Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
Adenine, alkaloids, aporphine, arbutin, ascorbic acid, asimilobine, astragalin, bean of India, benzylisoquinoline, beta-ionone, beta-sitosterol glucopyranoside, bisbenzylisoquinoline alkaloids, carbohydrates, catechin, chungyang, coclaurine, flavonoids, gallic acid, garam, geranyl acetone, hexahydrofarnesyl acetone, hyperin, hyperoside, inchisa, Indian lotus, isoliensinine, isoquercetin, isorhamnetin glycosides, kaempferol, lian fang, lian xu, lian zi, liensinine, lirinidine, lotus leaf extract, lotusine, methyl gallate, muan, myo-inositol, neferine, negferine, Nelumbium spp., Nelumbo spp., Nelumbonaceae (family), norcoclaurine, nuciferine, nuciferone, O-nornuciferine, pentadecyl acrylate, phenolics, procyanidins, pronuciferine, quercetin, red lotus, rutin, sacred lotus, sacred water-lily, saponins, triterpenoids, tryptophan, vitamins.
Note: This monograph does not include plants from the Lotus or Nymphaea genera, as these are distantly related plants from other plant families.
Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) has been used throughout Egypt, the Middle East, India, and China since ancient times, primarily as a food, but also as a medicine. The flowers, seeds, leaves, fruit, 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-fries.
Lotus flowers, leaves, seeds, and fruit have been used traditionally to treat a variety of conditions, including diarrhea, abnormal bleeding, poor digestion, fever, and insomnia. There is not enough scientific research on the use of lotus for treatment of any condition.
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.
No available studies qualify for inclusion in the evidence table.
*Key to grades:A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. 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 health care professional.
Abdominal cramps, agitated behavior, antibacterial, antioxidant, antiviral, appetite suppressant, arrhythmia (irregular heart beat), astringent, blood circulation, blood thinner, cancer, cardiotonic (increases strength and tone of the heart), contraception, cough, dental caries (cavities), diabetes, diarrhea, diuretic (increases urine flow), edema (swelling), enteritis (inflammation of the small intestine), epistasis (gene interaction), excessive menstrual bleeding, fever reducer, gastric ulcers (bleeding), hemolytic anemia, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, immune function, indigestion, inflammation, insomnia, liver protection, metabolic enhancement, muscle relaxant (smooth muscle), obesity, palpitations, postpartum hemorrhage, premature ejaculation, skin diseases, steatohepatitis (inflamed liver), stress, styptic (stops bleeding), sunstroke, tonic, urinary difficulties, uterine bleeding, vaginal discharge (bloody), vasodilator (dilates blood vessels), vertigo (dizziness), weight loss.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older):
There is no proven safe or effective dose for lotus in adults.
Children (younger than 18 years):
There is no proven safe or effective dose for lotus in children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid with known allergy or hypersensitivity to lotus, its constituents, or related species from the Nelumbonaceae family.
Side Effects and Warnings
Lotus may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
Lotus may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
Lotus may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients with low blood pressure and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that lower blood pressure.
Drowsiness or sedation may occur. Use caution if driving or operating heavy machinery or if taking sedatives or CNS depressants.
Use cautiously in patients with constipation and stomach distension (swelling).
Use cautiously in patients taking drugs, herbs, or supplements to treat arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).
Use cautiously in women trying to become pregnant.
Avoid in pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Avoid with known allergy or hypersensitivity to lotus, its constituents, or related species from the Nelumbonaceae family.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Lotus is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to a lack of available scientific evidence.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
Lotus may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking insulin or drugs for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Lotus 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, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
Lotus may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking drugs that lower blood pressure.
Lotus may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some drugs. Examples include benzodiazepines such as lorazepam (Ativan®) or diazepam (Valium®), barbiturates such as phenobarbital, narcotics such as codeine, some antidepressants, CNS depressants, sedatives, and alcohol. Caution is advised while driving or operating machinery.
Lotus may also interact with antibiotics, anticancer agents, anti-inflammatory agents, antiobesity agents, antivirals, calcium channel blockers, cholesterol-lowering agents, drugs that affect the gastrointestinal system, drugs that affect the immune system, drugs that may damage the liver, drugs that treat irregular heartbeat, fertility agents, fever reducers, and laxatives.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Lotus may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
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 cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.
Lotus may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some herbs or supplements such as sedatives.
Lotus may also interact with antibacterials, anticancer agents, anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements, antiobesity agents, antioxidants, antivirals, cardiac glycosides, cholesterol-lowering herbs and supplements, fertility agents, fever reducers, herbs and supplements that affect the cardiovascular system, herbs and supplements that affect the gastrointestinal system, herbs and supplements that affect the immune system, herbs and supplements that may damage the liver, herbs and supplements that treat irregular heartbeat, and laxatives.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
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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Cho EJ, Yokozawa T, Rhyu DY, et al. Study on the inhibitory effects of Korean medicinal plants and their main compounds on the 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl radical. Phytomedicine. 2003;10(6-7):544-551. View Abstract
Huang CJ, Wu MC. Differential effects of foods traditionally regarded as 'heating' and 'cooling' on prostaglandin E(2) production by a macrophage cell line. J Biomed.Sci 2002;9(6 Pt 2):596-606. View Abstract
Jung HA, Kim JE, Chung HY, et al. Antioxidant principles of Nelumbo nucifera stamens. Arch Pharm Res 2003;26(4):279-285. View Abstract
Kashiwada Y, Aoshima A, Ikeshiro Y, et al. Anti-HIV benzylisoquinoline alkaloids and flavonoids from the leaves of Nelumbo nucifera, and structure-activity correlations with related alkaloids. Bioorg.Med Chem 1-17-2005;13(2):443-448. View Abstract
Kuo YC, Lin YL, Liu CP, et al. Herpes simplex virus type 1 propagation in HeLa cells interrupted by Nelumbo nucifera. J Biomed.Sci 2005;12(6):1021-1034. View Abstract
Ling ZQ, Xie BJ, Yang EL. Isolation, characterization, and determination of antioxidative activity of oligomeric procyanidins from the seedpod of Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn. J Agric.Food Chem 4-6-2005;53(7):2441-2445. View Abstract
Liu CP, Tsai WJ, Lin YL, et al. The extracts from Nelumbo Nucifera suppress cell cycle progression, cytokine genes expression, and cell proliferation in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Life Sci. 6-25-2004;75(6):699-716. View Abstract
Masuda J, Urakawa T, Ozaki Y, et al. Short photoperiod induces dormancy in Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera). Ann Bot (Lond) 2006;97(1):39-45. View Abstract
Mukherjee PK, Mukherjee D, Maji AK, et al. The sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) - phytochemical and therapeutic profile. J Pharm Pharmacol 2009;61(4):407-22.View Abstract
Qian JQ. Cardiovascular pharmacological effects of bisbenzylisoquinoline alkaloid derivatives. Acta Pharmacol.Sin. 2002;23(12):1086-1092. View Abstract
Rai S, Wahile A, Mukherjee K, et al. Antioxidant activity of Nelumbo nucifera (sacred lotus) seeds. J Ethnopharmacol. 4-6-2006;104(3):322-327. View Abstract
Sohn DH, Kim YC, Oh SH, et al. Hepatoprotective and free radical scavenging effects of Nelumbo nucifera. Phytomedicine. 2003;10(2-3):165-169. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
March 22, 2017