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Water Plantain

Water Plantain | Ze Xie
COMMON NAME (Chinese Name)

Water Plantain (Ze Xie)

BOTANICAL NAME

Alisma plantago-aquatica

COMMON NAMES

Water Plantain; Alisma; Mad-Dog Weed

BOTANICAL NAMES

Alisma plantago-aquatica; Alisma orientale; Rhizoma alismatis

USES

Historically speaking, water plantain has long been used to alleviate dysuria (difficult urination), water retention, and conditions resulting in low kidney function (among others). Recent research supports these anecdotal uses, as it shows that taking water plantain root extract by mouth has several beneficial effects. These effects include acting as a diuretic and anti-oxidant, as well as being nephroprotective and anti-inflammatory.

What’s more, several of the primary bioactive components in water plantain extract demonstrate potent antimicrobial properties as well as anti-osteoporotic properties. It’s no surprise, then, that some of the most promising OTC applications for water plantain supplements today include alleviating the symptoms of urinary tract infections (cystitis) and preventing kidney stones. That’s because both conditions can be caused by bacterial infections and exacerbated by the elimination of high levels of crystal-laden uric acid and excessive amounts of calcium in the urine during bone loss. Water plantain supplements can effectively diminish bacterial load, uric acid elimination, and calcium elimination.

In traditional Chinese medicine, water plantain is categorized as an herb that drains dampness. It is classified as sweet and bitter in taste, cold in temperature, and is know in particular for affecting the meridians.

PREPARATION & ADMINISTRATION

Water plantain root tubers are commonly available for purchase whole, sliced, and pre-powdered. In each case, the root tuber is the only part of the water plantain plant used for medicinal purposes, and it is always dried prior to further preparation. All known medicinal uses for water plantain supplements call for taking it by mouth, usually as a tea made via hot-water decoction or a tea from the powdered food supplement

As a general rule, the extract made via hot-water decoction is likely more potent than powdered (or encapsulated) water plantain supplements. Given the risks associated with overdosing, people practicing at-home decoction and self-determining the appropriate dose of the resulting extract should be cautious.

PRECAUTIONS

When taken within certain dose ranges, water plantain root extract appears to be fairly safe for healthy adults, with few known or reported side-effects. That being said, it is possible to overdose when taking water plantain supplements orally. In these cases, side-effects include bloody urine, water-electrolyte imbalance, and kidney and liver damage. More research is needed to determine safe dosing protocols. As a result, people who choose to take water plantain supplements prior to a time when safe dosing information is available should discuss any possible contraindications for use — like a personal history of kidney infection or other injury — with a physician before beginning to use this herb.

Likewise, because of its diuretic properties, people who are sensitive to diuretics, taking medications that are contraindicated for use with diuretics, or who are already taking a diuretic medication should avoid using water plantain supplements. Doing so may lead (at best) to dehydration, dizziness, headaches, and muscle cramps, and may cause potentially life-threatening interactions between different diuretic mechanisms.

You should consult with a certified herbalist, physician or other qualified healthcare professional before taking water plantain.

 

REFERENCES

Cheng, Shupin, et al. “Effects of Alismatis Rhizoma and Rhizoma Smilacis Glabrae Decoction on Hyperuricemia in Rats.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2019, 2019, pp. 1–12., doi:10.1155/2019/4541609.

Jin, H., Jin, Q., Ryun Kim, A. et al. A new triterpenoid from Alisma orientale and their antibacterial effect. Arch. Pharm. Res. 35, 1919–1926 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12272-012-1108-5

Jolly, James & Chin, Kok Yong & Alias, Ekram & Chua, Kien & Soelaiman, Ima. (2018). Protective Effects of Selected Botanical Agents on Bone. International journal of environmental research and public health. 15. 10.3390/ijerph15050963.

Lee, Mu-Jin, et al. “A 90-Day Repeated Oral Dose Toxicity Study of Alismatis Rhizoma Aqueous Extract in Rats.” Toxicological Research, vol. 35, no. 2, 2019, pp. 191–200., doi:10.5487/tr.2019.35.2.191.

Liu  Y, Liu  JP, Xia  Y. Chinese herbal medicines for treating osteoporosis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD005467. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005467.pub2.

Tian, Ting, et al. “Traditional Uses, Phytochemistry, Pharmacology, Toxicology and Quality Control of Alisma Orientale (Sam.) Juzep: A Review.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Elsevier, 6 Nov. 2014, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378874114007715.

Zhang, Le-Le, et al. “Therapeutic Potential of Rhizoma Alismatis: a Review on Ethnomedicinal Application, Phytochemistry, Pharmacology, and Toxicology.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, vol. 1401, no. 1, 2017, pp. 90–101., doi:10.1111/nyas.13381.

Zhang, Xue & Li, Xiao-Yan & Lin, Na & Zhao, Wanli & Huang, Xiao-Qiang & Chen, Ying & Huang, Ming-Qing & Wen, xu & Wu, Shui-Sheng. (2017). Diuretic Activity of Compatible Triterpene Components of Alismatis rhizoma. Molecules. 22. 1459. 10.3390/molecules22091459.

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