Water Plantain; Alisma; Mad-Dog Weed
Alisma plantago-aquatica; Alisma orientale; Rhizoma alismatis
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.
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.
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