The Power of the Lotus

The powerful lotus plant has been used in East and South East Asian traditional medicine and cuisine for centuries. The lotus’ long history has earned it the title of India’s national flower and a symbol of purity in Buddhist and Hindu traditions.

A bowl-shaped perennial, the lotus is often confused with water lilies. There are over 100 species of lotus, but you’re probably most familiar with the white single-flower lotus, which has around two-dozen petals. Other types include the double-flowered lotus, which can have over 100 petals, as well as pink and red varieties.

Although this plant goes back generations, the science behind its medicinal potential has only recently come under study. What kinds of conditions might this flower be able to treat?

1. Soothe your stomach. One of the lotus’ most common uses in traditional Chinese medicine is stopping diarrhea. To try this natural remedy, soak lotus seeds in warm water for a few hours and then add rock sugar until you find a taste you like.

Note: People suffering from constipation should avoid using lotus.

2. Lower your blood sugar and cholesterol. Lotus root contains both fiber and complex carbohydrates. These two components work together to help manage your body’s cholesterol and blood sugar and help maintain a slow and steady digestive process.

3. Relieve inflammation. Inflammation is usually accompanied by a sensation of heat. It’s an uncomfortable side effect or symptom of many conditions. It can also be caused by trauma, chemical exposure, or physical injury.

Recent research suggests that the seeds of both red and white lotus varieties could help reduce inflammation. A 2013 study found that two polysaccharides in lotus plumule have significant anti-inflammatory effects and show promise as a base for future treatment.

Did You Know?
  • There are over 100 varieties of lotus.
  • The flowers, leaves, and seeds of the lotus plant are all edible.
  • Like most alternative treatments, scientific study is still in its beginning stages.

4. How about some lotus for lunch? The stem of the lotus plant is full of minerals and nutrients — such as vitamin C — that are important for your body’s day-to-day function. One of these minerals is potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure.

How to cook it: Boil lotus roots for 10 minutes and then eat them to receive a healthy dose of nutrients. Lotus root is a common ingredient in many Asian dishes and can be prepared in practically every way.

5. No more acne? If you struggle with acne, lotus might be able to help. Sebum is the waxy substance that can cause acne breakouts when it builds up and clogs your skin’s pores. According to 2013 research, adding lotus to green tea can significantly reduce the amount of sebum that your glands produce.

6. Ease your period. Lotus leaves and root extracts have been used in traditional Chinese medicine to help regulate the menstrual cycle and stop excess bleeding. There isn’t a lot of scientific research to back these claims, but some practitioners suggest that drinking lotus root juice or lotus soup can help you avoid anemia after menstruation by building blood to replace what was lost.

7. Do you have a cough? Put a traditional practice to the test by following the recommendation of this recent study, which suggests mixing lotus seed powder with honey to soothe your cough.

8. Could lotus be a cancer cure? Research conducted in 2014 found that neferine, an organic compound in the lotus seed embryo, has the potential to kill and hinder the spread of lung cancer cells. This suggests a possible future in the treatment of this deadly disease.

The Takeaway

The lotus is a beautiful symbol of healing. The flower is certainly not new to medicine, but scientific research is still underway to uncover how this powerful plant works and new ways to put it to use.

Consider trying a simple lotus remedy or supplement for a natural healing approach. As with all herbal remedies, be sure to talk to your doctor before including lotus in your daily regimen. It may interact with various medications and health conditions.