"The rhizome of Agropyrum repens (Linné), Beauvois, gathered in the spring and deprived of the roots"—(U. S. P.) (Triticum repens, Linné).
COMMON NAMES: Couch-grass, Quick-grass, Quitch, Quitch-grass, Quickens, Dog-grass.
Botanical Source and History.—This perennial plant has a jointed, long, whitish rhizome, each joint giving off a tuft of fibrous radicles. The flowering spikes surmount the culm, which grows from 2 to 4 feet high. The spikes are from 4 to 8-flowered, and are 3 to 4 inches long. The florets are pointed or obtuse, variable, and generally awnless. It has flat, rough leaves. The plant grows on cultivated grounds and along roadsides, usually in rich soils, and has become a nuisance in some situations. It is a native of Europe, but has become naturalized in this country.
Description and Chemical Composition.—"Very long and creeping; about 2 Mm. (½ inch) thick; as met with in the shops, cut into sections about 1 Cm. (⅖ inch) long; smooth, but wrinkled; hollow in the center, straw-yellow; inodorous; taste sweetish"—(U. S. P.) The rhizome of couch-grass, according to Ludwig and Miller (Jahresb. der Pharm., 1872, p. 22, and 1873, p. 25), contains laevulose (from 2.5 to 3.3 per cent); triticin, a very hygroscopic, laevo-rotatory substance allied to inulin, soluble in diluted alcohol and water, insoluble in ether, little soluble in strong alcohol. Upon hydrolysis with water or diluted acids, it yields laevulose. Other constituents of the rhizome are acid malates, and about 11 per cent of a nitrogenous gummy substance forming insoluble compounds with neutral and with basic lead acetate. The dried rhizome yields 4.5 per cent of ash, containing much silicic acid. (For some possible economic uses of the rhizome, see Plauchud, Jour. Pharm. Chim., 1877, p. 389.)
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Couch-grass is diuretic and slightly aperient. It is an excellent agent in cases of excessive irritability of the bladder from any cause, lessening the frequency and pain of urination. It is a very efficient agent in cystitis, and those forms of dysuria due to chronic cystic irritability. It is highly praised as a remedy for incipient nephritis, allaying irritation, congestion and inflammation. Triticum is valued in pyelitis and other catarrhal and purulent urinary affections. It has been advised in gonorrhoea, chronic prostatitis with enlarged prostate, hematuria, and strangury. It is also recommended for its effects upon the renal secretion in gout, rheumatism, and jaundice. Infusion of triticum has long been used as a fever drink, and it has the well-merited reputation of preventing gravelly conditions. As a "spring medicine," for which it has been used by some, it is undoubtedly effectual in removing the broken-down material by way of the kidneys. The infusion is the best form of administration. To prepare the infusion: 1 ounce of the underground stem (or so-called root) is infused for 1 hour in a pint of boiling water. When strained, and cool, it may be given in wineglassful doses several times a day. It may likewise be used in the form of syrup. Specific triticum is a reliable alcoholic preparation, the dose being from 1 to 20 drops, in water..
Specific Indications and Uses.—Irritation of the urinary apparatus; pain in the back; frequent and difficult or painful urination; gravelly deposits in the urine; catarrhal and purulent discharges from urethra.
Pharmaceutical Preparation.—TRITIPALM. This is a specialty of Frederick Stearns & Co., of Detroit, Mich. It represents a combination of 60 grains of the fresh root of triticum and 30 grains of the fresh fruit of saw palmetto (Serenoa serrulata., in each fluid drachm. It is a palatable compound fluid extract, and is designed as a general nutrient tonic and sedative to irritated and inflamed states of the mucous membranes of nose, throat, and bronchiae, especially arresting purulent discharges; it also acts upon the glandular appendages of the reproductive tract. It is specially recommended in nephritis, simple and gonorrhoeal urethritis, cystitis, vesical irritability, strangury, dysuria, and atrophy of the mammae, testes, ovaries, uterus, and especially of the prostate gland. The dose is 1 fluid drachm, followed by a draught of water, 4 times a day.
Sorghum vulgare, Broom-corn.—The seeds of this plant are employed by the negroes of the southern states as a remedy for bladder troubles, such as cystitis. They make a decoction of the seeds (2 ounces) in 1 quart of water, and boil it down to 1 pint.