Nutgrass (Cyperus rotundus) Information, Uses and Side-effects

Nut-grass or Motha can be seen growing as weed in garden, lawn, fields and waste lands. It looks like grass and have tuberous roots underground. It is a perennial plant. Its blackish tuberous roots have distinct smell due to presence of essential oil. These rhizomes roots are rich in medicinal properties and used in Ayurveda for treatment of diseases since time immemorial. They are used fresh and dried. For medicinal purpose the dried powder or decoction of roots are prescribed.

Motha ayurveda

In Ayurveda this plant is known as Mustak or Motha. It is used in treatment of variety of diseases. It is one of the best herb for treating many female disorders like yeast, candida and premenstrual syndrome. It is also used for menopause, menstrual disorders, dysmenorrhea, and breast tumors. Mustak/Nut-grass is used alone or in combination with other herbs for treating digestive disorders, pain in abdomen, low appetite, digestive weakness, indigestion, malabsorption, diarrhea and bleeding dysentery. Animal studies show oral administration of roots breaks the lipids and mobilizes the fat from adipose tissues and thus helps in reducing obesity. Another study shows, the daily intake of Motha root powder (1 gram, three times a day) and Ashwagandha powder (1 gram, two times a day) shows good result in rheumatoid arthritis.

Scientific Classification of Cyperus rotundus

The botanical name of Motha is Cyperus rotundus Linn. and it belongs to the family Cyperaceae.

Cyperaceae or sedge family comprises of monocotyledonous flowering plants. The plants of this family are grass like and found especially in wet regions throughout the world. It is among the 10 largest families of flowering plants, containing about 5, 000 species. In genus Cyperus, there are nearly 650 species.

Cyperus rotundus taxonomic classification is as given below:-

  • KINGDOM: Plantae – Plants
  • SUBKINGDOM: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
  • SUPERDIVISION: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
  • DIVISION: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
  • CLASS: Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
  • SUBCLASS: Commelinidae
  • ORDER: Cyperales
  • FAMILY: Cyperaceae – Sedge family
  • GENUS: Cyperus L. – flatsedge P
  • SPECIES: Cyperus rotundus L. – nutgrass


  • AYURVEDIC: Musta, Mustaa, Mustaka, Abda, Ambuda, Ambhoda, Ambodhara, Bhadra, Bhadra, Bhadramusta, Bhadramusta, Bhadramustaka, Ghana, Jalada, Jaldhara, Meghahva, Nirada, Varida, Varivaha, Payoda, Balahaka, Ganda-Durva
  • SIDDHA: Koraikkizhangu
  • UNANI: Naagarmothaa, Saad-e-Kufi
  • HINDI: Motha, Nagarmotha
  • ASSAMESE: Mutha, Somad Koophee
  • BENGALI: Mutha, Musta
  • GUJARATI: Moth, Nagarmoth
  • KANNADA: Konnari Gadde
  • MALAYALAM: Muthanga, Kari Mustan
  • MARATHI: Moth, Nagarmoth, Motha, Bimbal
  • PUNJABI: Mutha, Motha
  • TAMIL: Korai, Korai-Kizhangu
  • TELUGU: Tungamustalu
  • ENGLISH: Coco-grass, Java grass, nut grass, purple nut sedge, purple nutsedge, red nut sedge.
  • URDU: Sad Kufi

Part used for medicinal purpose: Rhizome

Habitat: Indigenous to India, and found in tropical, subtropical and temperate regions.

Found throughout the plains of India up to an elevation of 1800 m;grow in waste grounds, gardens and roadsides, and similar places.


Drug consists of rhizome and stolon. Rhizomes bluntly conical and vary in size and thickness, crowned with the remains of stem and leaves forming a scaly covering, dark brown or black externally, creamish-yellow internally;odour, pleasant.

MAIN CONSTITUENTS: The major compounds isolated from essential oil and the extracts of C.rotundus rhizome are Alpha-cyperone, Alpha-rotunol, Beta-cyperone, Beta-pinene, Beta-rotunol, Beta-selinene, Calcium, Camphene, Copaene, Cyperene, Cyperenone, Cyperol, Cyperolone Cyperotundone Dcopadiene, D-epoxyguaiene, D-fructose, D-glucose, Flavonoids, Gamma-cymene, Isocyperol, Isokobusone, Kobusone, Limonene, Linoleic-acid, Linolenic-acid, Magnesium, Manganese, C. rotunduskone, Myristic-acid, Oleanolic-acid, Oleanolic-acid-3-oneohesperidoside, Oleic-acid, P-cymol, Patchoulenone, Pectin, Polyphenols, Rotundene, Rotundenol, Rotundone, Selinatriene, Sitosterol, Stearic-acid, Sugeonol, Sugetriol.

The essential oil comprised mostly sesquiterpene hydrocarbons, epoxides, ketones, monoterpenes and aliphatic alcohols. Sesquiterpenes include selinene, isocurcumenol, nootkatone, aristolone, isorotundene, cypera- 2, 4(15)-diene, and norrotundene, as well as the sesquiterpene alkaloids rotundines A-C.


Mustak or Motha is Pungent, bitter and astringent. It is cold in potency and increases Vata dosha if taken in excess. It pacifies Pitta and Kapha dosha.

The roots on oral intake have action on plasma, blood, muscle, and nerves. It mainly affects digestive, circulatory, female reproductive system. Achrya Charak and Sushrut used Motha in diarrhea, dysentery, digestive disorders, vaginal and uterine diseases.

  • Rasa (Taste): Tikta/Bitter, Katu (pungent) kashaya/Astringent
  • Guna (Characteristics): Laghu/Light, Ruksha/Dry,
  • Virya (Potency): Sheet/ Cool
  • Vipaka (Post Digestive Effect): Katu/Pungent

Action on body

  • Dipana/ deepana (Digestive stimulant)
  • Grahi (Anti-diarrhea, binds stool)
  • Pachana (digest ama/toxins)
  • Kapha-har (pacifies the Kapha/mucous)
  • Pitta-har (pacifies pitta)
  • Sthoulya-har (reduces obesity)
  • Tvakadosh-har (cures skin diseases)
  • Sotha-har (reduces swelling)


Mustakarishta, Mustakadi Kvatha, Ashokarishta, Mustakadi Churna, Mustakadi Lehya, Piyushavalli Rasa, Gulmakatanala Rasa, Mahalakshadi Taila etc.


  • Digestive weakness, Indigestion
  • Diarrhea, Dysentery, Malabsorption
  • Excess thirst, Rheumatism, Vomiting
  • Cold, cough
  • Gynecological Disorders
  • Intestinal Parasites, painful urination, fever


  • Dry Powder dose 3-6 grams.
  • Decoction (Kwath) prepared from the dry root powder:20-30 ml.
  • For preparing decoction boil one tablespoon of Motha root powder in one glass water. Cook till water reduces to 70-50ml. Fitter this using a tea strainer.

Medicinal Properties of Mustak/Nut-grass Rhizome

Motha roots contain several active chemical constituents. Due to presence of these constituents the roots possess following medicinal properties. These properties are scientifically proven by various scientific studies.

  • Antioxidant: Strong radic al scavenging action;Prevents free radical damage of cells.
  • Anthelmintic: Destroy parasitic worms.
  • Antifungal: Effective against fungus.
  • Alterative: restoring healthy bodily functions.
  • Anti-rheumatic: against rheumatism.
  • Antispasmodic: prevents or relieves spasms/cramps.
  • Anti-hyperglycemic: lowers the blood glucose levels.
  • Aphrodisiac: stimulates sexual desire.
  • Astringent: Constricts soft organic tissue.
  • Carminative: Relieves gas in the alimentary tract (colic or flatulence or griping).
  • Diaphoretic: Induces perspiration.
  • Diuretic: Increases passing of urine.
  • Emmenagogue: stimulate blood flow in the pelvic area and uterus.
  • Hepatoprotective: Protects liver and improves liver functions.
  • Stimulant: raises levels of physiological or nervous activity in the body.
  • Stomachic: promotes the appetite or and assist in digestion.
  • Hypotensive: lowers blood pressure.

Medicinal Uses of Nut grass/Cyperus rotundus

For medicinal purpose the tuberous roots of plant are used. They are used internally as well as externally. The decoction of Motha roots with honey is prescribed in diarrhea. In diarrhea with mucus and pain, Motha roots are boiled in milk and given.

Stomach disorder

One or two crushed tubers boiled with about 200 ml cow milk are given in stomach disorder.

Atisaar or Diarrhea

The dried root powder is given in dose of 5 grams with Butter milk 3-4 times a day.

Pravahika or dysentery

Nutgrass improves intestinal absorption and stops diarrhea. The decoction of nutgrass root is taken in dosage of 30ml two times a day.

Jaundice, cold

The decoction of nutgrass is beneficial.

Improving health

The juice of nutgrass is highly health promoting.


For fever, the decoction of nutgrass root is taken in dosage of 30ml.

Intestinal disorders

The roots are ground and taken with honey in dose of one teaspoon.

Improving breast milk

The paste of fresh roots is applied on breasts.

Sores, Wounds

The root paste is applied on affected places.

Caution, Side-effects and Contraindications of Nagarmotha

It should be taken cautiously in constipation.

It increases vata dosha.


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