Remember back in February when I tried to write a blog post everyday about a new herb? I made it about halfway through the month and then, well, I don't really know what I started doing instead. It probably wasn't cool or productive though...
Anyways, we are learning all about the urinary system in Ayurveda school right now, and so we have been learning about the best herbs for UTI's and bladder infections. Enter: Gokshura - known in the West as Goat's Head or Puncture Vine. Anything called Goat's Head was bound to be amazing, so it is no surprise that I have found my new favorite herb for the time being. Surely, the next chapter will bring about another favorite herb, but before that happens let's talk about this one!
Gokshura comes from the two Sanskrit words Go (cow) and Kshura (barb or razor). The thorns will absolutely puncture you or your grazing animals, so that is likely how it came to be named "cow razor." In the US it is often referred to as Goat's Head because of its resemblance to, well, a goat head... Can you see it?
This plant/weed is native to southern Europe, but is now scattered throughout the United States. It thrives in arid climates, so is quite abundant in eastern Oregon, though I've heard it's becoming more abundant west of the Cascades. The Oregon State Weed Board has listed Gokshura as a noxious weed, which is defined as "a plant that is injurious to public health, agriculture, recreation, wildlife, or any public or private property." Apparently it punctures a lot of bike tires, can poke through your tennis shoes, and can even get caught in harvesting equipment. So, Oregon may not be its biggest fan, but I still am, but maybe because I've never experienced its puncturing capabilities...
I've heard Gokshura referred to as a "magic" herb a few times. While I wish it was really magic, it is referred to this way because it has many healing qualities and is also generally good for ALL doshas. It is a diuretic AND a demulcent (which means it is ok for Vata dosha), a lithotrope, urinary tonic, aphrodisiac, nervine tonic, and an analgesic (painkiller).
Its number one use is in urinary tract disorders because it promotes the flow of urine while soothing the membranes of the urinary tract and being free of the side effects of most diuretics. Diuretics can be really drying, so any diuretic that also acts as a demulcent is great for UTIs & bladder infections, helping to keep moisture where it is needed. It also aids in the discharge of stones, is known to stop bleeding, nourish & strengthen the kidneys, and to strengthen the reproductive system by increasing semen. I was happy to learn that it is also very invigorating for postpartum women, which is a double whammy because postpartum women often suffer from urinary tract infections in addition to fatigue and the million other things the welcoming of new life into the world entails.
Gokshura is a great rejuvenate for pitta and a great nervine sedative for calming anxious vata. Its qualities as an aphrodisiac are increased when in a milk decoction, and when mixed with equal parts dry ginger it can relieve nerve and back pain. It helps to harmonize any herb formula made for the kidneys and helps promote clarity, as well.
I'm excited to try it out as a possible pain reliever! If anybody else has experience with it for UTIs and bladder infections let me know - I'd love to hear how it worked for you! I, thankfully, have never had urinary tract disorder so haven't been able to try it out in this way. And if you see it growing where you are and want to get rideof it, send it my way! It seems it's herbal use has yet to catch on here in the US!