English: Lotus seeds

Chinese: 莲子

Parts used: Dried ripe seed

TCM category: Herbs that stabilize and bind

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): SourSweet

Organ affinity: Heart Kidney Spleen

Scientific name: Nelumbo nucifera

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

Use of Lian Zi (lotus seeds) 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 practitioner, 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 Lian Zi 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 Lian Zi is used*

Qing Xin Lian Zi Yin

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears the Heart. Augments the Qi and Yin. Stops turbid painful urinary dribbling.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic nephritisChronic prostatitis and others

Lian Zi is a king ingredient in Qing Xin Lian Zi Yin. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Qing Xin Lian Zi Yin, Lian Zi clears Heart Fire, augments Qi and Yin, drains Damp-Heat, and stops leakage. 

Read more about Qing Xin Lian Zi Yin

Jin Suo Gu Jing Wan

Source date: 1682 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Stabilizes the Kidneys. Binds up the semen.

Conditions targeted*: Sexual dysfunctionChyluria and others

Lian Zi is a deputy ingredient in Jin Suo Gu Jing Wan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Jin Suo Gu Jing Wan, Lian Zi works together with the other deputies in this formula (Lian Xu - Lotus Stamens - and Qian Shi - Foxnut seeds) to assist the key ingredient (Milkvetch seeds) in stabilizing the gate of Essence and stopping the leakage of semen.

Lotus stamens and Foxnut seeds also tonify the postnatal Essence via the Spleen.

Lotus seeds and stamens also nourish the Heart to calm the Mind (Shen).

Read more about Jin Suo Gu Jing Wan

Shen Ling Bai Zhu San

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Augments the Qi. Strengthens the Spleen. Leaches out Dampness. Stops diarrhea.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic gastritisEnteritis and others

Lian Zi is a deputy ingredient in Shen Ling Bai Zhu San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Shen Ling Bai Zhu San, Lian Zi strengthens the Spleen and stops diarrhea.

Read more about Shen Ling Bai Zhu San

Fu Tu Dan

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Stabilizes the Kidney Qi. Strengthens the Spleen. Stops leakage.

Read more about Fu Tu Dan

Wen Qi Hua Shi Tang

Source date: 1827 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Supports Kidney Yang. Supplies Spleen Qi. Expels Cold and Dampness from the Uterus.

In Wen Qi Hua Shi Tang, Lian Zi protects the Penetrating Vessel (Chong Mai)

Read more about Wen Qi Hua Shi Tang

Key TCM concepts behind Lian Zi's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Lian Zi belongs 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 Lian Zi is Neutral in nature. This means that Lian Zi typically doesn'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 Lian Zi means that you don't have to worry about that!

Lian Zi also tastes Sour and Sweet. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sour ingredients like Lian Zi helps 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 Lian Zi is thought to target the Heart, the Kidney and the Spleen. In addition to regulating Blood flow, in TCM the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' 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. The Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body.

Research on Lian Zi

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


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 Lian Zi as food

Lian Zi is 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.