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Kamal, Padma, or Indian Lotus is the national flower of India. It is the most sacred plant in Hinduism. It is sacred to the goddess of prosperity, Devi Lakshmi. Lord Brahma, who is God of creation, sits on a lotus flower emerging from the navel of Lord Vishnu. He is manifested from Lord Vishnu to assist in secondary process of Universe creation.
The lotus root, and seeds have been used for devotional practices, as the plant is believed to improve the mind’s ability to focus, and encourage the development of a person’s spirituality. The lotus is considered a metaphor for the soul, rooted in the mud of the material world but transcending limitations to rise towards the top of the pond.
The pink lotus is called Brahma Kamal, and it appears in all Hindu temples. It symbolizes purity, beauty, water, source of divine immaculate birth, fertility, and growth. Blue lotus flower is known as Indivar, Neelkamal, Pushkar, Rajwa, and Vanaja. Padma, and Kamal, Koknad is name given for red lotus flowers, and Pundarika is name for white flowers.
Abhi, Arvind, Kanwal, Niraj, Nalin, Pankaj, Padma, Pushkar, Rajiv, Saroj, Utpal, all these names are synonym of Kamal or Lotus in Hindi.
Kamal is an aquatic medicinal herb too. It can be seen growing in lakes, and pounds. All parts of the plant such as Seed, Leaf, Root, Flower, Filament, Anther, and Stalk, are edible, and used for therapeutic use. In Ayurveda, for medicinal purpose generally, white lotus flower is used.
Health Benefits of Lotus
Various Lotus parts offers several health benefits. Lotus is a cooling, promoting complexion, sweet, and cure diseases of kapha, and pitta, such as burning sensation, and inflammatory skin conditions.
The stamens are used in flavoring the tea.
The seeds can be popped like popcorn, ground into powder, and eaten dry or used in bread making. The roasted seeds can be used as coffee substitute.
Tender rhizomes, stems, and leaves of lotus are edible, and its seeds are rich in protein as well as minerals. Lotus stem consists of 6, 2.4, 0.2 mg/100 g calcium, iron, and zinc respectively. Root is also a source of starch or arrowroot.
Lotus plants provide several bioactive ingredients like alkaloids, flavonoids, antioxidants, antisteroids, antipyretic, anticancerous, antiviral, and anti-obesity properties. They have antidiarrheal, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, hypoglycemic, immunomodulatory, psychopharmacological, antioxidant, aphrodisiac, lipolytic, antiviral, anticancer, and hepatoprotective activities.
Kamal is a large, aquatic herb with creeping stem, occurring throughout warmer parts of the country up to an altitude of 1000 meter.
The botanical name of Kamal is Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn. It belongs to plant family Nymphaeaceae. Below is given taxonomical classification of the plant.
- Kingdom : Plantae – plantes, Planta, Vegetal, plants
- Subkingdom : Viridiplantae
- Infrakingdom : Streptophyta – land plants
- Superdivision : Embryophyta
- Division : Tracheophyta – vascular plants, tracheophytes
- Subdivision : Spermatophytina – spermatophytes, seed plants, phanérogames
- Class : Magnoliopsida
- Superorder : Proteanae
- Order : Proteales
- Family : Nelumbonaceae – Indian lotus
- Genus : Nelumbo Adans. – lotus
- Species : Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn. – Sacred lotus
- Nelumbium nelumbo Druce
- Nelumbium speciosum Willd
- Nelumbo speciosa Willd.
Description of Plant
The lotus is an erect, large, attractive aquatic herb with large circular, leathery leaves measuring about 20 inches (50 cm) in diameter. The overall height of the plant is 3 – 6 ft. (1 – 2 m) high. The leaves, and large, fragrant, white or pink flowers with a yellow Centre float on the water. Slender, elongated roots reach down into, and fan out through, the mud of the pond. The flowers are solitary, and the plant has many-seeded ovoid fruits. The lotus grows in shallow ponds, and marshland throughout India up to an altitude of 5,400 ft. (1,800 m).
Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Plant, Seed, Leaf, Root, Flower, Filament, Anther, Stalks leaves.
Plant type: aquatic herb
Flowering & Fruiting: March – December (January).
Distribution: It is native to Asia, and distributed from South, and East Asia (Bhutan, China, Indonesia (Java), Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Guinea, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia (Far East), Sri Lanka, and Thailand) to far eastern Russia, and to N. Australia, and America.
Habitat: A range of shallow wetland habitats, including fresh water ponds, lakes, marshes, swamps, and the backwaters of reservoirs.
Propagated by: division of the rhizomes, and by seeds.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy), and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral, and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It grows in water.
Etymology: The genus name is derived from the Tamil word Nelum, which means blue, and the specific epithet ‘nucifera’ derived from the Latin words, nux (= nut), and fera (= bearing), for nut-bearing.
Economic Importance: Leaves are used for wrapping food, and as plate. Flower is used as the source of lotus perfume. Dried flowers are used in preparation of fragrant herbal tea. Young leaves, petioles, and flowers are eaten as vegetables. Tender seeds are edible.
Ceremonial Uses: Flowers are used as offerings in temples. Fiber obtained from lotus plant is used for weaving special robes for Buddha images, and the flower is considered a symbol of fortune in Buddhism. Lotus flowers are essential part of Durga Puja in West Bengal.
- Latin name: Nelumbo nucifera
- Sanskrit: Padnakanda, Saluka, Ambhoruha (Rhizome) Abja, Aravind, Padma, Kalhara, Shatapatra, Pundrahva, Pundarika, Prapaundarika (white), Sitopala, Pankaja, kokanada (red), Indivara (Bluish), Padma kesar (Adr.)
- Assamese: Kamal Kakdi (Rhizome) Podum (Flower)
- Bengali: Padma Phool, Salaphool (Flower)
- English: Sacred Lotus
- Gujarati: Loda (Rhizome), Kamal (Flower)
- Hindi: Kamal Kand, Kamal Kakdi (Rhizome), Kamal, Kanwal (Flower)
- Kannada: Tavare Kande (Rhizome) Kamal, Tavare, Naidile, Tavaregedd (Flower)
- Kashmir: Nadru (stem)
- Malayalam: Tamara Kizangu (Rhizome) Tamara, Venthamara, Chenthamara, Senthamara (Flower)
- Marathi: Kamal Kand (Rhizome) Komala (Flower)
- Oriya: Padma (Rhizome)
- Punjabi: Kaul, Bhein (Rhizome) Kanwal, Pamposh (Flower)
- Tamil: Tamardi Kizangu (Rhizome) Tamarai, Thamaraipoo, Aravindan, Paduman, Kamalam, Sarojam (Flower)
- Telugu: Tamara Gadda (Rhizome) Kaluva, Tamarapuvow (Flower)
- Urdu: Kanwal Kakdi (Rhizome) Kamal (Flower)
- Siddha: Tamarai malar
- Myanmar name: Badonmakyar
- Other Common Names: Lian ou, Lin ngau, Hasu, Renkon, Yun gun
- Kamal is known as Neelofer / Nilufer in Unani-tibb. Its Mizaj (Temperament) is considered Cold, and Dry.
Rhizome: Rhizome has distinct nodes, and internodes, cylindrical, 0.5-2.5 cm in dia., longitudinally marked with brown patches, smooth, yellowish white to yellowish-brown; root adventitious, less developed, 0.5-1 mm thick, attached to node of the rhizome; dark brown.
Flower: Entire or pieces of flowers, comprising of calyx, corolla, and roecium, gynoecium, and thalamus; entire flower 10-15 cm in dia., yellowish-brown; sepals leaf-like, crimpled, 3-5 cm long, 1.3-2 cm wide, dark brown, broken pieces also occur; petals numerous, crimp led, elliptic, obtuse, membranous, finely veined, 2-4 cm long, 1.2-2 cm wide yellowish-brown; anther, erect, linear 1.4-2 cm long, extended into clavate appendages; gynoceium apocarpous; carpels many, free, embedded in a creamy, top shaped fleshy thalamus (torus) 3-5 cm long, and 2.5-3 cm wide; fruit an etaerio of achenes, becoming loose in their sockets when ripe; seed hard, black, starchy, and large.
Flowers yielded quercetin, luteolin, and their glycosides, and kaempferol glycosides. Leaves gave quercetin, isoquercitrin, and leucoanthocyanidin. Leaves contain alkaloids, nelumbin, and roemerin.
Ayurvedic Properties, and Action of Rhizome, and flower
- Rasa (taste on the tongue): Kasaya (Astringent), Madhura (Sweet), Katu (Pungent), Lavan (Saline), Tikta (Bitter)
- Guna (Pharmacological Action): Guru (Heavy), Ruksha (Dry)
- Virya: Sita (Cooling)
- Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Madhura (Sweet)
Karma: Chakshushya, Krimighna, Kaphahara, Pittahara, Ruchya, Vrishya, Varnya, Vishaghna, Vishambhakara, Dahashamaka, Raktadushtihara, Durjara, Stanyajanana, Sangrahi, Mutravirechaniya, Vatakara.
Therapeutich uses: Trishna, chardi, Raktapitta, Murchha, Kasa, Vatagulma, Visarpa, Visphota, Mutrakrichhra, Dansodbhava, Jvara, Bhrama, Shosha, Hridroga
- Rasa: Madhura, Tikta, Kashaya
- Guna: Shita, Laghu
- Virya: Shita
- Vipaka: Madhura
- Karma: Kaphahara, Mutra Virajaniya, Pittahara, Santapahara, Varnya
- Therapeutic uses – Raktapitta, Visarpa, Trishna Daha, Vishavikara.
Important formulations containing Kamala
- Anu Taila
- Arimedadi Taila
- Bhringraja Taila
- Balaswagandhadi Tailam
- Drakshadi Kashayam
- Pushyanuga Churna
- Kanaka Taila
- Triphala Ghrita
The Dosage of Various parts of Lotus / Kamal
Various parts of lotus can be given in following dose to adults. Children of age 5-16 years should be given half of the adult dosage.
Flower (Kamala) as powder: 3-6 gram
Rhizome (Bisa / Bhen): 30-50 gram
Stalk (Mrinal / Murar) as powder: 30-50 gram
Seed Powder (Padmabija / Kamalgatta): 3-6 gram
Pollen: 1-2 gram
Medicinal Uses of Kamal / Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)
Lotus has been used as a medicinal herb in India from ancient times. The leaves, seeds, flower, and rhizome, filaments, all are edible, and used for medicinal purpose. The lotus seeds are known as Kamal- gatta, and rhizome is called as kamal kakri in India. Flowers are known as Kamala. Rhizome paste is applied in ringworm, and other cutaneous affections. Stem helps in the healthy growth of the fetus. Roots help in removal of toxic wastes from the body, and also helpful in reducing body heat. Leaves, and flowers are useful in many bleeding disorders. Flowers are prescribed to promote conception.
- Lotus leaves have lipolytic, anti-obesity, cardiovascular, and hypocholesterolaemic activity.
- They also possess diuretic, and astringent properties, and help to treat fever, sweating, and strangury, and as styptic.
- The paste of leaf can be applied to the body during fever, and inflammatory skin conditions.
- Leaves are used as effective drug for hematemesis, epistaxis, hemoptysis, hematuria, and metrorrhagia.
- The flower is a cooling, sedative, astringent, cholagogue, cardiac tonic, diuretic, bitter, expectorant, and refrigerant.
- The decoction of lotus flower is given in cholera, fever, disease of the liver, strangury, and palpitation of heart.
- Lotus flowers are considered a tonic for the heart, the liver, and skin, particularly when aggravated Pitta is involved.
- Flowers, with their parts or extracts have shown to possess antimicrobial, vasodilating, antihypertensive, antiarrhythmic, aphrodisiac, and antioxidant properties.
- Flowers are recommended to promote conception.
- The decoction of the flowers is used in the treatment of premature ejaculation.
- The seeds (Kamal beej/Kamal Gatta) are given for vomiting, leprosy, chronic diarrhea, in high blood pressure, fevers, and as antidote to poisons.
- They are used as spleen tonic.
- Nutritionally, lotus seeds consist of 10.5% moisture, 10.6-15.9% protein, 1.93-2.8% crude fat, 70-72.17% carbohydrate, 2.7% crude fibre, and energy 348.45 cal/100 g.
- Minerals present in lotus seeds include chromium (0.0042%), sodium (1%), potassium (28.5%), calcium (22.1%), magnesium (9.2%), copper (0.0463%), zinc (0.084%), manganese (0.356%), and iron (0.199%).
- The seeds are tonic, and eaten raw or roasted.
- They are demulcent, and nutritive.
- The seeds are high in protein, and encourage hormonal function. They are used as an aphrodisiac.
- The seeds or their extracts have been reported to possess anti-proliferative, anti-fibrosis, antidepressant, anti-inflammation, astringent, hepatoprotective, and free radical scavenging, anti-obesity, hypolipidemic, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, and antiviral activities.
- Seed powder is used against cough. For Kasa / cough, powder of seeds 3 gram, is given with honey two times a day.
- The rhizomes, or underground stems (often called roots) grow in the mud at the bottom of shallow ponds, lakes, lagoons, marshes, and flooded fields. They contain large spaces that allow for air storage for the submerged plant structures.
- The starchy rhizomes are very nutritious, and can be eaten either raw or cooked. They are edible, and has mild flavor. They consist of 1.7% protein, 0.1% fat, and 9.7% carbohydrate.
- Lotus Rhizome has diuretic, anti-diabetic, anti-obesity, hypoglycemic, antipyretic, and antioxidant activities.
- They are used in piles, dysentery, chronic dyspepsia, and dysentery. It is applied externally in skin affections, eruptions, scabies, and ringworm. The rhizome extract has anti-diabetic.
- The rhizome is demulcent, and increase sperm production. It arrests bleeding, and assist respiratory conditions such as pharyngitis.
- For infertility in women, lotus root powder (1 teaspoon) + Shatavari powder (1 teaspoon) + 1/4 cup of Aloe Vera juice + 1/2 cup of warm water is mixed. This mix is taken twice a day on an empty stomach.
- Lotus rhizome are rich in highly digestible starch, vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and used as food.
- As a reproductive tonic, to boost sperm count, and libido, the seed, and root powder (each 3 grams) is mixed in one cup of warm almond milk, and taken one hour before bed.
- The filaments / Padma Kesara is astringent, and hemostatic, and prescribed for bleeding piles, and menorrhagia.
- In piles Padma Kesara, five gram is given with five gram butter.
- Contraindications, Interactions, and Side Effects
- Seed should not be taken in constipation, and stomach distention.
- Hazards and/or side effects not known for proper therapeutic dosages.
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