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Nymphaea odorata : White pond lily

by Robin Dipasquale

Medical Herbalism 11(3):6-7

Synonyms: Nymphaea alba, Nuphar alba, Water-lily, white pond lily, sweet pond lily, water nymph

Asian species: Nymphaea lotus (N. rubra, N.stellata); Nelumbo nucifera (Nymphaea nelumbo, Nelumbium speciosum); Nuphar japonicum, Nuphar pumilum]

Part used: rhizome (gather in the fall), seed, flower for EO

Taste: mucilaginous, slightly pungent, slightly bitter

Constituents: Tannic acid and Gallic acid - anti microbial and astringent

Alkaloids - bitter taste, typically the most potent and [potentially] toxic aspect of a plant. May act on the CNS

Mucilage, sterols, flavonoids, glycosides also present.

Actions: Antiseptic, astringent to mucus membranes, removes toxins from the tissue, not overly drying, styptic, demulcent, vulnerary - healing to skin wounds and ulcerative conditions, tonifying - improving tone and function, anodyne, anti-inflammatory - internally and externally

Culpepper says this plant is under the influence of the moon, indicating cooling, moistening, and yin promoting properties.

Preparations and their dosages according to Dr. Christopher

decoction - 1-2 tbsp. or more

fluid extract - 1/2-1 fluid tsp. (30-60 drops) infusion - 2-4 tbsp. 3-4 times/day between meals powder - 2 grams (1/2 tsp.)

tincture - 1/2-1 fluid tsp. (30-60 drops)

Both Michael Moore and Professor John King suggest larger doses of the decoction - 2-8 cups/day - plus douche

In addition to application with a douche, White pond lily can be used internally, as a gargle, or poultice.

Juliette de Bairacli Levy states that the preparation of the root is to slice it, place in cold water, heat gently for 5 minutes (in order to preserve the mucilage properties, do not bring to a boil ).


Keep in mind the cooling and moistening actions.

inflammation of the uterus, prolapse of uterus, relaxed vagina - internal p0 dosage plus vaginal injection

leukorrhea - decoction or infusion as vaginal injection

catarrh of the bladder, lingering congestion (decoction)

kidney disorders (decoction)

prostate irritation, chronic with gummy discharge (decoction)

mouth and throat subacute and chronic inflammation periodontal disease, thrush, canker sores, tonsillitis, pharyngitis

poultice of roots and leaves topically, powder of root with flax seed ground and slippery elm, or decoction or infusion as a gargle.

ulcerations including venereal ulcers (powdered root dusted on the surface)

stagnation and swelling in lymphatic structures

sore eyes, opthalmia ( infusion as a wash)

wounds, cuts - leaves bruised and applied directly

sunburn - leaves or flowers wll decrease heat and swelling

menstrual cycle complaints, can clear pelvic congestion, alleviate PMS and ease menstrual flow

used to pacify the pita dosha in ayurveda

in TCM, aids the liver, lung, and stomach meridian and in controlling bleeding

Homeopathic proving showed the following results: Mentals: excessive moral sensibility, pain on witnessing the suffering of animals, great impatience at slightest contradiction.

Physical weakness, restlessness, diminution of strength, headache, weariness in stomach, slow digestion, wind colic, diarrhea in early a.m., impotence or excessive sexual desire, sexual exhaustion, aggravated from sex, especially in males, nocturnal emissions.

Matthew Wood speaks of Nymphaea odorata and its actions being related to the TCM diagnosis of Kidney Yin Deficiency. Fluid is Yin and a deficiency of fluid would result in the inability of the body to cool and moisten itself. This excess heat condition can bring about irritation, over excitement, night sweats, diarrhea, and loss of sexual fluids. Weakness and debility of the isolated area or of the whole being would result.

The Menomini Indians believed the Nymphaea odorata and other pond lilies belong to the spirit of the underneath, the underworld. The underwater horned serpent is the symbol for the primal waters of the world. The Menomini Indians believed the water lily generated the fog hovering over lakes. This is representative of the water lily bringing the forces from below and the forces from above together to make visions of importance.

The water lily is able to bring together the earth energy where it has its roots, the air element where the leaves and flowers reside, and the water element, the pathway of the stems. In our bodies, the integration of the earth element from our root chakra with the air and ether element from the higher chakras may be assisted by the water lily through balancing the water element. The heart, which resides along the pathway, must be open.

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