On a hand woven rug in my office is depicted two of the most powerful creatures in Chinese mythology; the dragon and the phoenix. Prominently placed next to these creatures is the lotus flower. The lotus flower has a lot of respect in China. It is prominently placed in flower gardens as well as a subject matter of art work. It is also an important symbol in Buddhism and in Taoism. The lotus also has a prominent place in herbal medicine.
The lotus is a water lily and is related to the "lily pads" that are found in local lakes. Like its American cousin, the lotus grows in shallow water, with large floating leaves, with large white or yellow flowers. It is a favorite plant to decorate ornamental ponds in flower gardens all over China. In many ways having lotus flowers in your garden is like having a religious statue in the garden. Buddhism and Taoism look to the lotus as a symbol of beauty and purity that arises up from the impure.
As a medicine the lotus has several interesting functions. Most importantly is the ability to control bleeding. Water plants by nature tend to be cooling in nature. This combination of cooling and blood control functions makes it important in some very serious medical conditions. In Chinese medicine there are a couple of reasons for bleeding, one is of course trauma. The other is what is called "heat in the Blood" this type of condition is related to internal bleeding and is often associated with serious medical conditions. Lotus is used for simple things like insomnia and summer heat exhaustion as well being used in formulas for some types of cancer.
The Lotus is also used as Heart tonic in Chinese medicine. Heart function in Chinese medicine encompasses more than just the pumping of blood. It also includes joy. Regardless of the herbal functions related to joy, the look of a Chinese ornamental garden with bridge arching over a pond of blooming lotus flowers should bring joy to everyone who sees it.
— David Bock
This article was from David's LakeCountryOnline.com column, "The Practical Herbalist"
David Bock, C. Ac., Dipl. OM, FABORM
Wisconsin Certified Acupuncturist
National Board Certification in Oriental Medicine
Fellow American Board Of Oriental Reproductive Medicine
Bock Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine
888 Thackeray Trail #206
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin 53066