The lotus leaf (Nelumbo nucifera) is an aquatic perennial that is closely related to the common water lily (Nelumbo lutea). This plant has white flowers with light green leaves and grows throughout the tropical regions of Asia and the Middle East. Known by many other names including the sacred lotus, Indian lotus, Chinese arrowroot, and Egyptian bean, it has an extensive history. In fact, the sacred lotus has been used as a medicinal herb for thousands of years.
The lotus is popular among various cultures worldwide, depicted in folklore, religion, literature, and art; and has long since been considered sacred by Buddhists, Hindus, and Egyptians. The lotus leaf is the object of meditation in Buddhism. The Hindus believe that Brahma, creator and God of the universe, sprang from a lotus blossom. Egyptians liken the plant with the sun, as its flowers open in the morning and close at night. It is also seen as a symbol of resurrection.
The entire lotus plant has been used in Chinese medicine for treating everything from diarrhea to bleeding ulcers. Lotus leaves were also highly regarded as a weight-loss cure, as the plant is a diuretic. One of the main functions of the lotus leaf plant is to stop bleeding associated with excessive menstruation, hemorrhoids, and vomiting of blood. All parts of the plant can be used as an astringent and cardio tonic. In addition, lotus is employed as a treatment for mushroom poisoning.
Used with other herbs, the plant can help treat sunstroke, fever, diarrhea, and dizziness. Lotus leaf is also become popular for lowering blood lipids and treating liver conditions, such as jaundice. An active ingredient found in the lotus plant, called nuciferine, is also thought to help reduce muscle spasms. Other conditions that the lotus leaf has been used to treat include leprosy, parasites, ringworm, and sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis.
Parts of the lotus are prepared in many ways. For instance, the leaves are often used fresh as a poultice, and lotus leaf extract is derived from the dried leaves. The flower petals and leaves are also commonly made into a mild tea, which is slightly bitter. They can be used as a garnish or added to soups as well.
Dried lotus leaf is available at many herbal shops. Additionally, the plant can be found in pill, powder, and capsule form. Lotus is considered safe and has no known negative side effects.