American White Water Lily

Reviewed on 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

Cow Cabbage, Lis d'Eau, Nénuphar Blanc, Nymphaea maximilianii, Nymphaea odorata, Nymphaea rosea, Nymphée Odorante, Pond Lily, Water Cabbage, Water Lily, Water Nymph.


American white water lily is a plant. The bulb and root are used to make medicine.

People take American white water lily to treat ongoing (chronic) diarrhea.

American white water lily is sometimes applied directly to the affected area for vaginal conditions, diseases of the throat and mouth, and as a warm compress (poultice) for burns and boils.

How does it work?

American white water lily contains chemicals called tannins that probably help treat diarrhea by reducing swelling (inflammation). The tannins might also help kill some germs.


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Uses & Effectiveness

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Chronic diarrhea.
  • Vaginal conditions, when applied directly.
  • Diseases of the throat and mouth, when applied directly.
  • Burns and boils, when applied directly.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of American white water lily for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

There isn't enough information to know if American white water lily is safe.


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Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking American white water lily if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.


The appropriate dose of American white water lily depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for American white water lily. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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Dipasquale, R. Nymphaea odorata: white pond lily. Medical herbalism 2000;11(3):6-7.

Emboden, W. A. Transcultural use of narcotic water lilies in ancient Egyptian and Maya drug ritual. J Ethnopharmacol. 1981;3(1):39-83. View abstract.

Khan, N. and 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, H. N., Li, X. C., Khan, S. I., Broedel, S. E., Jr., Raulli, R. E., Cihlar, R. L., Burandt, C., and Walker, L. A. Phenolic compounds from Nymphaea odorata. J Nat Prod 2003;66(4):548-550. View abstract.