Cyperus (Musta)

Though scorned upon as a stubborn weed, the grass-like cyperus plant, also known as musta, has many health tricks up its sleeves – in this case, its underground stem (rhizome and tubers).

Aromatic compounds called sesquiterpenes get all the praise and recognition, but it’s likely a team effort of different groups of compounds giving your health a boost.

Why It’s So Great

1. Supports Digestive Health

You must have noticed by now that your energy level is as good as your digestion. So you need to make sure the multi-step process called digestion flows smoothly. One way to do that is staying active. The other is to eat foods and herbs that are not just easy to digest but also helpful for the digestive tract – to name just a few, probiotics, ginger, and cyperus, all working in different ways. Here’s what cyperus does:

  • Cyperus puts your antioxidant enzymes to work so as to protect your stomach lining from corrosion. Damaging molecules called free radicals can strip down stomach cells, releasing intracellular enzymes that can erode the stomach wall.
  • It also combats diarrhea-causing E. coli bacteria. It doesn’t kill them but impairs their ability to produce toxins and cause harm.

2. Limits Inflammation

The word inflammation has gained bad press but it is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s one way your immune system copes with external (infection or injury) and internal threat (cell damage by free radicals). Usually it subsides when the problem is resolved. But with age, and poor lifestyle, the anti-inflammatory agents in your body do not function as well. So some amount of inflammation in your body becomes common. However, that can be easily taken care of by a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods and herbs.

Cyperus is one such herb. It targets blood vessels to block off “travel routes” of inflammatory molecules. It likely inhibits two body chemicals called histamine and serotonin, which normally help blood vessels expand and open up their walls to inflammatory molecules.

3. Stabilizes Blood Glucose and Lipids

Don’t worry about your blood glucose levels if you sometimes want to tuck into high-carb foods. Your body will bring it back down to normal soon enough. That’s what it does every day as and when needed. Cyperus could be of assistance in making this process glitch-free.

  • Restores liver function: In response to insulin, the liver soaks in and stores excess blood glucose. By giving your liver a nudge, cyperus helps manage your blood glucose levels.
  • Keeps blood lipids in check: Blood lipids tend to spike when your glucose level is high, like after you have eaten some fast carbs. This is because in a high-glucose environment, the enzyme lipoprotein lipase encourages the liver to convert free fatty acids into lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides). These are then released into the bloodstream. Cyperus opposes this conversion and helps maintain your blood lipid levels.

4. Reduces Weight Gain

Let’s be real – no herb can miraculously shave off layers of fat from your body, not even cyperus. That onus is on you and your lifestyle. Cyperus can, however, help your body break down and process fat more efficiently. This will support your other weight loss endeavors.

  • The herb stimulates a tiny structure called beta-3 adrenoceptor (β3-AR) sitting on fat cells. When β3-AR is activated, fat is broken down for energy and is, thus, removed from your system.

Somehow, cyperus also curbs your hunger, so you may find yourself eating less than usual when on the herb. It also reduces thirst and tiredness, other excuses we tend to use to overeat.

5. Enhances Mental Well-being

Feeling low once in a while – a few times a month for women with PMS, even – is quite normal. Your brain has in store “happy” chemicals like dopamine and serotonin to tide you over these periods. Some herbs, like cyperus, can help your brain further in this. Cyperus can inhibit the enzyme monoamine oxidase (or MAO) that is known to destroy the brain’s “happy” chemicals. So with more “happy” chemicals to go around, you’re bound to be in a better frame of mind more often.

Lifestyle Tip

Most people have about a teaspoon of cyperus powder (ground rhizome or tuber) mixed with honey. So, you can start with that as your daily routine.

As is required with all herbs, try and notice the small changes in how you feel and in your health after starting on the herb. You may then take a call on whether you need to have more or less of the herb or if you need to switch to another more suitable herb.