Herb: Sacred Water Lotus

Latin name: Nelumbo nucifera

Synonyms: Nelumbium speciosum

Family: Nelumbonaceae

Medicinal use of Sacred Water Lotus:

The Sacred water lotus has been used in the Orient as a medicinal herb for well over 1,500 years. All parts of the plant are used, they are astringent, cardiotonic, febrifuge, hypotensive, resolvent, stomachic, styptic, tonic and vasodilator. The leaf juice is used in the treatment of diarrhoea and is decocted with liquorice (Glycyrrhiza spp) for the treatment of sunstroke. A decoction of the flowers is used in the treatment of premature ejaculation. The flowers are recommended as a cardiac tonic. A decoction of the floral receptacle is used in the treatment of abdominal cramps, bloody discharges etc. The flower stalk is haemostatic. It is used in treating bleeding gastric ulcers, excessive menstruation, post-partum haemorrhage. The stamens are used in treating urinary frequency, premature ejaculation, haemolysis, epistasis and uterine bleeding. A decoction of the fruit is used in the treatment of agitation, fever, heart complaints etc. The seed contains several medically active constituents, including alkaloids and flavonoids. It is hypotensive, sedative and vasodilator. The seed has been shown to lower cholesterol levels and to relax the smooth muscle of the uterus. It is used in the treatment of poor digestion, enteritis, chronic diarrhoea, spermatorrhoea, leukorrhoea, insomnia, palpitations etc. The plumule and radicle are used to treat thirst in high febrile disease, hypertension, insomnia and restlessness. The root is tonic. The root starch is used in the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery etc, a paste is applied to ringworm and other skin ailments. It is also taken internally in the treatment of haemorrhages, excessive menstruation and nosebleeds. The roots are harvested in autumn or winter and dried for later use. The root nodes are used in the treatment of nasal bleeding, haemoptysis, haematuria and functional bleeding of the uterus. The plant has a folk history in the treatment of cancer, modern research has isolated certain compounds from the plant that show anticancer activity.

Description of the plant:


100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

July to


Habitat of the herb:

Found in large lakes to 1400 metres in the Himalayas.

Edible parts of Sacred Water Lotus:

Root - cooked as a vegetable. It is also a source of starch or arrowroot. Much used and relished in Chinese cooking, the root has a mild flavour and a crisp texture. It can be cooked with other vegetables, soaked in syrup or pickled in vinegar. The root contains about 1.7% protein, 0.1% fat, 9.7% carbohydrate, 1.1% ash. Young leaves - cooked or raw. Used as a vegetable. The leaves can also be used to wrap small parcels of food before cooking them. Stems - cooked. A taste somewhat like beet. They are usually peeled before use. Seed - raw or cooked. A delicate flavour. The seed can be popped like popcorn, ground into a powder and used in making bread or eaten dry. The bitter tasting embryo is often removed. The seed contains about 15.9% protein, 2.8% fat, 70% carbohydrate, 3.9% ash. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute. Petals can be floated in soups or used as a garnish. The stamens are used to flavour tea.

Other uses of the herb:

The leaves are used as plates for eating food off.

Propagation of Sacred Water Lotus:

Seed - file the seed across its centre, being very careful not to damage the flesh of the seed, and soak in warm water, changing the water twice a day until signs of germination are seen, which should be within 3 - 4 weeks at 25C. Plant in individual pots just covered in water and increase the depth as the plant grows. Division in spring as the plant comes into growth. Be very careful, the plants deeply resent root disturbance.

Cultivation of the herb:

Found in large lakes to 1400 metres in the Himalayas.

Known hazards of Nelumbo nucifera:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.