The Lotus is not only beautiful. It can help fight depression, anxiety, inflammation, liver damage and help prevent cavities among other things.
Nelumbo nucifera and its flowers, leaves and seeds contain numerous medicinal compounds found individually and in combination to also help fight cancer, help prevent cavities, aide cognition, reduce skin aging and a host of other medicinal properties.
For these reasons, many scientists are now looking at these compounds as potentials for pharmaceutical development. But as we’ve discussed elsewhere, it is the combination of nature’s balanced array of compounds within plant medicines that provides a level of safety unmatched by the single active compounds typically found in synthetic medications.
In this article
The Sacred Lotus Herb
The hypnotic and beautiful Lotus flower is considered a sacred plant in India. It array of flower petals and soft colors are pleasing to the eyes. Depending upon the location and genetics, lotus flowers can be white, pink, yellow or even rainbow-colored.
The leaves, stem, seeds, roots and flowers of the lotus have been used medicinally for thousands of years. The Mandarin name for the Sacred Lotus (seed) is Lian Zi and its Japanese name is Renshi, and in Korean, Yoncha.
Ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic texts indicate the stems and leaves of the plant are helpful for stomach aches, ulcers and intestinal cramping, increasing circulation, and improving the condition of the heart (cardiotonic). It is also known for strengthening the spleen.
The seeds and flowers of the lotus flower – and to a lesser degree the leaves – also have a range of other effects. These include reducing depression and being hypnotic and calming. The seeds contain alkaloid constituents that relax the nerves and the muscles. They also promote sleep. Restlessness and nervousness – even depression – have been treated traditionally using the seeds, flowers and leaves of the Lotus herb.
Then you have the roots of the lotus. These have been used to treat numerous infections, including intestinal infections and diarrhea. The dried roots have also been used for various issues of bleeding as well.
These are not theoretical uses either. These are recorded uses of the plant in clinical settings. Science has been recently confirming these uses.
Anti-depression effects of Lotus
Researchers have confirmed the hypnotic and sedative effects of the lotus plant. In a study recently published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers created extracts from the lotus leaf. They tested neurotransmitter production in the brain after the extract, and found that the alkaloids of the plant increased the production of gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA), along with serotonin, 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid and dopamine.
The researchers stated:
“These data demonstrated that the alkaloids from lotus leaf exert sedative-hypnotic and anxiolytic effects via binding to GABA receptor and activates the monoaminergic system.”
Another study found that an extract of the flower of the Sacred Lotus had elements that bound to several key receptors in the brain and nervous system known for encouraging relaxation: two cannabinoid receptors, and four opioid receptors.
A study from several Japanese universities, including the Yokohama College of Pharmacy extracted two special alkaloids from the Lotus herb: liensinine and isoliensinine. Each of these were found to have anti-depressant effects.
The researchers concluded:
“These data suggest that liensinine and isoliensinine from Nelumbo nucifera Gaertner have antidepressant-like effects and that antidepressant-like effects of liensinine and its analogues are closely related to serotonergic mechanisms.”
Another study found that an extract from Lotus seeds inhibited acetylcholinesterase and butyrylcholinesterase enzymes. Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are used to treat a myriad of conditions, from tachycardia, to Alzheimer’s and other dementias, to Parkinson’s and schizophrenia.
They also found 19 medicinal constituents in the seeds, including saponins, flavonoids, steroids, alkaloids, terpenoids and cardiac glycosides.
Anti-inflammatory benefits of Lotus
Researchers from China and Korea’s Silla University tested lotus leaf extracts in laboratory studies and found that lotus had significant antioxidant properties, as well as significant anti-inflammatory effects. The researchers also found the extracts reduced free radicals among living cells.
The studies found that lotus contained antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds such as baicalein, kaempferol, kaempferid, quercetin, isorhamnetin, hyperoside, lespenephryl, and rutin.
Researchers from Florida’s Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine studied Lotus herb and its various medicinal compounds against cancer, using human cells and laboratory research.
The scientists found that compounds from Lotus reduced tumor size and prevented expansion of human breast cancers. They also reduced cervical cancer, colon cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, eye cancer, stomach cancer, liver cancer and other cancers.
Reduces body fat
Several studies have now found Lotus leaves help reduce obesity. Many of these have been done using lab animals, but some more recent human studies have confirmed this benefit.
For example, in a 2021 study, researchers tested 60 overweight patients in a double-blind trial. Those given dried Lotus leaves over a period of 12 weeks were found to have reduced body fat levels compared to the control group.
This and other studies have shown that Lotus appears to reduce fat conversion.
Protects the Liver
Other research has found that Lotus can significantly reduce liver damage and help protect the liver. Studies have found that the compounds in this herb work to break down chemicals and free radicals before they are able to damage the liver.
For example, a 2022 study found that an extract from Lotus seeds was able to suppress damage to liver cells caused by acetaminophen, a popular over-the-counter painkiller drug known to cause liver damage.
Another study found that Lotus reduces liver fibrosis. This is often the result of the over-consumption of alcohol.
Numerous other effects of Lotus
Continuing research over the past decade has found that Lotus herb produces a number of medicinal effects in the body. These include general anticancer and antioxidant effects, as well as improving the health of the liver, kidney and skin. Some of these effects are simply because Lotus is an extreme free radical scavenger. But other effects follow its complex blend of medicinal constituents.
As this research is analyzed and condensed, we find that Lotus’ additional medicinal benefits include:
• reduces the effects of UV radiation
• has anti-aging effects on the skin
• promotes skin health
• increases wound healing
• enhances cognition
• reduces kidney inflammation
• reduces bacteria that cause cavities and oral infections
• aids diabetes treatment
• reduces triglycerides
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