Dioscorides, the great Greek botanist, and physician of the 1st century A.D., recommended giant reed to increase urine production. This plant was probably used in ancient times with these aims because it grows near streams.
Giant Reed Scientific Facts
- Other names: Cane, Spanish reed.
- Scientific name: Arundo donax L.
- French: Canne de Provence.
- Spanish: Cana comun.
- Environment: Common along river banks and near streams all over Mediterranean regions of Europe and spread all over America.
- Description: Plant of the Gramineae family, growing up to 5 m high. It should not be mistaken for bamboo since only one leaf grows on every stem knot of giant reed.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The rhizome (underground stem) and the root.
Healing Properties and Uses
The rhizome (underground stem) and the root of the giant reed contain sugar (saccharose) and many silicon derivatives. It has two main properties:
- Diuretic. It produces a mild increase in urine production, promoting the elimination of uric acid and other waste substances. It is recommended for people suffering from kidney colic and those who want to take a depurative treatment.
- Galactofuge. When taken for some days, giant reed stops milk production in breastfeeding women. It is helpful for all those women who, for any reason, want to give up breastfeeding.
How to use Giant Reed
- Decoction with the rhizome or root of the plant, sliced or ground, in a proportion of 50 grams per liter of water. Boil for 15 minutes and drink from two to four cups daily.
Spiked Alpinia grows in Central and South America. This plant is not a variety of giant reed since it belongs to another botanical family: Zingiberaceae. Spiked Alpinia grows up to one meter high and has slightly oval-shaped large leaves, from 10 to 30 cm long. A white, yellow, or orange flower grows among the upper leaves. This plant has been traditionally used in Latin American popular medicine due to its properties.
- Diuretic. Besides increasing urine production and eliminating waste substances, it has interesting anti-inflammatory properties on urinary organs. It is recommended for nephritis, kidney stones, and urine bladder inflammation or cystitis.
- Emmenagogue. It increases menstruation when this is not normal and calms menstrual pains (dysmenorrhea).
It is also used in decoction, prepared with the stems, root, and leaves, mashed (50 grams of plant per liter of water). Boil for 15 minutes and drink from two to four cups daily. Sweeten with honey.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 566. Print.