The Calming and Healing Effects of Sacred Lotus
The hypnotically beautiful Sacred Lotus flower is certainly pleasing to the eyes. Depending upon the location and genetics, lotus flowers can be white, pink, yellow or even rainbow-colored.
Turns out the Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) is not only pleasing to the eyes. The plant contains natural compounds that give it numerous healing powers – to both the body and the mind.
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 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 Sacred Lotus.
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.
Sacred Lotus’ calming effects
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 opiod receptors.
A study from several Japanese universities, including the Yokohama College of Pharmacy extracted two special alkaloids from the Sacred Lotus: 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 Sacred 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.
Numerous medicinal effects of Sacred Lotus
Continuing research over the past decade has found that Sacred Lotus 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 Sacred 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 Sacred Lotus’ additional medicinal benefits include:
• protecting the liver against damage
• reducing liver fibrosis
• reducing the effects of UV radiation
• anti-aging effects on the skin
• inhibiting the growth of several types of cancers
• promoting skin health
• increasing wound healing
• enhancing cognition
• reducing kidney inflammation
• reducing oral infections
• aiding diabetes treatment
• discouraging obesity by reducing fat conversion
• reducing inflammation
Nadkarni KM. The Indian Materia Medica. Prakashan Private Ltd., 1908-1989.
Bensky D, Gamble A, Kaptehuk T. Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica. Eastland Press, 1986.
Kumarihamy M, León F, Pettaway S, Wilson L, Lambert JA, Wang M, Hill C, McCurdy CR, ElSohly MA, Cutler SJ, Muhammad I. In vitro opioid receptor affinity and in vivo behavioral studies of Nelumbo nucifera flower. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 Aug 7:JEPD1501341. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2015.08.006.
Sugimoto Y, Nishimura K, Itoh A, Tanahashi T, Nakajima H, Oshiro H, Sun S, Toda T, Yamada J. Serotonergic mechanisms are involved in antidepressant-like effects of bisbenzylisoquinolines liensinine and its analogs isolated from the embryo of Nelumbo nucifera Gaertner seeds in mice. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2015 Aug 5. doi: 10.1111/jphp.12473.
Yan MZ, Chang Q, Zhong Y, Xiao BX, Feng L, Cao FR, Pan RL, Zhang ZS, Liao YH, Liu XM. Lotus Leaf Alkaloid Extract Displays Sedative-Hypnotic and Anxiolytic Effects through GABAA Receptor. J Agric Food Chem. 2015 Oct 28;63(42):9277-85. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.5b04141.
Chen MS, Zhang JH, Wang JL, Gao L, Chen XX, Xiao JH. Anti-fibrotic effects of neferine on carbon tetrachloride-induced hepatic fibrosis in mice. Am J Chin Med. 2015;43(2):231-40. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X15500159.
Hou Q, He WJ, Chen L, Hao HJ, Liu JJ, Dong L, Tong C, Li MR, Zhou ZZ, Han WD, Fu XB. Effects of the Four-Herb Compound ANBP on Wound Healing Promotion in Diabetic Mice. Int J Low Extrem Wounds. 2015 Mar 20. pii: 1534734615575244
Lee JS, Shukla S, Kim JA, Kim M. Anti-angiogenic effect of Nelumbo nucifera leaf extracts in human umbilical vein endothelial cells with antioxidant potential. PLoS One. 2015 Feb 25;10(2):e0118552. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0118552.
Kim ES, Weon JB, Yun BR, Lee J, Eom MR, Oh KH, Ma CJ. Cognitive Enhancing and Neuroprotective Effect of the Embryo of the Nelumbo nucifera Seed. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:869831. doi: 10.1155/2014/869831.
Wang MX, Liu YL, Yang Y, Zhang DM, Kong LD. Nuciferine restores potassium oxonate-induced hyperuricemia and kidney inflammation in mice. Eur J Pharmacol. 2015 Jan 15;747:59-70. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2014.11.035.
Hou Q, He WJ, Hao HJ, Han QW, Chen L, Dong L, Liu JJ, Li X, Zhang YJ, Ma YZ, Han WD, Fu XB. The four-herb Chinese medicine ANBP enhances wound healing and inhibits scar formation via bidirectional regulation of transformation growth factor pathway. PLoS One. 2014 Dec 9;9(12):e112274. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112274.
Liu CM, Kao CL, Wu HM, Li WJ, Huang CT, Li HT, Chen CY. Antioxidant and anticancer aporphine alkaloids from the leaves of Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn. cv. Rosa-plena. Molecules. 2014 Nov 3;19(11):17829-38. doi: 10.3390/molecules191117829.
Yuan L, Gu X, Yin Z, Kang W. Antioxidant activities in vitro and hepatoprotective effects of Nelumbo nucifera leaves in vivo. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2014 Apr 3;11(3):85-91.
Mehta VV, Rajesh G, Rao A, Shenoy R, B H MP. Antimicrobial Efficacy of Punica granatum mesocarp, Nelumbo nucifera Leaf, Psidium guajava Leaf and Coffea Canephora Extract on Common Oral Pathogens: An In-vitro Study. J Clin Diagn Res. 2014 Jul;8(7):ZC65-8. doi: 10.7860/JCDR/2014/9122.4629.
Marwat SK, Rehman F, Khan EA, Khakwani AA, Ullah I, Khan KU, Khan IU. Useful ethnophytomedicinal recipes of angiosperms used against diabetes in South East Asian Countries (India, Pakistan & Sri Lanka). Pak J Pharm Sci. 2014 Sep;27(5):1333-58.
Liu SH, Lu TH, Su CC, Lay IS, Lin HY, Fang KM, Ho TJ, Chen KL, Su YC, Chiang WC, Chen YW. Lotus leaf (Nelumbo nucifera) and its active constituents prevent inflammatory responses in macrophages via JNK/NF-κB signaling pathway. Am J Chin Med. 2014;42(4):869-89. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X14500554.
You JS, Lee YJ, Kim KS, Kim SH, Chang KJ. Ethanol extract of lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) root exhibits an anti-adipogenic effect in human pre-adipocytes and anti-obesity and anti-oxidant effects in rats fed a high-fat diet. Nutr Res. 2014 Mar;34(3):258-67. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2014.01.003.
Lee DB, Kim DH, Je JY. Antioxidant and Cytoprotective Effects of Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) Leaves Phenolic Fraction. Prev Nutr Food Sci. 2015 Mar;20(1):22-8. doi: 10.3746/pnf.2015.20.1.22.
Velusami CC, Agarwal A, Mookambeswaran V. Effect of Nelumbo nucifera Petal Extracts on Lipase, Adipogenesis, Adipolysis, and Central Receptors of Obesity. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:145925. doi: 10.1155/2013/145925.
Ahn YJ, Park SJ, Woo H, Lee HE, Kim HJ, Kwon G, Gao Q, Jang DS, Ryu JH. Effects of allantoin on cognitive function and hippocampal neurogenesis. Food Chem Toxicol. 2014 Feb;64:210-6. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2013.11.033.
Zhao X, Shen J, Chang KJ, Kim SH. Analysis of fatty acids and phytosterols in ethanol extracts of Nelumbo nucifera seeds and rhizomes by GC-MS. J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Jul 17;61(28):6841-7. doi: 10.1021/jf401710h.
Zhao XL, Wang ZM, Ma XJ, Jing WG, Liu A. [Chemical constituents from leaves of Nelumbo nucifera]. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2013 Mar;38(5):703-8.
Jung SY, Jung WS, Jung HK, Lee GH, Cho JH, Cho HW, Choi IY. The mixture of different parts of Nelumbo nucifera and two bioactive components inhibited tyrosinase activity and melanogenesis. J Cosmet Sci. 2014 Nov-Dec;65(6):377-88.
Kim SY, Moon GS. Photoprotective Effect of Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn.) Seed Tea against UVB Irradiation. Prev Nutr Food Sci. 2015 Sep;20(3):162-8. doi: 10.3746/pnf.2015.20.3.162.
Jadoon S, Karim S, Asad MH, Akram MR, Kalsoom Khan A, Malik A, Chen C, Murtaza G. Anti-Aging Potential of Phytoextract Loaded-Pharmaceutical Creams for Human Skin Cell Longetivity. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2015;2015:709628. doi: 10.1155/2015/709628. Epub 2015 Sep 10.