Lotus seed is also known as lotus nut or Lian Zi. According to legend, consuming it could make people become immortal and young. Of course that is just a fairy tale and claim like that is totally groundless. However, it is true that it has a variety of longevity-related medicinal properties, such as tranquilizing mind, nourishing the heart, improving brain health, increasing mentality, and eliminating fatigue. And all the above-mentioned functions were well documented in many ancient medical books, such as The Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing (The Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica Classic), Ben Cao Shi Yi (Supplement to Materia Medica), Ben Cao Gang Mu (Compendium of Materia Medica), and Ben Cao Bei Yao (Complete Essentials of the Materia Medica). Modern pharmacological studies have also confirmed that lotus seeds have sedative, cardiotonic, anti-aging and other effects.
What is lotus seed?
As the name implies, it refers to the mature seeds of Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn., which is a plant in the family nymphaeaceae. Its scientific name is Semen Nelumbinis. In China place of origin include Hunan, Fujian, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang. Habitats are ponds and lakes. The lotus seed pods are harvested in autumn when the fruits are ripe. And then take the seeds out, remove the peel, dry, and use raw. And nowadays on the market people can find many lotus flower seeds products, such as lotus seed tea, oil, tincture, mooncake, kheer, flour, congee, dessert, curry, candy, drink, extract, paste, and so on.
Lotus nut is slightly elliptical or spherical, 1.2 to 1.8cm long, and 0.8 to 1.4cm wide. Surface is from yellowish brown to reddish brown, with fine vertical stripes and wide veins. The center of one end looks like papillae, dark brown, with a few gaps and slight subsidence around. It is hard and with thin peel that is hard to remove. Embryo has 2 Cotyledons. They are yellow-white, fleshy, with gaps in the middle that contains green lotus plumule. It is odorless, sweet, and slightly astringent. And lotus plumule is bitter.
Lotus seed benefits
First of all, let’s take a close look at its nutrition facts. It contains large amounts of starch and raffinose, 16.6% protein, 2.0% fat, 62% carbohydrate, 0.089% calcium, 0.285% phosphorus, and 0.0064% Fe. In addition, it also contains β-Sitosterol, β-Sitosterol fatty ester, vitamin C, glucose, chlorophyll, palmitic acid and glutathione.
It is rich in calcium, phosphorus and potassium, which are the main components that form bones and teeth. Besides, they promote blood clotting, activate some certain enzymes, maintain nerve conduction, calm nerves, and maintain muscle flexibility and heartbeat rhythm, and so on. As a major component of nuclear protein, phosphorus can helps the body metabolize the protein, fat, and carbohydrate, maintain the acid-base balance, and play an important role on the formation of the sperm.
Lotus seeds have sedative effect, which can be of great help for the middle-aged and elderly, especially mental workers, since it can improve brain function, enhance memory, improve work efficiency, and prevent the occurrence of senile dementia. Lotus plumule tastes really bitter but has a significant cardiac effect, which can expand peripheral vessel and thus lower blood pressure. In addition, it is good at clearing heart-fire, treating mouth sores, and helping sleep.
Modern pharmacological actions of lotus seeds
1. The oxoushinsunine has inhibitory effect on nasopharynx cancer (NPC);
2. The non-crystalline alkaloid N-9 can lower blood pressure; 3. The alkaloids are with significant cardiac effects;
4. The liensinine has strong anti-calcium and antiarrhythmic effects;
5. The raffinose is a tonic for both young and old, especially for bedridden patients, postpartum woman, or the frail elderly;
6. The liensinine can control sexual desire. That’s to say, it can arrest seminal emission, which is beneficial to those young people with too much dreaming and frequent involuntary emission of semen at night;
7. The lotus seed with plumule can clear heart fire and get rid of freckles.
Selected lotus seed recipes on herbal remedies
Traditional Chinese medicine defines that it is sweet in flavor and astringent and neutral in properties. And it goes to 6 meridians, including heart, spleen, kidney, stomach, liver, and bladder. Chief functions are checking diarrhea by tonifying spleen, controlling nocturnal emission by tonifying the kidney, and tranquilizing mind by nourishing the heart. Prime lotus seed uses and indications include chronic diarrhea or dysentery because of spleen deficiency, emission due to the kidney deficiency, urinary incontinence, uterine bleeding, morbid leucorrhea, restlessness, palpitation, and insomnia. Recommended dosage is from 6 to 15 grams in decoction, powder, or teapills.
1. Jin Suo Gu Jing Wan from Yi Fang Ji Jie (Analytic collection of medical formulas). It is used with Qian Shi (Euryale Seed), Long Gu (Fossilized Bones), etc. for nocturnal emission and spermatorrhea.
2. Shen Ling Bai Zhu San from Tai Ping Hui Min He Ji Ju Fang (Formulas of the Peaceful Benevolent Dispensary). It works with Dang Shen (Codonopsis), Fu Ling (Poria), Bai Zhu (Atractylodes), etc. for the treatment of chronic diarrhea and loss of appetite due to spleen deficiency.
3. Lian Zi San from Ren Zhai Zhi Zhi Fang Lun (Renzhai’s Comprehensive Prescriptions). It couples with Rou Dou Kou (Nutmeg Seeds) to treat stomach disorders that cause nausea.
4. Shui Zhi Wan from Yi Xue Fa Ming (Illuminating the Science of Medicine). In this formula it is used for the purpose of tonifying deficiency.
5. Shi Lian San from Fu Ren Liang Fang (Fine Formulas for Women). It combines with Poria and Ding Xiang (Cloves) to cure postpartum choking cough due to stomach cold, vomiting, or bloating.
Lotus seed side effects and contraindications
Lotus seed is an edible food. It has no known side effects and it is suitable for general population. However, it shouldn’t be consumed in the following 2 situations: people usually have dry stool or abdominal fullness due to constipation, plus patients are diagnosed with weak physique or deficiency of spleen and stomach since it is cold in nature.