Lotus - western medicine

Lotus is not commonly used in western medicine. Recent scientific research has been conducted on the chemical and medicinal properties of various parts of the lotus plant. Results support its use in traditional medicine.

Science supporting traditional uses

Scientific research on lotus provides evidence in support of many of its traditional medicinal uses to treat diarrhoea, fungal infections, fevers and conditions skin. Alcohol extracts of the rhizomes have also been shown to display as many as seven different kinds of therapeutic activity. The most notable is its anti-bacterial activity and hence use for the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhoea and syphilis. Rheumatoid arthritis is also reported to respond well to treatment with lotus, as do certain kinds of diabetes.

Preliminary studies on the ancient lotus seeds report the presence of an enzyme called L-isoaspartyl methyltransferase which may play a role in anti-ageing through their repair of proteins. If substantiated by further studies this would support the long-held traditional belief among Asian cultures that lotus is the symbol for fertility and re-birth.

Safety

Little is known about the toxicity of the different parts of lotus and it is generally considered a safe plant which is widely used as a food. Although an alkaloid known to affect the heart called nelumbine occurs in the leaves, fruit stalks and seeds, no cases of adverse reaction have been found in the literature.

This information is provided for general interest only. It is not intended as guidance for medicinal use. Further information on using herbal medicines is available.