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Nut grass is a common weed in the Indian subcontinent and is found throughout the world. Its seeds are edible and can be used in extremis, but the rhizome is particularly valued for its oil and this is used in the perfume industry. The grass is a member of the sedge family or the Cyperaceae family of plants so is a close relative of Cyperus esculentus, the tiger nut or chufa. Nut grass has been used to cure a number of ailments in traditional medicine systems around the world. In Pakistan it is used for stomach problems, as a diuretic and stimulant as well as to improve the functioning of the nervous system.
In other systems it has been used to assist in menstrual problems, to reduce the temperatures in fevers and to promote sweating, and has a number of other uses as well as being an alleged aphrodisiac. It can regulate blood pressure and clinical trials have shown that extracts of the plant have anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. It may also have sedative and hypnotic effects as well as being a muscle relaxant.
Tamil : Korai Kizhangu - கோரை கிழங்கு
Malayalam : Muthanga, Kari Mustan
Hindi : मोथा Motha, Nagarmotha, बड़ा नागर मोथा Bara-nagar-motha, कोरेही झाड़ Korehi-jhar
Telugu : Tunga mustalu
Botanical : Cyperus rotundus
It contains camphene so is rather like the camphor tree in its smell, and it is used as an insect repellent in clothes, but as I’ve mentioned before, sandalwood and patchouli are much better smelling than camphor based smells.
A decoction of the rhizomes and roots is used in Ayurvedic medicine as an antidote to poison, while a paste of the rhizome can be applied to the breasts of a mother to promote the milk flow. Incidentally in folk medicine the same paste is used to increase the size of breasts. The roots and rhizomes are used to improve memory and the cognitive processes, and to “harmonize” the functions of the liver, spleen and pancreas.
The above ground part of the plant is used to get rid of internal worms, and as an astringent to heal wounds, and this is the part believed to have aphrodisiac properties. It is used to treat rheumatism and fungal infections. It is used to cure indigestion, coughs, bronchitis, to stop vomiting and to quench thirst, and has many other uses.
Here is a remedy for headaches: - pulverize the rhizome to a paste and plaster this on your forehead for almost instant relief (it is claimed). The same paste applied to irritated skin will also stop itching.
A powder from the rhizome is used for epilepsy and psychosis as well as menstrual problems.
In China the plant is used to treat cervical cancer. You will also see Cyperus rotundus in skin whitening creams and women are told specifically to look for this ingredient on the labels of such creams.
The plant contains limonene, camphene, the minerals magnesium and manganese along with flavonoids, tannins, polyphenols and saponins. Clinical trials have at least borne out some of the traditional uses of this plant, and perhaps more will be verified as clinical trials progress.