Drugs A - Z
Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)
Generic Name: Lotus
CategoryHerbs & Supplements
Alkaloids, aporphine, asimilobine, bean of India, benzylisoquinoline, beta-sitosterol glucopyranoside, bisbenzylisoquinoline alkaloids, carbohydrates, coclaurine, flavonoids, gallic acid, Indian lotus, isoliensinine, kaempferol, lian fang, lian xu, lian zi, liensinine, lirinidine, lotusine, methyl gallate, neferine, negferine, Nelumbium speciosum Willd., Nelumbo nucifera, Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn., Nelumbonaceae (family), norcoclaurine, nuciferine, phenolics, procyanidins, pronuciferine, quercetin, red lotus, sacred lotus, sacred water-lily, saponins.
Note: This monograph does not include plants from the Lotus or Nymphaea genera, as these are distantly related plants from other botanical families.
Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) has been used throughout Egypt, the Middle East, India and China since ancient times, primarily as a food, but also for gastrointestinal and bleeding related disorders. The flowers, seeds, leaves, and rhizomes of the lotus are all edible. The petals of the flower are used as a wrap for foods in Asia and the rhizome is a common ingredient in soups and stir-fry.
The lotus flower has been used as a medicinal herb for generations in Asia. Lotus leaf juices alone are used for diarrhea and sunstroke when mixed with licorice. The flower is used for abdominal cramps, bloody discharges, bleeding gastric ulcers, excessive menstruation and post-partum hemorrhage. The flower stamens of the lotus are used in urinary frequency, premature ejaculation, hemolysis (the breakdown of red blood cells), epistasis (gene interaction) and uterine bleeding.
The fruit is used for agitation and fever. Lotus seed has been shown to lower cholesterol levels and to relax the smooth muscle of the uterus. It has been used for poor digestion, enteritis (inflammation of the small intestine), chronic diarrhea, insomnia, and palpitations. Currently, there is not enough scientific evidence to recommend the use of lotus for any indication.
EvidenceDISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
TraditionWARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Abdominal cramps, agitated behavior, antipyretic (fever reducer), astringent, vaginal discharge (bloody), cardiotonic (increases strength and tone of the heart), chronic diarrhea, contraception, diarrhea, enteritis (inflammation of small intestine), epistasis (gene interaction), gastric ulcers (bleeding), hemolysis (breakdown of red blood cells), hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), hypertension (high blood pressure), indigestion, inflammation (tissue), insomnia, menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding), muscle relaxant (smooth muscle), palpitations, postpartum hemorrhage, premature ejaculation, resolvent (reduces swelling), styptic (stops bleeding), sunstroke, tonic (stomach), urinary difficulties, uterine bleeding, vasodilator (dilates blood vessels).
Adults (18 years and older):
There is no proven safe or effective dose for lotus in adults, and use is not recommended.
Children (younger than 18 years):
There is no proven safe or effective dose for lotus in children, and use is not recommended.
SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to lotus (Nelumbo nucifera).
Side Effects and Warnings
Few adverse effects in humans have been reported for lotus. Lotus may cause flatulence (gas), constipation and other gastrointestinal irritation. Avoid in patients with constipation and stomach distension (swelling).
Theoretically, lotus may lower blood pressure and have antiarrhythmic (treats abnormal heart beat) and contraceptive activity. Lotus may also increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or taking agents that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Interactions with Drugs
Alkaloids isolated from lotus have been noted to have anti-arrhythmic activity and may interact with anti-arrhythmic drugs. Patients taking medications aimed at maintaining sinus rhythm and suppressing atrial fibrillation should use lotus cautiously as the effects may be additive.
Neferine from Nelumbo nucifera may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants ("blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
Theoretically, lotus may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Although not well studied in humans, lotus may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Theoretically, lotus may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
Lotus may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes (high blood sugar) or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Serum glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
Alkaloids isolated from Nelumbo nucifera, including liensinine, daurisoline and neferine, have been noted to have anti-arrhythmic activity (treats irregular heartbeat). Patients taking herbs and supplements aimed at maintaining sinus rhythm and suppressing atrial fibrillation should use lotus cautiously as the effects may be additive.
Lotus may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements that may lower blood pressure.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature, and was peer-reviewed and edited by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): Rebecca Bramwell, PharmD (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy); Nicole Giese, MS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Sooyoun Kang, PharmD (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy); Erica Seamon, PharmD (Nova Southeastern University); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD (Massachusetts General Hospital); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration).
BibliographyDISCLAIMER: Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
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Wu S, Sun C, Cao X, et al. Preparative counter-current chromatography isolation of liensinine and its analogues from embryo of the seed of Nelumbo nucifera GAERTN. using upright coil planet centrifuge with four multilayer coils connected in series. J Chromatogr.A 7-2-2004;1041(1-2):153-162.
Wu, M. J., Wang, L., Weng, C. Y., and Yen, J. H. Antioxidant activity of methanol extract of the lotus leaf (Nelumbo nucifera Gertn.). Am.J.Chin Med. 2003;31(5):687-698.
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Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.