What is Knotgrass?
Knotgrass, also referred to as common knotgrass is an annual plant related to dock and buckwheat. Known scientifically as Polygonum aviculare L, the plant goes by several other common names including knotweed, pigweed, birdweed and lowgrass.
The plant is native to North America and Eurasia and is widespread across the temperate regions of the globe. The plant is edible and in Vietnam, is used as an ingredient in a traditional hot pot or soup dish. Knotgrass is used to make medicine and a number of studies have found that it is effective against a range of conditions from kidney stones and colds to gingivitis.
If you would like to find out more about this plant and what it can do for your health, you have come to the right place.
Plant Description and Habitat
Knotgrass is a common annual herb that grows between 10 and 40 centimeters in height. It has a semi erect stem with short-stalked, elliptical leaves. The plant produces green flowers with pink or white margins. The plant also produces a dark brown fruit in the form of a small nut.
The seeds require light in order to germinate and the plant typically appears in areas where the soil has been disturbed despite the seeds laying dormant for many years.
The plant appears in many parts of the world but is especially common around the British isles, Ireland and the United States especially in the southeastern parts of the US.
A number of studies have been done to analyze the effects of common knotgrass on a range of physical ailments. Studies into the composition of the plant have found that it contains various flavonoids such as avicularin, juglanin, astragalin, betmidin and myricitrin.
The plant has a number of medicinal properties including antioxidant, antibacterial, antiseptic, expectorant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer actions.
Health Benefits of Knotgrass
Knotgrass has traditionally been used to treat the symptoms of the common cold including congestion and coughs. It is believed to have natural expectorant properties as well as anti-inflammatory actions that can help free mucus from the system and help people breathe more easily.
No studies have been done into the effects of the herb on cold symptoms but there is a lot of evidence from traditional use to suggest it works.
Getting plenty of antioxidants into the system form dietary sources is essential to good health. Antioxidants like those found in knotgrass can protect the body from disease and even reverse the damage done to the cells by free radicals that we encounter on a daily basis. Antioxidants can protect us from a number of serious illnesses and perform an anti-aging function that can help us internally and also improve our external appearance.
Studies into the antioxidant activity of knotgrass have identified a number of powerful substances. These include various flavonoids and phenolic compounds which several laboratory studies have examined. This laboratory study published in 2006 concluded that extracts from knotgrass had clear antioxidant effects. (1)
According to research, common knotgrass has the potential to combat chronic fatigue as well as some of the common symptoms of fatigue such as depression and chronic pain.
Because of its known anti-inflammatory properties, researchers speculated that the herb could alleviate fatigue symptoms and set out to test the theory on mice. After feeding extracts of the herb to the mice, scientists were able to conclude that treatment with the herb was effective in reducing fatigue because of its ability to suppress neuroinflammation. (2)
Gingivitis is a gum infection which is characterized by pain and inflammation in the gums. It can be a very painful condition and is usually treated with antibiotics. because of the risk of side effects and growing concerns over antibiotic resistance, researchers have looked at a number of natural remedies for the condition.
A study conducted back in 2001 set out to evaluate the effectiveness of knotgrass against gingivitis in 60 male subjects. The participants in the study used a knotgrass extract as an oral rinse twice a day for two weeks. The results demonstrated that rinsing the mouth with knotgrass significantly reduced gingivitis and the researchers concluded that Polygonum aviculare L. could potentially be used as a supportive therapy for the condition. (3)
Knotgrass may also be a useful natural remedy against kidney stones. Kidney stones or nephrolithiasis is a fairly common and extremely painful urinary tract condition that can lead to significant complications. A recent study published in May 2018 set out to evaluate the effectiveness of knotgrass on kidney stones in rats.
The rats were treated with an aqueous extract of Polygonum Aviculare L. for 28 days and at the end of the study, the researchers concluded that the treatment had a significant effect helping to both prevent and treat the condition. (4)
When it comes to finding a treatment for cancer, researchers have turned increasingly to nature. More and more herbs are being evaluated for their anti-cancer properties and their ability ti inhibit cancer cell proliferation.
One study published in 2011 looked at the anti-cancer effects of the herb on breast cancer cells. the results were extremely promising. The researchers found that an extract of Polygonum aviculare had powerful inhibitory effects on cancer cell proliferation while it also induced the death of cancer cells by a process known as apoptosis.
The researchers concluded that the phenolic compounds found in the herb exerted a strong antioxidant and anti-tumor effect and may have a wide range of medicinal uses.
Nevertheless, it is early days when it comes to the study of the herb and more research will be needed before its effectiveness can be confirmed.
As well as its internal uses, knotgrass may also be applied topically to help boost your skin’s health and appearance and to treat various common skin infections. knotgrass contains various flavonoids with powerful antioxidant actions. The herb can help with general skin health by making it look stronger, firmer and younger. It may also help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and other signs of aging.
How to Use Knotgrass
Knotgrass is available in various supplementary forms including liquid extracts, tinctures and capsules. It can also be used to make a healthy and soothing tea.
Make sure that you follow any dosage recommendations on the label and consult a doctor if you have any concerns.
Side Effects and Precautions
Knotgrass is considered safe for most people as long as it is used in the proper dosage. No serious side effects have been reported but you should consult your doctor if you are in any way concerned. Like most herbal remedies, side effects are possible and certain people need to be extra cautious
Pregnant women and mothers who are breastfeeding should avoid using knotgrass. There is insufficient safety data regarding its safety for women who are pregnant or those who are nursing. It is recommended that you err on the side of caution and avoid using the herb.
- Knotgrass is an herb with a variety of medicinal properties including antioxidant, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, expectorant and antibacterial benefits.
- Studies suggest it could be an effective natural remedy for chronic fatigue, gingivitis and kidney stones while its antioxidant actions can protect the body from a number of illnesses.
- Preliminary studies suggest that knotgrass may help prevent and treat cancer naturally.
- There are no known side effects to using knotgrass but pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should avoid using the herb.