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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

Organ affinity: Bladder Kidney

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 (Ze Xie) are used*

Wu Ling San

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Promotes urination,. Warms the Yang. Strengthens the Spleen. Promotes Qi transformation function. Drains Dampness. Clears edema.

Conditions targeted*: EdemaGlomerulonephritis and others

Ze Xie is a king ingredient in Wu Ling San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Wu Ling San, Ze Xie leaches out Dampness and promotes urination. Its cold nature also enables it to eliminate the Stagnant Heat caused by water buildup.

Read more about Wu Ling San

Wei Ling Tang

Source date: 1481 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Promotes urination. Warms the Yang. Strengthens the Spleen. Drains Dampness. Promotes the movement of Qi. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Conditions targeted*: EdemaGastritis and others

Ze Xie is a king ingredient in Wei Ling Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Wei Ling Tang, Ze Xie leaches out Dampness and promotes urination. Its cold nature helps to eliminate the Stagnant Heat caused by water buildup.

Read more about Wei Ling Tang

Liu Wei Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1119 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system).

Conditions targeted*: Chronic nephritisProstate diseases and others

Ze Xie is an assistant ingredient in Liu Wei Di Huang Wan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, Ze Xie clears and drains the overabundance of Kidney Fire. It is used here to prevent the rich, cloying properties of the key herb (Prepared rehmannia) from congesting the mechanisms of the Kidneys, which would induce even more Heat from Deficiency.

Read more about Liu Wei Di Huang Wan

Ba Wei Di Huang Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies Yang. Warms the Kidneys and lower extremities.

Conditions targeted*: Diabetes mellitusDiabetes insipidus and others

Ze Xie is an assistant ingredient in Ba Wei Di Huang Wan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Ba Wei Di Huang Wan, Ze Xie clears and drains the overabundance of Kidney Fire. It is used here to prevent the rich, cloying properties of the key herb (Prepared rehmannia) from congesting the mechanisms of the Kidneys, which would induce even more Heat from Deficiency.

Read more about Ba Wei Di Huang Wan

Qi Ju Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1350 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes Kidney and Liver Yin. Improves vision.

Conditions targeted*: Diabetes mellitusDiabetes insipidus and others

Ze Xie is an assistant ingredient in Qi Ju Di Huang Wan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Qi Ju Di Huang Wan, Ze Xie clears and drains the overabundance of Kidney Fire. It is used here to prevent the rich, cloying properties of the key herb (Prepared rehmannia) from congesting the mechanisms of the Kidneys, which would induce even more Heat from Deficiency.

Read more about Qi Ju Di Huang Wan

Long Dan Xie Gan Tang

Source date: 1682 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Heat and Fire from the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears and drains Damp-Heat from the Lower Burner.

Conditions targeted*: FurunclesPurulent otitis and others

Ze Xie is an assistant ingredient in Long Dan Xie Gan Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

Read more about Long Dan Xie Gan Tang

Zhi Bo Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1584 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies Yin. Drains Fire.

Ze Xie is an assistant ingredient in Zhi Bo Di Huang Wan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Zhi Bo Di Huang Wan, Ze Xie clears and drains the overabundance of Kidney Fire. It is used here to prevent the rich, cloying properties of the key herb (Shu Di Huang) from congesting the mechanisms of the Kidneys, which would induce even more Heat from Deficiency.

Read more about Zhi Bo Di Huang Wan

Ba Xian Chang Shou Wan

Source date: 1615 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Treats Yin Deficiency of the Lungs and Kidneys.

Ze Xie is an assistant ingredient in Ba Xian Chang Shou Wan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Ba Xian Chang Shou Wan, Ze Xie clears and drains the overabundance of Kidney Fire. It is used here to prevent the rich, cloying properties of the key herb (Prepared rehmannia) from congesting the mechanisms of the Kidneys, which would induce even more Heat from Deficiency.

Read more about Ba Xian Chang Shou Wan

Zhi Shi Dao Zhi Wan

Source date: 1247 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Reduces and guides out stagnation and accumulation. Drains heat. Dispels dampness.

Ze Xie is an assistant ingredient in Zhi Shi Dao Zhi Wan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Zhi Shi Dao Zhi Wan, Ze Xie promotes water metabolism to facilitate the draining of Damp-Heat via the urine.

Read more about Zhi Shi Dao Zhi Wan

Gui Shao Di Huang Tang

Source date: 1706 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes Blood. Nourishes Yin.

In Gui Shao Di Huang Tang, Ze Xie nourishes Liver and Kidney Yin

Read more about Gui Shao Di Huang Tang

Shen Qi Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies and warms Kidney Yang.

Conditions targeted*: Diabetes mellitusHyperaldosteronism and others

In Shen Qi Wan, Ze Xie clears and drains the overabundance of Kidney fire. It is used here to prevent the rich, cloying properties of the chief herb Prepared rehmannia from congesting the mechanisms of the Kidneys, which will induce
even more fire from Deficiency

Read more about Shen Qi Wan

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 Dampness that has accumulated in the body. According to TCM Dampness 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 Phases' 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

Sources:

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