What are Lotus Seeds?
Lotus Seeds (lian zi, 莲子), also known as Lian Zi, are the mature seeds of the Lotus Plant, which is found in Middle East and Asia. These plants inhabit ponds and lakes, and its seeds are harvested in the Autumn. Lotus Seed is usually collected in August and September, after being dried in the sun and having its skin removed. Lotus Seed is usually small, round, and white or off-white in colour.
According to legend, consuming Lotus Seed can make people become young and immortal. While it is just a groundless fairytale, many ancient medical books such as the Compendium of Materia Medica have recorded that Lotus Seed has a variety of longevity-related medicinal properties.
Today, Lotus Seed is a very popular food product and it can be found in many desserts today, such as our mooncakes.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Lotus Seed falls under the category of ‘Herbs that stabilize and bind’. Such herbs can help to treat abnormal discharges and displacement from organs, which include conditions such as diarrhea, discharges from the vagina, penis or rectum, as well as prolapse of the uterus or rectum. Neutral in nature, Lotus Seed does not affect the yin-yang balance in the human body. Sour and sweet, this herb can help with digestion, restrain abnormal discharges of fluids from the body, slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. Lotus Seed also has a tonic effect on the human body as it can replenish one’s qi and blood. In particular, this herb is thought to target the Heart, the Kidneys and the Spleen.
Functions and Benefits of Lotus Seeds
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Lotus Seed has the following functions.
Lotus Seed can tonify the Spleen qi to resolve diarrheas and dysentery caused by Spleen Deficiency.
Lotus Seed can tonify the Kidneys to secure essence (jing). This thus helps to relieve seminal emission and spermatorrhea caused by Kidney Deficiency and the insecurity of one’s essence gate.
Lotus Seed can address Leukorrhagia. As it can target both the Spleen and Kidneys, it is often used with other Spleen-tonifying and Dampness-draining herbs to relieve Leukorrhagia. Other than that, Lotus Seed can also be combined with Kidney tonics and astringents to address soreness and limpness of knees and lumbar.
Lastly, Lotus Seed can nourish the blood to calm one’s mind. By tonifying the Spleen and the Kidneys, this herb can induce tranquilization in the Heart. Thus, this herb can help to clear Heat to relieve restlessness, palpitation, night sweats and insomnia to calm one’s mind.
Modern studies have also found that not only can Lotus Seed boost the immune system, but they are also rich in antioxidants, which can neutralize harmful free radicals and prevent oxidative stress. This may help to protect against chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes. Also, this herb may help to support healthier blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels.
Adding Lotus Seed to your diet can boost your intake of protein and fiber as well, which may benefit weight loss. This is because it can help to reduce food cravings and regulate appetite.
Lotus Seed may also have powerful anti-ageing properties which can help to support skin hydration and elasticity, promote skin health and slow down signs of aging.
How to Use Lotus Seeds (Lian Zi)
The recommended dose of Lotus Seed for a day is 6-15g of crushed or powdered Lotus Seed.
Raw and unprepared Lotus Seed can be found in many herbal shops and markets. Powdered and crushed Lotus Seed can also be found at some specialty stores. Lotus Seed may also be available in capsule, tablet or in other forms of supplements.
You can either consume supplements that contain Lotus Seed, or add Lotus Seed to your dishes to enjoy its health benefits. For example, you can simply add dried Lotus Seed to your porridge by cooking them together with the rice. Alternatively, if you are making soup, you can just add Lotus Seed into the soup by making sure they are cooked for at least 15 to 20 minutes in the soup.
Cautions and Side Effects of Lotus Seeds
Individuals who are experiencing constipation and abdominal distention should avoid consuming Lotus Seed for the time being.
As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with Lotus Seed yet. However, it is always best practice to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Lotus Seed into your diet.
Here is a summary for Lotus Seeds:
- Herb name (Chinese): 莲子
- Herb name (Pin Yin): lián zǐ
- Herb name (English): Lotus Seed
- Herb name (Botanical): Semen Nelumbinis
- Origin of species: Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn.
- Part(s) of herb used: Seed
- Geo-specific habitat(s): Hunan, Fujian, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and other southern parts of China
- Taste(s) & Properties: Sweet, astringent; Neutral; Administrates the Spleen, Kidney and Heart meridians
- Actions: Aids conditions associated with erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation; Reduces excessive vaginal discharge; Nourishes the Spleen and Stomach functions, and relieves diarrhea; Helps to promote sleep
Pal, I., & Dey, P. (2015). A review on lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) seed. International Journal of Science and Research, 4(7), 1659-1665. [Accessed on 29th September 2022]
Weng, W., & Chen, J. (1996). The eastern perspective on functional foods based on traditional Chinese medicine. Nutrition reviews, 54(11), S11.[Accessed on 29th September 2022]
Wu, Q., & Liang, X. (2018). Food therapy and medical diet therapy of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Clinical Nutrition Experimental, 18, 1-5.[Accessed on 29th September 2022]
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