Drugs A - Z
White water lily (Nymphaea odorata)
Generic Name: Nymphaea alba
CategoryHerbs & Supplements
Afzelin, alkaloids, American white pond lily, American white water lily, Castalia odorata (Dryander), cow cabbage, fragrant water lily, gallic acid, icariside, large white water lily, lignans, lily pad, myricitrin, Nuphar advena, Nuphar luteum, Nymphaea alba, Nymphaea ampla DC., Nymphaea caerulea Sav., Nymphaea lotus, Nymphaea odorata (Dryander) Aiton, Nymphaea odorata Ait. ssp. tuberosa (Paine) Wiersma and Hellquist, Nymphaea rubra, Nymphaea stellata Willd., Nymphaea tuberosa, Nymphaeaceae (family), nymphaeoside A, sweet water lily, sweet-scented water lily, tannins, tartaric acid, water cabbage, water lily, water nymph, white pond lily.
The use of white water lily (Nymphaea odorata) for medicinal purposes originates from Native American traditional medicine.
Several other species from the Nymphaea and Nuphar (another water lily genus) genera have been used in traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, and homeopathic practices.
The dried root and rhizome of the white water lily have been taken by mouth to treat gastrointestinal, genital, and bronchial conditions. The leaves and roots have also been used externally, as infusions to treat lesions and inflammation associated with mucous membranes, and as poultices to treat a variety of dermatological conditions.
Some of the medicinal properties of white water lily may be attributed to its reported antibiotic and astringent properties, which may be the result of tannic and gallic acids found in the plant tissue.
EvidenceDISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
TraditionWARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, bladder disturbances, bleeding, boils, bronchial irritation, burns, canker sores, chemopreventive, congestion, dermatitis, diarrhea, edema (swelling), exhaustion, eye inflammation, gastrointestinal inflammation, gonorrhea, hallucinogen, hepatoprotection (liver protection), kidney problems, leukorrhea (vaginal discharge), menstrual problems, narcotic, nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting), periodontal disease, pharyngitis (sore throat), prostate problems, thrush, tonsillitis, tuberculosis, tumors, ulcers (mouth and throat), uterine cancer, uterine inflammation, uterine prolapse, vaginal disorders, venereal diseases.
Adults (18 years and older):
There is no proven safe or effective dose for white water lily. White water lily has been given as an infusion, fluid extract, powder or tincture. An infusion has been made with 30 grams of the powdered root, macerated, and boiled in 300 milliliters of water for 30 minutes. About 30-60 milliliters of this infusion has been taken 3-4 times daily, between meals. Also, 1-2 grams of the dried root steeped in 150 milliliters boiling water for 5-10 minutes and strained has been used.
As a fluid extract, 1-5 milliliters of a 1:1 extract in 25% ethanol has been used. As a powder, 1-2 grams given in milk or sweetened water has been used. As a tincture, 1-10 drops of tincture made from 240 grams of the root in 76% ethanol has been used.
Children (younger than 18 years):
There is no proven safe or effective dose for white water lily, and use in children is not recommended.
SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to white water lily (Nymphaea odorata).
Side Effects and Warnings
There is little information on the adverse effects of Nymphaea odorata. According to historical use, white water lily may have central nervous system-related side effects. For example, other Nymphaea species have hallucinogenic and narcotic effects, but it is unclear whether white water lily would cause these as well. Use cautiously in patients with psychological and central nervous system (CNS) disorders, including seizure disorders.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Interactions with Drugs
Based on historical use of other Nymphaea species as a hallucinogen and a narcotic, central nervous system (CNS) related side effects may be possible. White water lily may interfere with the effects of drugs acting in the central nervous system, such as opioids and other pain-relievers, anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, and medications used to treat dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Based on historical use of other Nymphaea species as a hallucinogen and a narcotic, central nervous system (CNS) related side-effects may be possible and white water lily may interfere with the effects of herbs acting in the central nervous system, such as herbs used to treat pain, depression, psychological conditions, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature, and was peer-reviewed and edited by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): Jessica Clubb, PharmD (Northeastern University); Gary Deng, MD, PhD (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center); Nicole Giese, MS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Toni M. Schaeffer, PhD, PharmD (Albany College of Pharmacy); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration).
BibliographyDISCLAIMER: Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Bhandarkar MR, Khan A. Antihepatotoxic effect of Nymphaea stellata willd., against carbon tetrachloride-induced hepatic damage in albino rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004;91(1):61-64.
Dipasquale R. Nymphaea odorata: white pond lily. Medical herbalism 2000;11(3):6-7.
Emboden WA. Transcultural use of narcotic water lilies in ancient Egyptian and Maya drug ritual. J Ethnopharmacol. 1981;3(1):39-83.
Khan N, Sultana S. Anticarcinogenic effect of Nymphaea alba against oxidative damage, hyperproliferative response and renal carcinogenesis in Wistar rats. Mol.Cell Biochem. 2005;271(1-2):1-11.
Zhang Z, ElSohly HN, Li XC, et al. Phenolic compounds from Nymphaea odorata. J Nat Prod 2003;66(4):548-550.