White water lily (Nymphaea odorata)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
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.
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.
No available studies qualify for inclusion in the evidence table.
*Key to grades:A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. 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 health care professional.
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.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
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.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
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
White water lily is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
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.
White water lily tinctures may contain high alcohol content. Patients should not take disulfiram (Antabuse®) or metronidazole (Flagyl®) with alcohol due to an increase in unwanted side effects.
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 edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
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. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
Zhang Z, ElSohly HN, Li XC, et al. Phenolic compounds from Nymphaea odorata. J Nat Prod 2003;66(4):548-550. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
March 22, 2017