1.1 What is a lotus?
The lotus (botanical name: Nelumbo nucifera, also known as Indian lotus, sacred lotus, bean of India, Egyptian bean; Chinese Pinyin: Lian, Simplified Chinese: 莲), is a species of perennial, aquatic, flowering, fruit-bearing, herbaceous plant in genus Nelumbo in the sacred lotus family, Nelumbonaceae. The flowers are white, pink, deep red, gold or yellow, lavender (usually a mixture of them), 10 – 20 cm in diameter, with varied numbers of petals. The lotus flowers, seeds, young leaves as well as it rhizomes (roots) can all be used for food. The plant can grow up to 150 cm tall. Native to tropical Asia and extensively cultivated in Asia, habitats of lotus include muddy waters, ponds, swamps, water gardens and lakes. Characteristics of lotus include intolerance for shade and wind, great versatility and deep root and rhizomes.
1.2 How does lotus leaves taste?
Fresh and young lotus leaf is slightly sweet in taste with some bitterness. Dry lotus leaves are often used to add a fresh earthy tea scent to steamed foods (such as rice and dumplings).
1.3 How is lotus leaves used in traditional Chinese medicine?
The leaves of lotus are considered to be bitter, neutral and nontoxic in nature and to be associated with the liver, spleen and stomach meridians. It is used as heat-clearing drug, bacteriostatic agent and antispasmodic in traditional Chinese medicine (CTM) and widely adopted in treating different diseases and health problems, such as watery diarrhea.
2. Uses, Health Benefits of Lotus & Medical Formulas
The free radical theory of aging assumes that oxygen-derived free radicals are responsible for the age-related damage at the cellular and tissue levels. In a young and health body, a balanced-equilibrium exists among oxidants, antioxidants and biomolecules. Excess generation of free radicals may overwhelm natural cellular antioxidant defences leading to oxidation and further contributing to cellular functional impairment. Free radicals have long been linked with causing the aging process, which is the most serious type of damage free radicals do to our body. Lotus leaves are packed with antioxidants which can fight free radicals and help to reduce the risk of cell damage, subsequent diseases and even slow the aging process.
2.2 Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a common disease in which blood flows through blood vessels (arteries) at higher than normal pressures. The exact causes of high blood pressure are still unknown, but several factors and conditions are positively associated with high blood pressure, such as smoking, obese and lack of exercise. Lotus leaves are rich in dietary fiber which is the nutrients in the diet that cannot be digested by gastrointestinal enzymes in our body but still fulfil an important role in ensuring body health. A research published in Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that daily intake of 30 grams of dietary fiber may help to lose weight, lower blood pressure, and improve our body’s response to insulin (harvard.edu 2015).
2.3 Remove Body Dampness
Lotus leaf tea is a calming decoction that is said to benefit several organs and conditions that are categorized by what traditional Chinese medicine calls “dampness”. The symptoms of body “dampness” include sensation of heaviness, sensation of fullness, spleen dysfunction, greasy tongue and palpitations. Lotus leaf tea can serve as a remedy that expels body dampness, alleviates restlessness and the above mentioned symptoms.
2.4 Skin Health
[CTM Formula] Ointment made with ash of lotus leaves and sesame oil is applied externally to treat impetigo (also known as infantigo), a highly contagious skin infection that most commonly affects children and infants.
[CTM Formula] A decoction of lotus leaves is taken orally to treat acute, watery diarrhea.
3. Contraindication, Side-effects & Cautions
Administration with caution for pregnant women, the infirm, and people experiencing vital energy (qi) and blood deficiency.
The Ben Cao Medical Book (also known as Compendium of Materia Medica or Ben Cao Gang Mu; Chinese: 本草纲目) is the most famous and comprehensive medical book ever written in the history of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Compiled and written by Li Shi-zhen (1518~1593), a medical expert of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) over 27 years.
The Ben Cao Medical Book records and describes all the plants, animals, minerals, and other objects that were believed to have medicinal properties in TCM. The book reflects the pharmaceutical achievements and developments of East Asia before the 16th century. On the basis of his predecessors’ achievements in the pharmacological studies, Li contributed further by supplementing and rectifying many past mistakes and misconception in relate to nature of many medicinal substances and causes of various illnesses. Charles Darwin, originator of the biological theory of evolution, regards the book as the “ancient Chinese encyclopedia”.
Disclaimer: The Ben Cao Medical Book is translated by ChinaAbout.net. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of CTM knowledge and information from the research and experience from the author Li Shi-zhen. Kindly be alert that the CTM knowledge and ancient formulas given above are likely NOT medically proven and may contain misconceptions.