|Goosegrass (whole plant) known as Paragis in the Philippines|
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Goosegrass (also called wire grass or yard grass) is an obnoxious weed with scientific name Eleusine indica (Linn.) Gaertner. In the Philippines, it is commonly known as paragis, apidan, bikad-bikad, bakis-bakisan, bugtusan, barangan, gagabutan, dinapulak, kabit-kabit, palagtiki, parangis-sabungan, sambali, and sabung-sabungan (this is due to the many dialects). This plant, classified as a grass, is a trending topic after a person posted on social media that after drinking the goosegrass "tea", her ailment miraculously was cured. Everyone is looking for a miracle; she is lucky to have found hers.
Eleusine indica is a weed found in many places and can withstand temperatures as low as -7°C. It is native to tropical Asia, Papuasia, and Africa while it is naturalized in Australia, the Mediterranean, the Americas particularly South America and various islands. It was first described and named by Carl Linnaeus in his book Species Plantarum (1753) but was reclassified into today's valid botanical systematics by Joseph Gaertner, a German Botanist, in 1788, hence its scientific name. Eleusine sp. was named after the ancient city and deme (town, division, community) Eleusis of Africa, famous for the mysteries of Ceres. Eleusis is said to have been the place where Demeter (Ceres for Romans), the Greek Goddess of Earth's Fruits, sown the first seeds of corn. Demeter was the first daughter of Cronus and Rhea, sister of Zeus, and mother of Persephone ( sired by Zeus).
There are many herbal medicines or supplements that are readily available and are being commercially distributed. There's mangosteen, turmeric, gingko biloba, ginger, lagundi, guava, grapes, and the list goes on. There's so many to choose from to use as a supplement for our diet or help in curing us of the common cold. People are decidedly health conscious and in that respect, are finding out more ways to live longer and healthier lives. With health and lifestyle being a usual trend, more unusual herbal remedies are coming out. It's either someone out there is trying to market a certain product to an unsuspecting public or cause a genuine awareness. This is the case of this unusual trend of using goosegrass as a herbal remedy. Because of its recent popularity, dubbing it as "God's gift to man", research and studies are currently being done to learn more about the supposed health benefits from this plant.
This weed has taken the Philippines by storm and now is the trending herbal remedy/supplement among the masses for it is readily available(you can find it in your backyard). I was actually surprised to hear about the latest trend regarding herbal plants and have heard that people are actually taking it. I do hope these people who have taken this plant did some research to know if it is actually safe to consume. Please take note that the use of goosegrass as a herbal remedy (halamang-gamot) has not been approved by the Department of Health. So I do recommend people to take with caution. What doesn't harm a goat, doesn't mean it can't harm a human. Well, don't worry...I took the liberty to research and learn about goosegrass looking into all possible literature regarding this plant. Studies on goosegrass are currently in the early phase but, I have found that it is extensively being studied in Africa and by researchers in Asia according to researchgate.net. Unfortunately, the studies being conducted are still ongoing and tentative results are still inconclusive but, there is positive feedback regarding the health benefits that can be derived from this plant which makes future studies on this grass potentially significant health-wise.
Read: Sabah Snake Grass (Clinacanthus nutans) Health Benefits and Medicinal Uses
In India and Africa (also for Arab people) the finger millet (E. coracana) is cultivated as a cereal grain, used as flour for bread and even made into soup during times of drought, scarcity, and famine. In these 2 places, there is evidence of the use of goosegrass as a pharmacopoeial plant. In Ayurveda, goosegrass is known as madhulika and even made into wine (ragi sura) and is used for excessive thirst, sprains, renal calculi, liver disorders, dislocations, dyspnea, cough, hemoptysis, malaria, diarrhea, and convulsions and metabolic distress during a high fever. Aside from these, Ayurveda has also cited additional related medicinal properties of goosegrass: it is used as a diaphoretic (stimulates sweating), diuretic, antipyretic, and antihelmintic. In Africa, many tribes use E. indica for amnionitis or to promote the discharge of afterbirth. It is also used in ceremonies against undesirable fates and spells.
Notable literature regarding Eleusine indica state that goosegrass is used as a sudorific, febrifuge and also used in liver complaints (cited 1986). Fresh root is fed to treat gonorrhea by tribal people (cited 2014). Leaves are used as diuretic after boiling in Philippines (cited 2014). The plant is long prescribed to relieve dysuria, fever, inflammation, jaundice, centipede and scorpion poisoning by being soaked in alcohol in Thailand (cited 2000). Whole plant decoction is used in anti-inflammatory agent in Nigeria (cited 2007). Decoction used orally for traumatic injury, rheumatism, infantile indigestion in China (cited 2015).
|Botanical line drawing of E.indica|
Image credit: The Tired Mama-ph
10 Potential Health Benefits from Goosegrass (Recommended dose according to The Institute of Ayurveda is 5-10g)
I would like to stress that the health benefits that I will list here are potential health benefits as goosegrass is not yet recognized by the Department of Health (Philippines). Further studies and research should be conducted. Before taking, I strongly advise consulting a health professional first.
1. Antimalarial and anti-diabetic
According to a study cited in the International Journal of Drug Development and Research, the ethanol extract of Eleusine indica showed positive antiplasmodial and antidiabetic properties when administered to rodents. It indicated substantial schizonticidal activities in rodents in the early phase of malaria. In the same study, the authors found that E. indica extract also caused a drop in blood glucose levels in alloxan-induced rodents showing promise as an antidiabetic.
According to the Philippine Traditional Knowledge and Ethnopharmacology Library, oral consumption of the decoction of boiled roots of the goosegrass cures dysentery due to its antimicrobial properties.
A study on the Use of Eleusine indica as an antipyretic medicine of herbivores produced positive results as an antipyretic. This is attributed to its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Leaves of the plant were used directly as medicine 3-4 times a day on livestock. The study went on saying that this type of cure is eco-friendly, part of organic farming, and sustainable, since goosegrass is easily obtainable and is found in widespread areas.
As I had stated earlier, in Ayurveda, goosegrass is used for its antipyretic properties.
4. Fertility and as an Oxytocic Drug
In this research, Phytotherapy and Women's Reproductive Health: The Cameroonian Perspective, the leaves of Eleusine indica is a known treatment for tubal blockage of the fallopian tubes among tribal women. Tubal blockage accounts for 40% of infertility cases and is one of the major causes of infertility worldwide. Moreover, the flowering plant of E. indica is also used in amnionitis and promotes discharge of afterbirth- proof of its ability to aid in childbirth as an oxytocic drug. Infusion of E. indica applied externally eases vaginal bleeding.
5. Anthelmintic and Anti-microbial
|Eleusine indica flower.|
Image copyright: The Tired Mama
Also stated in the Therapeutic Use of Medicinal Plants and the Extracts (vol.1), a poultice of the leaves of the goosegrass applied locally for a sprain, dislocation of bones, lower back pain and arthritis. Also, it aids in wound healing.
7. Diuretic and diaphoretic
For urine retention and kidney and bladder problems, an infusion of macerated leaves and water is orally ingested. It is a potent diuretic, may aid in lowering blood pressure and causes sweating to expel toxins through the skin.
As viruses are becoming resistant to prescribed antiviral drugs, experiments and studies are ongoing to see the antiviral potential of extracts from plants. One of them is E. indica. Cited in the published work Phytochemistry, Cytotoxicity and Antiviral Activity of E. indica (sambau), the authors have concluded that crude extract and hexane fraction prepared from E. indica contains antiviral active compounds and could be a potential antiviral.
Currently being studied is the cytotoxic effects of goosegrass against cancer cells. One notable study showed for the first time that indeed E. indica is cytotoxic to cancer cells (human lung and cervical cancer) and that it is mediated through apoptosis (programmed cell death that cancer cells seem to evade).
10. Cleanses the lymphatic system, antioxidant and stops dandruff and hair fall.
According to some articles I've read on the Internet, goosegrass is apparently known for its ability to clean the lymphatic system and aids in curing glandular disorders. A study on carbon tetrachloride-induced hepatic injury in rats showed that the hepatoprotective effects of goosegrass might be attributed to its antioxidant and free radical scavenging property.
Also, a formulation of minced goosegrass leaves and stems mixed in coconut oil (applied on head) stops dandruff and hair fall and promotes hair growth. Do remember to wash your hair before going to bed.
E. indica is rich in Vitamin C, a known antioxidant.
Of course with the good comes the bad. Eleusine indica contains cyanogenic or hydrogen cyanide that if taken in large amounts by livestock, can be poisonous and has been reported to cause deaths among calves and sheep. Goosegrass has high amounts of nitrates and may cause nitrate toxicity in animals. Also during cold temperature, there is a certain fungus that infects goosegrass. When the fungi-infected goosegrass is eaten by pregnant cattle results in abortion. Published in the Database of Toxic Plants in the US, Triglochin spp. and Eleusine indica can be found under the common name of goosegrass. Triglochin spp. when ingested may cause ataxia and death due to cyanogenic glycosides. As for E. indica may cause gastric distress due to high alkaloid content.
It was presented in the study Antiplasmodial and antidiabetic activities of Eleusine indica that extracts given that was more than 1-5g/kg produced toxicity and consequent death among test rodents.
Goosegrass contains coumarin which is a blood thinner. For those who are taking blood thinners, please consult your physician before taking.
Image copyright: The Tired Mama
How to use Goosegrass as an herbal remedy:
• For diabetes, malaria, worms, kidney/bladder problems(UTI, renal calculi), cough, fever, post-partum, infertility in women, asthma, jaundice, cysts, myoma, and epilepsy (I was only able to find 3 articles regarding neurological disorders and the African tribes describe the disorder as madness. It was not very clear so, I did not include the research in my post.).
- boil washed leaves and stem (20g) in 1L of water for 10 minutes. Strain decoction into a container. Drink decoction as tea 3 times a day. For worms, 2 tablespoons of fresh leave juice (more potent) every hour but consumption of decoction is fine.
• For dysentery/diarrhea
- according to Philippine Ethnopharmacology literature, roots are used to make a decoction. Boil washed roots (20g) in 1L of water for 5 minutes or simply soak washed roots in boiled water for infusion(for at least 30 minutes). Strain decoction or infusion into a container. Drink as tea 4 times a day.
• For sprains, wounds, body pain, arthritis, dislocation of bones, dandruff and falling hair.
-heat pounded leaves. Apply as a poultice on affected areas. Change poultice every 4 hours. For dandruff and falling hair, mix minced leaves and stem in coconut oil and leave for 15 minutes. Apply the oil to scalp and let it stay for 30 minutes. Wash hair.
• For weight loss
-In China, goosegrass is used as a weight reducing vegetable. Use young plant and limit to 5-10g. Old foliage is tough to eat. May eat leaves and stem. Make sure to wash properly before ingestion.
For the phytoremediation of land, research has found that land that has been poisoned or contains toxic substances and was planted with Eleusine indica, the soil became able to sustain vegetation again.
This post's aim is to promote awareness of the potential health benefits of goosegrass (Eleusine indica) as a herbal remedy. Goosegrass, if recognized by the Department of Health, would be a great addition to the numerous medicinal plants because it is easily obtainable. Definitely, God's gift to mankind. Again, please consult a health professional before taking. Stay healthy and happy.
Goosegrass tea by Noemi Sarino via
Trending News Portal
Credit to sources:
Iqbal, Mohammad et.al " Eleusine indica L. Possesses Antioxidant Activity and Precludes Carbon Tetrachloride (CCl4)- mediated Oxidative Hepatic Damage in Rats", Environ Health Prev Med 2012 July, 17: pp.307-315 (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
Okokon, J.E. et.al "Antiplasmodial and Antidiabetic Activities of Eleusine indica", International Journal of Drug Development and Research 2010 February 27 (www.ijddr.in)
Ibrahim, Rashidah et.al "Phytochemistry, Cytoyoxicity, and Antiviral Activity of Eleusine indica (sambau)", AIP Conference Proceedings 2015 September (aip.scitation.org)
Hansakul, P. et.al " Apoptopic Indication Activity of Dactyloctenium aegyptium (L.) P.B. and Eleusine indica (L.) Gaerth. Extracts on Human Lung and Cervical Cancer Cell Lines", Songklanakarin J. Sci. Technol. 31(3) 2009, May-June: pp. 273-279
Morah, F. et.al "Antimicrobial and Anthelmintic Activity of Eleusine indica", Acta Scientiae et Intellectus 2015 November (www.research gate.net)
Njamen, D. et.al "Phytotherapy and Women's Reproductive Health: The Cameroonian Perspective", Plants Medica 2013 March (www.research gate.net)
Alamgir, A.N.M.; Therapeutic Use of Medicinal Plants and the Extracts Vol. 1 Pharmacognosy (https://books.google.com.ph)
Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeial Plant and Expanded Therapeutic Drugs (https://books.google.com.ph)
Quattrocchio, Umberto; CRC World Dictionary of Medicinal and Poisonous Grass (https://book.google.com.ph)
Philippine Traditional Knowledge Ethnopharmacology Digital Library of Health
Database of Toxic Plants in the US (www.webpages.uidaho.edu)
Prelude Medicinal Plants Database (www.africamusuem.be)
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