Kusha (Desmostachya bipinnata) Uses, Research, Medicines, Side Effects

Kusha – Desmostachya bipinnata is an Ayurvedic herb used for the treatment of diarrhea, skin diseases, renal calculi, dysmenorrhea and improving breast milk during lactation. 

Latin name – Desmostachya bipinnata Stapf.
Family – Gramineae ( yava kula)

Vernacular names

Kusa – Names in different languages:
Hindi name – Kushta, Kusa, Dab, Davoli, Durva
English name – Tadch grass, Sacrificial grass, Sacred Kusha grass
Bengali name – Derbha
Gujarati name – Darbha, Darabha
Kannada name – Kusha, Darbhe
Malayalam name – Kusha veru, Darbha
Marathi name – Darbha
Punjabi name – Dhab, Dih, Kusa
Tamil name – Teruppai
Telugu name – Darbha, Darbhagaddi
Afghanistani name – Drab, Kuthag
Bolan – Drab
Bombay – Drabh
Budelkhand – Dabvi
Central provinces – Chir, Dabhat, Kusha

Kusha grass mat –
A mat is prepared with this grass and used for sitting and sleeping on it. It acts as a natural coolant. It keeps the body cool and has some protective action against radiation.

Properties, part used, dosage

Medicinal properties of Desmostachya bipinnata:
Rasa (Taste) – Madhura (Sweet), Kashaya (Astringent)
Guna (Qualities) – Laghu (Light), Snigdha (Slimy)
Vipaka – Madhura (Undergoes sweet taste after digestion)
Veerya (Potency) – Sheeta (Cold)
Karma (Actions) – Tridoshagna (Pacifies all the three vitiated doshas)
Pharmacological actions – Diuretic, Galactagogue, Hemostatic

Part used – Root
Dosage –
Decoction – 50 to 70 ml


As per Dalhana, Kusa and Darbha are two different plants. Kusha has smaller, softer and pointed leaves where as Darbha has thicker, longer and scabrid leaves

Chemical composition

 The root of the plant contains Cylindrin, Arundroine and Feninole iso arboricole.

  • Decoction prepared from the root of Kusha is given in a dose of 40 – 50 ml to treat conditions of diarrhea and excessive burning sensation of the body.
  • In the condition of dysmenorrhea and leucorrhea, the cold infusion prepared from the root of Desmostachya bipinnata is given in a dose of 40 – 50 ml.
  • In the condition of eczema, the paste of the root of kusha is applied over the affected area.
  • To improve the quantity of breast milk in lactating women, the root of kusha is boiled in milk and is given in a dose of 30 – 40 ml regularly.
  • The decoction of the root of Desmostachya bipinnata is given in a dose of 40 – 50 ml to treat burning micturition, retention of urine in renal calculi and to cleanse the urinary bladder.
  • In the condition of fresh wounds, the decoction prepared using kusha along with neem, turmeric and triphala is used for washing the wound.
  • Kusha, Kasha, Nala, Darbha and Ikshu constitute ‘Trinapanchamoola’ in Ayurveda, which is used for treating thirst, scanty micturition, thirst and other disorders caused by vitiation of pitta dosha.
  • Piles-kusa root mixed with bala root is taken with rice water. It checks bleeding from piles, menometrorrhagia etc.
    Pradara-kusa root is pounded with rice water and taken with the same for three days. By  this the bleeding is checked.
  • Wounds-atriphala, khadira, daruharidra, nyagrodhadi(pancavalkala drugs),bala, kusa and tender leaves of nimba-decoction of these cleans wounds.
    One suffering from paithika dysuria should take the decoction of satavari, kusa, kasa, gokshura, vidari, Sali, ikshu and kaseruka added with honey and sugar. kusa, kasa, sara, darbha and ikshu –these five constitute the group trina panchamula whichis diuretic and useful in dysuria caused by pitta.

Sanskrit verse

Traditional description, Indications

Traditional description:
Snigdha – unctuous, oily
Hima – coolant
Svadu – sweet
Kashaya – astringent
Balances all three Doshas especially Kapha and Pitta Dosha

Indicated in –
Visarpa – herpes
Daha –  burning sensation, as in gastritis, neuropathy, burning sensation in eyes etc
Mutrakrichra –Dysuria, urinary retention
Ashmari – Kidney and bladder stones
Trushna – excessive thirst
Vasti Vikara – bladder related disorders

Asra – blood disorders such as abscess, skin disorders, bleeding disorders such as menorrhagia, nasal bleeding etc.
Pradara – leucorrhea and heavy periods
Visha – Toxic conditions, poisoning
Adverse effect:
No adverse effect is known or reported after the normal use of Kusha.

As purification agent

Darbha As a purification agent –
During Hindu rituals, dry Darbha grass is dipped into the water. This purifies the water and makes it fit for religious customs.
During the eclipse, the grass is placed in the food items. They are removed after the eclipse.
A systematic research was conducted by the SASTRA University researchers.

Cow’s curd was chosen as a food item that could ferment easily.

Five other tropical grass species, including lemon grass, Bermuda grass, and bamboo were chosen for comparison based on different levels of antibiotic properties and hydrophobicity.

Electron microscopy of different grasses revealed stunning nano-patterns and hierarchical nano or micro structures in darbha grass while they were absent in other grasses.

Microbial study of the curd revealed that darbha grass alone was found to attract enormous numbers of bacteria into the hierarchical surface features.

During eclipse, the wavelength and intensity of light radiations available on the earth’s surface is altered. Especially, the blue and ultraviolet radiations, which are known for their natural disinfecting property, are not available in sufficient quantities during eclipse.

This leads to uncontrolled growth of microorganisms in food products during eclipse and the food products are not suitable for consumption. Darbha was thus used as a natural disinfectant on specific occasions, say researchers at SASTRA University.
Further, the scientists declared that Darbha has a natural food preservative potential. (research)

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.

With western medicines
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.

Ayurvedic medicines

Ayurvedic medicines related to Kusha:
Ashmarihara kashaya: It is a medicine in decoction form, used in the treatment of urinary calculi and retention of urine.
Stanyajanana kashaya:  It is a medicine in decoction form, used to induce breast milk in a lactating mother.

Mutra virechaniya kashaya: This decoction is given to treat retention of urine and burning micturition.
Chandanadi Taila: It is a medicated oil useful in the management of burning sensation, dizziness, lack of sleep. The oil is used externally and as nasal drops.

Karpooradi arka: This medicine is in distillate form used for the treatment of digestive complaints, anorexia, bad breath, obesity, high cholesterol levels and heart diseases.
Vata gajankusha rasa: It is a tablet used in the treatment of sciatica, paralysis, brachialgia, spondylosis, arthritis, torticollis, thigh muscle stiffness and cramps.

P – Lact granule: It is a proprietary medicine used in improving the quantity of breast milk in lactating women.
Virataradi kashaya: It is a decoction used in the treatment of renal calculi, retention of urine and vataja disorders.


Research articles related to Desmostachya bipinnata:
Anti – obesity activity: Methanolic extract of aerial parts of Desmostachya bipinnata plant was studied for its Anti – obesity activity in animal experimental models. Wistar albino rats, albino mice were used to study anti – obesity activity of methanolic extract of D.bipinnata plant aerial parts at doses 200 mg/kg p.o. and 400 mg/kg p.o. against the standard orlistat 50 mg/kg p.o. in models of anti – obesity activity viz. High fat induced obesity, Progesterone induced obesity model. In both models, the plant showed anti – obesity activity significantly through the biochemical and behavioral parameters.

Maintain the blood sugar level: The present study was carried out to assess the effect of its hydro – alcoholic extract on glycemic status in non – diabetic rats. The results showed that the hydro – alcoholic extract has no effect on euglycemic levels with minimal insignificant alterations. But, the supplementation of this extract in hypoglycemic (food deprivation or swim exercise induced) rats reduced the extent of hypoglycemia significantly. In addition, this extract reduced the degree of hyperglycemia induced by exogenous administration of dextrose significantly. Altogether, the results of current study suggest that the constituents present in Desmostachya bipinnata hydro – alcoholic extract have the distinctive property of retaining euglycemic status irrespective of induced glycemic alterations.

Anti oxidant activity: The present study was aimed to evaluate the antioxidant and DNA damage protection activity of hydroalcoholic extract of Desmostachya bipinnata both in vitro and in vivo, to provide scientific basis for traditional usage of this plant. The extract showed significant antioxidant activity in a dose – dependent manner in H2O2 scavenging assay and prevented the oxidative damage to DNA in presence of DNA damaging agent (Fenton’s reagent) at a concentration of 50??g/mL.

Analgesic and anti – pyretic activity: Analgesic, Antipyretic and anti – inflammatory effect of petroleum ether, benzene chloroform, ethanol and aqueous extract of the whole parts of Desmostachya bipinnata Stapf (Poaceae) was investigated in albino rats. Animals were given a subcutaneous injection of 12% w/v suspension of yeast (1 ml /100 gm Body weight) suspended in 0.5% w/v methylcellulose solution which leads to pyrexia. All the extracts produced statistically significant and dose dependent inhibition of edema induced by carrageenan at all doses when compared to the control groups.

Diuretic and laxative action: The hydro – alcoholic extract of D. bipinnata whole plant was prepared by using Soxhlet extractor and subjected to analysis by standard preliminary phytochemical tests. Evaluation of both diuretic and laxative activity was carried out using standard methods as reported earlier. Frusemide (20 mg/kg) served as positive control for diuretic activity and sennosides (10 mg/kg) served as negative control for laxative activity. The hydro – alcoholic extract showed significant diuretic activity and was found to be the most potent in increasing the urinary output at 500 mg/kg when the effect was compared with that of the standard furosemide (P<0.01). Moreover, this extract was found to be most effective in increasing urinary electrolyte concentration (Na+, K+, and Cl – ) at both doses tested. Whereas the results for laxative activity showed minimal increase of feces output at the dose of 500 mg/kg and the increase was negligible when compared with that of the standard drug sennosides.

Classical categorization

Charaka samhita –
Mutravirechaniya – group of herbs that help in proper formation of urine, with proper colour
Stanyajanana – lactation inducing group of herbs
Madhura Skandha – sweet tasting group of herbs
Sushruta samhita – Truna Panchamoola
Bhavaprakasha – Guduchyadi varga
Kaiyyadeva Nighantu – Oushadhi varga
Shodala Nighantu – Karaveeradi varga 

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Genus:  Desmostachya
Species: D. bipinnata


Kusa and Darbha are actually two distinct plants. In classical texts, however, they are sometimes synonymous in certain contexts. Sitadarbha and Haridarbha are also mentioned in texts as specific varieties of kusa. Presently, the source plants of kusa and darbha are botanically identified as ‘Desmostachya Bipinnata Stapf’,and ‘Imperata Cylindrica Beaur’. (Both belong to the family Poaceae or Germinae respectively). The kusa has religious significance with socio-cultural background and ceremonial utility in Indian traditions as a sacred plant.
Acc. to Ra. Nii – 2 types – Sita and Asita

Sanskrit synonyms

Sanskrit Synonyms of Kusha:
Soochyagra, Soochimukha – The tip of the leaf is sharp similar to needle
Pavithra, Pavitraka, Yajna Samstara, Yajyanga, Yajna Bhushana, Yajnadarbha – It is auspicious as it is used in rituals, Homa
Deerghapathra – The leaf is long
Ksurapatra – Edges of leaves are very sharp
Soochyagra – pin tapering end of leaves

Khoorachjatha, Brahmapavithr, Kudtha, Varhi, Mahadarbha, Mahamoola, Mahapathri, Yajnabhooshana, Mahakusa, Kusha, Darbha, HrasvaDarbha,
Shveta Darbha, Pooti Darbha, Mrudu Darbha, Lava Kusha, Barhi, Krutapa, Kshudra Darbha, Kshuracchada


Morphology of Desmostachya bipinnata:
It is a shrub which grows to a height of 1 – 3 feet. The roots are strong. The leaves emerge from the base of the plant. They are slender 2 inch wide, grow to a height of 1 foot and are pointed at the tip. The leaves have small hair-like structures. Inflorescence – panicle,
The seeds are 1cm long, flat in nature. This plant is found all over the plains of India.

Author:  Dr.B.K.Prashanth M.D (Ayu), Ph.D
E mail: drprashanthbk@gmail.com
Click to consult Dr Prashanth BK

Sthanika Karma (Systemic Action)

Internal administration-
Digestive system – It has styptic action. Indicated in bleeding per rectum, excessive thirst.
Circulatory System – Indicated in Bleeding disorders
Reproductive system – Indicated in Menorrhagia, Metrorrhagia etc. increase breast milk production.
Excretory system – It is indicated in Dysuria, Renal calculi, renal colic, Helps to increase urine output
Tapakrama – Reduces burning sensation
Tvak – Indicated in skin disorders

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