer, lists the many uses of knotgrass in “Culpeper’s Complete Herbal & English Physician” book, and starts off by saying: “It is generally known so well that it needs no description.”

 

What is knotgrass used for?

In herbal medicine, knotgrass is used for its styptic (to arrest haemorrhages), diuretic (to promote the flow of urine), cholagogue (to promote bile flow) and astringent (to contract tissues) properties. It is a popular herbal remedy, often used in the treatment of urinary tract infections, and it is recognised as an effective blood cleanser, to rid the system of toxins. Its diuretic properties make it useful as an expellant of urinary stones and gravel, and as an astringent it is used for diarrhoea, dysentery, enteritis, haemorrhoids and all haemorrhages.

Knotgrass is also used to treat inflammations of the mucous membranes of the intestinal tract and to relieve flatulence and biliary insufficiency. Externally, the herb is beneficial as a gargle for sore throats and as a sitz bath or douche for vaginal inflammations.

The following is an old herbal recipe for chronic phlegm conditions in the respiratory tract and lungs:

  • 30g Knotgrass
  • 20g Yarrow
  • 10g Iceland moss
  • 10g Thyme

Place the above herbs in a bowl, mix well and store in a sealed glass jar away from sunlight. Infuse one teaspoonful of the mixture with one cup of boiling water, steep for 5-10 minutes and strain. Drink two cups daily.

In combination with other herbs, knotgrass may be used to treat other health issues, such as rheumatic conditions, gout and skin disorders. All in all, it’s a very handy herb to have in your cupboard – it was even used for its magical properties in the “polyjuice potion”, in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series!


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