The rhizome of the alisma plant, also known as water plantain, is prescribed by herbalists to treat malfunctions of the kidney and bladder. Alisma is often prescribed as a diuretic (a substance that releases body fluids), and this effect may stem from a high concentration of potassium, a mineral that helps to flush out urine. Since its action is mild and it does not dry out the body excessively, alisma can be taken by weak, elderly patients for whom other such medications are too strong. The herb is classified as cold, bland and sweet in traditional Chinese medicine. Literally translated as "marsh drain," alisma grows in the swamps of China's Fujian, Jianxi and Sichuan provinces. The best quality of fresh herb is a lustrous, powdery, white plant.
Alisma is available in bulk form at Chinese pharmacies, Asian food markets and Western health food stores. It can be purchased by the ounce.
Combinations: In a mixture with grains-of-paradise fruit, alisma may be prescribed for patients with distended stomachs and abdomens who also have low production of urine. Consult a Chinese herbalist for information on specific dosages and additional herbal combinations.