Water plantain

Chinese: 泽泻

Pinyin: Zé Xiè

Parts used: Dried tuber

TCM category: Herbs that drain Dampness

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: BladderKidney

Scientific name: Alisma orientalis

Other names: Mad-dog weed

Use of water plantain (Ze Xie) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Remove impurities, soak slightly, cut in thick slices and dry.

Dosage: 6 - 10g.

Main actions according to TCM*: Causes urination and removes Damp-Heat

Primary conditions or symptoms for which water plantain may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Edema Oliguria Urinary tract infection Hyperlipidemia

Contraindications*: Do not use during pregnancy or breast-feeding

Common TCM formulas in which water plantain are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind water plantain (Ze Xie)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), water plantain are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that drain Dampness' category. These herbs are typically diuretics, meaning that they promotes the increased production of urine in order to remove Damp that has accumulated in the body. According to TCM Damp accumulates first in the lower limbs, causing edema and impaired movement. From there, if unchecked, it can move upward and impair digestion and eventually the respiratory system.

Furthermore water plantain are plants that are Cold in nature. This means that water plantain typically help people who have too much "heat" in their body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much heat in their body are said to either have a Yang excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition water plantain can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Water plantain also taste Sweet. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sweet ingredients like water plantain tend to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what organs and meridians they target. As such water plantain are thought to target the Bladder and the Kidney. In TCM the impure water collected by the Kidneys that cannot be used by the body is sent to the Bladder for storage and excretion as urine. The Kidneys do not only regulate the urinary system but also play a key role in the reproductive system and the growth and aging process of the body.

Research on water plantain(Ze Xie)

A new triterpenoid named alisol O was isolated from the rhizomes of Alisma orientalis and together with six known compounds and exhibited inhibitory activity in vitro on hepatitis B virus (HBV).1

Alisma orientalis methanolic extract showed hepatoprotective effects on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and may be a potential clinical application for treatment of this chronic liver disease.2


1. ZY Jiang, XM Zhang, FX Zhang, N Liu, F Zhao et al. (2006). A New Triterpene and Anti-Hepatitis B Virus Active Compounds from Alisma orientalis. Planta Med, 72(10): 951-954. DOI: 10.1055/s-2006-947178

2. Hong, X. , Tang, H. , Wu, L. and Li, L. (2006), Protective effects of the Alisma orientalis extract on the experimental nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 58: 1391-1398. doi:10.1211/jpp.57.10.0013