Lotus seeds

Chinese: 莲子

Pinyin: Lián Zǐ

Parts used: Dried ripe seed

TCM category: Herbs that stabilize and bind

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): SourSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartKidney

Scientific name: Nelumbo nucifera

Other names: Indian lotus, Sacred lotus, Bean of India, Egyptian bean, Lian zi

Use of lotus seeds (Lián Zǐ) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitionner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: When the fruit is mature, the lotus is harvested, the seeds are removed, their outer peel is removed and they are dried.

Dosage: 6 - 15 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Tonifies the Spleen, stops diarrhea. Strengthens the Kidneys, reinforces Essence. Nourishes the Blood and calms the mind.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which lotus seeds may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Leukorrhagia Diarrhea Palpitations Restlessness Insomnia Loss of appetite Premature ejaculation Spermatorrhea Abnormal uterine bleeding

Contraindications*: Not for individuals with constipation and abdominal distention.

Common TCM formulas in which lotus seeds are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind lotus seeds' properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), lotus seeds are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that stabilize and bind' category. This category of herbs is used for treating abnormal discharges and displacement of organs. This includes conditions such as diarrhea, discharges from the vagina, penis or rectum as well as prolapse of the uterus or rectum. It is important to note that herbs in this category only treat symptoms, so one should also use herbs to treat the underlying Deficiency.

Furthermore lotus seeds are plants that are Neutral in nature. This means that lotus seeds typically don't affect the balance in your body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Eating too many "Hot" (Yang) ingredients can lead to an imbalance whereby one has a Yang excess. The inverse is true as well: too many "Cold" (Yin) ingredients can lead to a Yin excess. The Neutral nature of lotus seeds means that you don't have to worry about that!

Lotus seeds also taste Sour and Sweet. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sour ingredients like lotus seeds help with digestion and restrain abnormal discharges of fluids from the body, such as diarrhea or heavy sweating. On the other hand Sweet ingredients tend to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what organs and meridians they target. As such lotus seeds are thought to target the Spleen, the Heart and the Kidney. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, blood coagulation and fluid metabolism in the body. In addition to regulating blood flow, the Heart is believed to be the store of the "spirit" which basically refers to someone's vitality. The Kidneys do not only regulate the urinary system but also play a key role in the reproductive system and the growth and aging process of the body.

Research on lotus seeds

Antioxidant activity of hydro alcoholic extract of Nelumbo nucifera seeds (HANN) was studied using in vitro and in vivo models and the results supported a significant antioxidant nature for HANN.1

Sources:

1. S Rai, A Wahile, K Mukherjee, BP Saha et al. (2006). "Antioxidant activity of Nelumbo nucifera (sacred lotus) seeds" Journal of Ethnopharmacology. Volume 104, Issue 3, Pages 322-327.

Use of lotus seeds as food

Lotus seeds are also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Lotus Seed Sweet Soup or Prawn with Lotus Seeds Stir-fry.