Lotus signifies the cultural heritage – having spiritual , ornamental and medicinal value . It is the national flower of India . In Ayurveda it’s medicinal properties are described in detail.
Photo from Flickr
Family : Nymphaeaceae
Latin Name : Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn
English name : Lotus
Hindi name : Kamala
Sanskrit Name : Padma
Synonyms : Padma , Pankaj , Abja , Jalodbhava , Saaras , Ambho ruh , Panke ruh (that is grown in water )
Sahasrapatra , Shatpatra , Shatdal ( has numerous petals )
Nalin , Arvind , Mahotpala , Kamala ,Kusheshaya , Taamrasa , Sarasi ruh , Bis prasoon , Rajiv , Pushkar .
Names of different varieties of Lotus :
White Lotus : Pundarika / Shvet kamala ( Nymphaea lotus )
Blue Lotus : Indivar / Utpala / Pushkara ( Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea )
Pink Lotus : Padma ( Nelumbo nucifera )
( A yellow flowered species – Nelumbo lutea Willd is native to North America )
According to the blossoming , two types are mentioned in Ayurvedic texts :
- Surya vikasi : These blossom in morning and close in evening .
- Chandra vikasi : These blossom in evening and close in morning .
THE PLANT :
It is an aquatic plant with slender , elongated , branched , creeping rhizome , sending out roots at the nodes . Leaves peltate 60 – 90 cm in diameter , much raised out of water . Flowers solitary , large , fragrant , pink or white with centrally located yellow , conical torus in which carpels are shrunken . Fruits ovoid , nut like achenes .
MYTHOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE :
It is mentioned in Rigveda as Pundarika . It is considered as a symbol of divine beauty , prosperity , enlightenment , purity and fertility in Hinduism .
In Bhagwad Gita , it is stated that the individual who performs his duties without attachment is like lotus leaf that is untouched by water . In Upanishads , the lotus signifies the method of interior meditation and the revelation of the Atman ( soul ) within oneself .
In the epic Mahabharata , Brahma , the creator , is described as having sprung from the lotus that grew out of lord Vishnu’s navel ( Padmanabha ), when the deity lay absorbed in meditation .
The Goddess Lakshmi , who symbolizes wisdom , wealth and fertility sits on lotus flower , holding the same in two of her four hands .The lotus seat and pedestal have an almost universal appreciation with the figures of Hindu mythology .
The rosary made of seeds of lotus is used for prayer .
OTHER SIGNIFICANCE OF LOTUS :
- In Yoga , Lotus Position or Padmasana is used for meditation and other sitting poses . In this pose , body remains steady for longer periods and mind remains calm .
- In Atharvaveda , human heart is compared with lotus .
- In Ayurveda ,the ovulatory period in females is depicted with the example of opening and closing of lotus .
- Padma is associated with Sahasrasaar chakra .
- Literature : In Kumar sambhavam , written by poet Kalidasa , the arms of Parvati are compared with Mrinal ( the peduncles of lotus ) .
- Culinary Uses : i) Stems are used as vegetable , pickle .
ii) Seeds are eaten raw or parched called phool makhana .
iii) Leaves are used for wrapping the food which is to be steamed .
- Fragrant flowers yield good quality honey . It is called Makranda or Padma madhu .
- Dried seed heads are used in flower arrangement for decoration .
PROPERTIES OF LOTUS :
Taste : Sweet
Properties : Cold , dry
Potency : Cold
Post digestive property : Sweet
LEAVES ( SAMVARTIKA ) : The leaves are bitter , cooling and diuretic .Useful in burning sensation , hyperdipsia , fever , haemorrhoids and leprosy .
Prolapse of rectum : Tender leaves of lotus plant mixed with sugar are given .
Threatened abortion : Leaves of lotus and blue lotus mixed with honey and sugar , taken with milk are useful .
FLOWERS : These are sweet , astringent , refrigerant and cardiotonic . Useful in diarrhoea , fever , hepatopathy , hyperdipsia , internal injuries , bronchitis , vitiated conditions of pitta .
Diarrhoea with blood : Goat’s milk processed with lotus , utpala (Nymphoea nouchali Burm) and lajjalu ( Mimosa pudica ) mixed with honey and sugar is used for drinking , eating and sprinkling .
Dysuria : Decoction of lotus ,utpala (Nymphoea nouchali Burm) , shringataka ( Trapa bispinosa ) is helpful .
Eye diseases : Cow’s milk boiled with lotus , instilled in eyes removes redness , haemorrhage , pain , wound , inflammation .
TORUS ( KAMAL KARNIKA / BIJAKOSHA / VARAATAK ) : It is acrid , astringent & sweet in taste , cold , light , mouth freshner , alleviates thirst , blood disorders , kapha and pitta .
SEEDS ( KAMAL GATTA / PADMABIJA ) : It is nutritious , sweet , cold , unctuous , astringent ,aphrodisiac , helpful during pregnancy , in clotting of blood .
It is used as a food .
In cough caused by pitta , one should use powder of lotus seeds mixed with honey .
Its gruel is useful in vomiting , hiccough and leucorrhoea .
STAMENS ( KINJALKA / KESAR ) : It is astringent in taste , is cold , aphrodisiac , alleviates kapha , pitta , thirst , burning sensation , bleeding piles , inflammation .
Its powder with candy sugar is helpful in menorrhagia , haemoptysis .
Bleeding piles : Regular use of butter mixed with sugar and stamens is helpful .
Diarrhoea with fever : Utpala ( Nymphoea nouchali Burm) , pomegranate bark and stamens of lotus taken together with rice water should be given .
Dysentery : Stamens of white lotus pounded with rice water and mixed with sugar candy is indicated .
STEM ( KAMAL NAAL / BIS / MRINAL ) : It is sweet , cold , heavy , dry , heavy to digest , aphrodisiac , astringent .
It increases lactation , vata , kapha and alleviates pitta , blood disorders , burning sensation , stomatitis .
Intrinsic haemorrhage : Duralabha ( Fagonia Arabica ) , Parpata (Fumaria officinali ), Lotus stalk – these combined or separately are helpful .
Alcoholism : One should take lotus stalk , lotus stem , pippali ( long pepper ) , and haritaki ( Terminalia chebula ) mixed with honey .
ROOT ( KAMAL KAND / SHALUKA / KARHAATAKA ) : Lotus root cooked in oil with cow’s urine should be used in retention of urine associated with severe pain .
PADMINI ( BISINI / KAMALINI ) : It is the blossomed flower with roots , stem , leaves , fruit . It is cold , heavy to digest , sweet and salty in taste , dry , obstructs vata . It alleviates pitta , blood disorders and kapha .
As a rasayan – ghee processed with the paste of stalk , stem , stamens , leaves and seeds of lotus along with pieces of gold and milk is known as pancha vrinda ( having five parts of lotus ) , it promotes strength , virility and intellect .
ACTIVE PRINCIPLES :
Amino acids : Alanine , arginine , asparagine, cysteine , glycine , histidine , isoleucine , leucine , lysine , methionine , proline , tyrosine , tryptophan
Vitamins : Ascorbic acid , beta carotene , niacin , riboflavin , rutin , thiamine
Minerals : Calcium , copper , iron , magnesium , manganese , phosphorus , potassium , sodium
Others : Carbohydrates , fat , fiber , protein , glutathione , isoquercetin , quercetin ,kaempferol
Effect On Cardiovascular System : The effect of lotus embryo extract on the contraction of guinea pig atria has been evaluated .It showed positive chronotropic and ionotropic effects on guinea pig atria in a concentration dependant manner .
Effects On Gastrointestinal System : The methanolic extract of rhizomes of lotus shows significant inhibitory activity against castor oil induced diarrhoea and PGE2 induced enteropolling in rats . It also shows significant reduction of gastro intestinal motility in rats .
Effect On Central Nervous System : The methanolic extract of rhizomes of lotus causes significant reduction in spontaneous activity . It is known to decrease muscle relaxant activity and potentiates phenobarbitone induced sleeping time .
Anti inflammatory , Analgesic , Anti pyretic activity : Lotus rhizomes are known to have potent anti inflammatory activity . The methanol extract of plant as well as betulinic acid , a steroidal triterpinoid isolated from it shows anti inflammatory activity against carrageenin and serotonin induced rat paw oedema . The effects produced are comparable with phenylbutazone and dexamethazone in the dose of 200 – 400 mg / kg p.o extract ( 50 and 100 mg / kg ) betulinic acid . The methanolic extract of the plant is also known to have significant antipyretic activity .
Hypoglycemic Activity : Methanolic extract of the rhizome has been found to possess significant hypoglycemic activity on streptozotocin induced diabetic rats .
Lotus has cultural as well as medicinal significance . It implies that a person should live life for upliftment of physical and spiritual wellbeing .
- Chemistry and Pharmacology of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants by Vd Mukund Sabnis
- Kamala – Tha National Flower of India – It’s ancient history & uses in Indian Medicine -R Mitra & L D Kapoor CCR in Indian Medicine & Homeopathy Unit , National Botanical Gardens , Lucknow