The dried flowers of the Blue Lotus plant are smoked or steeped in a tea in order to give the user a sense of peaceful relaxation. Blue Lotus is noted for its calming euphoria, aphrodisiac qualities, and sedation.
Blue Lotus (Nymphaea caerulea) is a sedative plant also known as Blue Water Lily, Egyptian lotus and the Sacred Lily of the Nile.
Table of Contents
This plant originates from North and Central Africa, where it was found along the Nile River in Egypt1, and is now cultivated as an ornamental pond plant throughout the world2. For thousands of years it was used by Egyptians and Mayans as part of funerary ceremonies1. Shamans would use these sacred blue flowers to reach higher levels of consciousness3.
The Egyptian myth
In Egypt it was believed that gods had provided humans with Blue Lotus as a way for the soul to leave the body and be among them 3. The sun-god Ra was born from a Blue Lotus, and in its glory flowers bloom from 8 am to noon3. They are a symbol of the origins of life, but also represent the death and resurrection of Osiris4 and thus symbolize eternal life, revival and reanimation5. Other Egyptian gods were born from Blue Lotus or were seeking to transform themselves through it1. According to Egyptian legend, a bouquet was given to Ra in an effort to soothe his suffering as he grew old6.
Methods of Use
The flowers of the Blue Lotus can be ingested through a variety of methods.
More commonly, 1 to 3 g of dried flowers are brewed into tea10. The flower should be put in at least a small amount of wine (or other alcoholic beverages) first to extract active molecules, since the narcotic alkaloid compounds are not soluble in water 10 12. The infused wine and liquors can also be ingested.
The benefits of Blue Lotus stem mainly from the sedative properties of the plant. It is used as a sleep aid and as an anxiety reliever10. Blue Lotus contains nuciferine along with aporphine14, that activate serotonin and dopamine receptors15 17.
Blue Lotus could have antioxidant properties18. Some people use it as an aphrodisiac and to help with erectile dysfunction. There are also reports of its use as a treatment for gastrointestinal problems. Diarrhea and dyspepsia, among other things, have reportedly been helped by ingesting Blue Lotus, although research is scarce in this particular area18.
The effects of Blue Lotus seem to differ between different people, and to depend on how it is used, but its principal effects (mildly sedative, relaxing and calming19) is probably what made this plant popular among the Egyptians.
A calm sense of euphoria overtakes many users of the plant19, The sedation is present, but the tingling, body energy sensation of stimulants fills them as well.
Some also feel an aphrodisiac effect and improvement of sexual performances19.
Reported possible side effects include muscle tremors and nausea20 and active ingredients may affect heart rate and blood pressure18. Avoid combination with other drugs (including medicines) to prevent intense nausea and feelings of disorientation.
Blue Lotus is not a federally controlled substance in the United States, although not approved for human consumption by FDA10. Thus, the cultivation, sale, and purchase of Nymphaea caerulea is legal, but it cannot be sold for consumption. Incense and weaker teas are commonly found in stores, however, and must fall within certain regulations. Louisiana is the only state in the country which has passed laws specifically dealing with Nymphaea caerulea, forbidding production, manufacturing, distribution or possession of the plant21.
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Sources / References
1. Emboden, W. A. (1981) ‘Transcultural use of narcotic water lilies in ancient egyptian and maya drug ritual’. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 3(1), pp. 39–83.
3. Emboden, W. A. (1989) ‘The sacred journey in dynastic Egypt: Shamanistic trance in the context of the narcotic water lily and the mandrake’. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 21(1), pp. 61–75.
4. Emboden, W. A . (1978) ‘The Sacred Narcotic Lily of the Nile: Nymphaea caerulea’. Economic Botany, 32(4), pp. 395–407.
5. Kandeler, R. and Ullrich, W. R. (2009) ‘Symbolism of plants: examples from European-Mediterranean culture presented with biology and history of art: JULY: Lotus’. Journal of Experimental Botany, 60(9), pp. 2461–2464.
7. Van Khai, T. (2018) ‘The development of the architectural form of a tower derived from a traditional and philosophical symbol, realized by solutions of high-class technologies. the case of the Bitexco Financial Tower’, in E3S Web of Conferences.
8. ‘Nymphaea caerulea, Régime des Fleurs’. [website] Available from: https://regimedesfleurs.com/products/nymphaea-caerulea (Accessed 22 April 2020)
9. Georgiev, V., Slavov, A., Vasileva, I. and Pavlov, A. (2018) ‘Plant cell culture as emerging technology for production of active cosmetic ingredients’. Engineering in Life Sciences, 18(11), pp. 779–798.
10. Poklis, J. L., Mulder, H. A., Halquist, M. S., Wolf, C. E., et al. (2017) ‘The Blue Lotus Flower (Nymphea caerulea) Resin Used in a New Type of Electronic Cigarette, the Re-Buildable Dripping Atomizer’. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 49(3), pp. 175–181.
11. Saunders, N.J. (2013) The Poppy: A History of Conflict, Loss, Remembrance, and Redemption, One World Publications.
14. Peace, M. R., Smith, M. E. and Poklis, J. L. (2020) ‘The analysis of commercially available natural products recommended for use in electronic cigarettes’. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 34(11).
15. Bertol, E., Fineschi, V., Karch, S. B., Mari, F. and Riezzo, I. (2004) ‘Nymphaea cults in ancient Egypt and the New World: A lesson in empirical pharmacology’. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 97(2), pp. 84–85.
16. Farrell, M. S., McCorvy, J. D., Huang, X., Urban, D. J., et al. (2016) ‘In Vitro and In Vivo Characterization of the Alkaloid Nuciferine’. PLOS ONE, 11(3), p. e0150602.
17. Bhattacharya, S. K., Bose, R., Ghosh, P., Tripathi, V. J., et al. (1978) ‘Psychopharmacological studies on (-)-nuciferine and its Hofmann degradation product atherosperminine’. Psychopharmacology, 59(1), pp. 29–33.
18. Agnihotri, Vijai K., ElSohly, Hala N., Khan, Shabana I., Smillie, Troy J., et al. (2008) ‘Antioxidant constituents of Nymphaea caerulea flowers’. Phytochemistry, 69(10), pp. 2061–2066.
19. Lotus/Lily Reports. [website] Available from: https://www.erowid.org/experiences/subs/exp_Lotus_I_Lily.shtml (Accessed 24 April 2020)
20. Rondzisty, A., Dziekan, K. and Kowalska, A. (2015) ‘Psychoactive plants used in designer drugs as a threat to public health’. Herba Polonica, 61(2), pp. 73–86.
23. Simonienko, K., Waszkiewicz, N. and Szulc, A. (2013) ‘Psychoactive plant species -actual list of plants prohibited in Poland’. Psychiatria polska, 47(3), pp. 499–510.
24. Ancuceanu, R. V., Dinu, M., Anghel, I., Rebegea, O. C., et al. (2010) ‘Recent prohibition of certain psychoactive “ethnobotanicals” in Romania’. Farmacia, 58, pp. 121–127.
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