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Plantain Seed (Che Qian Zi)

What is Plantain Seed (Che Qian Zi)?

Plantain Seed (che qian zi, 车前子), also known as Semen Plantaginis, refers to the mature seed of Plantago asiatica L. or P. depressa Willd., perennial herbaceous plants that belong to the Aginaceae family.

More commonly known as Plantain, these plants are medicinal crops that are widely distributed across the world. Found in early European herbal formulas dating back to the 1500s, Plantain was considered an effective herb that can treat many different conditions from jaundice to haemorrhoids. In fact, the Saxons considered Plantain as one of their nine sacred herbs.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Plantain Seed falls under the category of ‘Herbs that drain Dampness’. Such herbs are typically diuretics, meaning that they can promote the production of urine to remove Dampness that has accumulated in your body. Cool in nature, Plantain Seed can help individuals with too much Heat in their body, such as those experiencing a yang excess or a yin deficiency, to restore a harmonious yin-yang balance.

Sweet in taste, Plantain Seed can slow down acute reactions, detoxify the body and has a tonic effect on the body by replenishing qi and blood. In particular, Plantain Seed targets the Kidneys, Liver, Lungs and small intestines.

Functions and Benefits of Plantain Seed (Che Qian Zi)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Plantain Seed has the following health benefits.

Plantain Seed can regulate water passages and clear accumulated Heat in the bladder. By inducing diuresis,Plantain Seed can relieve stranguria caused by Heat, usually manifested as dribbling or difficult and painful urination. To enhance its treatment effects, Plantain Seed can be combined with other Heat-clearing and Dampness-draining herbs. This herb is also indicated for blood stranguria, urolithic stranguria and chylous stranguria by combining with relevant herbs.

For edema and dysuria caused by water-Damp retention, Plantain Seed can be combined with edema-alleviating diuretics to treat its symptoms. For edema caused by Spleen deficiency or Spleen-Kidney deficiency, Plantain Seed can be combined with Spleen-invigorating and Kidney-tonifying herbs to enhance its effectiveness. This herb is also used to treat Kidney deficiency caused by chronic diseases manifested as heaviness of lumbus and edema of feet.

By inducing diuresis and draining Dampness, Plantain Seed can treat diarrhoea. It is especially suitable for the treatment of watery diarrhoea caused by excessive Dampness. Also, Plantain Seed can clear Liver-Heat to improve vision. For example, Plantain Seed is used to treat blood-shot eyes with swelling and pain due to Liver Heat, and can be combined with Liver-Heat-clearing herbs to enhance its effectiveness.

By clearing Lung-Heat and resolving Phlegm, Plantain Seed can also relieve cough. It is suitable for the treatment of cough caused by Lung Heat manifested as profuse yellow and sticky Phlegm. This herb can be combined with other Lung-Heat-clearing, Phlegm-resolving and cough-relieving herbs to enhance its effectiveness.

How to Use Plantain Seed (Che Qian Zi)

The recommended daily dosage of Plantain Seed is 9 – 15g, when used as a decoction. Plantain Seed is also available in other forms such as powder and pills. 

To treat diarrhoea, Plantain Seed can be used alone or ground into powder and taken with rice water.

Plantain Seed and its supplements, such as pills and powder, may be found in herbal stores and Asian specialty markets.

Cautions and Side Effects of Plantain Seed (Che Qian Zi)

Plantain Seed should not be used by individuals who are not experiencing any Damp-Heat symptoms. Also, individuals who are experiencing pregnancy, spermatorrhea due to Kidney deficiency, polyuria, constipation or exhausted yang should use this herb with caution.

Do note that Plantain Seed may reduce the absorption of oral medications such as lithium. It may also inhibit the absorption of carbohydrates, which then requires the adjustment of insulin dosage in diabetic patients. In addition, Plantain Seed should not be used together with other diuretics as it may lead to dehydration.

We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Plantain Seed to your healthcare routine!


Here is a summary for Plantain Seed:

  • Herb name (Chinese): 车前子
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): chē qián zǐ
  • Herb name (English): Plantain Seed
  • Herb name (Botanical): Semen Plantaginis
  • Origin of species: Plantago asiatica L.; Plantago depressa Willd.
  • Part(s) of herb used: Seed
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Most parts of China
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Sweet; Slightly cold; Administrates the Liver, Kidney, Lung and Small Intestine Meridians
  • Actions: Relieves symptoms of water retention; Eases diarrhoea and related bowel disorders; Relieves eye discomforts and coughs with yellow oral discharge

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