September 01, 2021
Like any good church, mine has a group of super-volunteers, prepared to go the extra mile. In the case of the church’s landscaping that extra mile leads to us hand-pulling weeds that the professional landscapers would prefer to tackle with herbicides. Hey, kids play in those landscaping patches whether we want them to or not.
At a recent weed pulling party I got a front row seat to exactly how aggravating one super-volunteer, let’s call her Joy, finds the plant known as nutgrass. It’s no wonder this little plant is makes Joy crazy. This grass sprouts from a tuber. When it sprouts, it also sends out underground stems make more tubers. Each little tuber has up to 7 viable buds and enough energy in reserve to sprout all of them. If you pull one shoot, the tuber sends up another and another and another hoarding all the resources from the plants we actually want to grow.
When I told the Joy that nutgrass is actually a traditional Chinese herb used to help with stress and anger management, her initial response was, “That’s amazing! To think that stuff is useful to anyone for anything!”
Followed by, “But… it might get you into a loop – take the herb to feel calm, then go after the nutgrass in the garden and get stressed, and take the herb to get calm and then …” The irony of nutgrass is not lost on Joy.
Scientific NameCyperus rotundus Common Name (Western)Nutgrass Rhizome Chinese Name (Pin Yin)Xiang Fu OriginGrows throughout China, but mostly harvested in the Shandong, Zhejiang, Hunan and Henan provinces, probably by landscapers thinking, “wow, people pay money for this weed?”
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Nutgrass has long, thin blades that look like clumps of grass above the dirt. But it’s actually the underground tuber, or the “nut” of the nutgrass plant that is used medicinally.
Not unlike afternoon traffic, when things in the body don’t move well, the result is pain. In the categorization of traditional Chinese herbs, there are herbs that move qi (energy, lifeforce, mojo- there really isn’t a clean translation) and herbs that move blood. Then there is nutgrass that is categorized as an herb that moves qi but also moves blood. It’s counterpart, ligusticum root is categorized as an herb that moves blood but also moves qi. Really, it’s like being a dancer who sings or a singer who dances. Either way, you need to do both to get cast in Hamilton.
Generally herbs that are useful for moving are too strong for people that are really weak. Nutgrass is no exception.
Nutgrass is used in Herbalogic Quiet Mind to help with stress and inspire feelings of calm.
Nutgrass also helps with stress in Herbalogic Peacekeeper, but serves an additional role to help relieve menstrual pain such as abdominal cramps and breast tenderness.
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