What is Blue Lotus?
Blue lotus, or Nymphaea caerulea, is a water lily with strong ties to Ancient Egyptian civilization. The plant has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years as a natural aphrodisiac, sleep aid, and anxiety reliever.
The flower is also called blue Egyptian lotus, blue water lily or sacred blue lily — not to be confused with Nelumbo nucifera, which also goes by the name blue lotus.
In recent years, blue lotus has been making a stronger appearance in the kava bar scene, with a growing number of bars brewing it into tea. After drinking the tea, many people report experiencing a gentle mood lift or a calming of anxiety, while others drink it for its aphrodisiacal properties.
Siesta Botanicals carries high-quality blue lotus flower if you’re interested in brewing your own tea at home.
Blue lotus flower contains antioxidants like flavonoids (help regulate cellular activity and fight off free radicals), quercetin (tied to improved exercise performance and reduced inflammation), kaempferol (may reduce risk of chronic disease), and myricetin.
A diet high in antioxidants is tied to a reduced risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and some types of cancer.
History & Mythology of the Blue Lotus
Historians believe blue lotus was once used as a traditional medicine to treat an array of conditions and disorders. In ancient times, blue lotus likely grew along the Nile and other parts of East Africa and spread throughout the Indian subcontinent and Thailand. The flowers have blue, bluish-white or mauve petals which fade to a pale yellow in the flower’s center.
The plant played a significant role in Ancient Egyptian culture and mythology, as it was often depicted in Egyptian papyri and art, including in stone paintings and carvings — for example, on the walls of the temple of Karnak. The plant is frequently seen in ancient art depicting “party scenes” such as dancing or magical rites into the afterlife. King Tut’s mummy was covered with blue lotus flowers.
The plant was seen as a symbol of the sun, as the flowers close at night and open in sunlight. In Egyptian mythology, the Egyptian deity Nefertem was believed to be a lotus flower who had risen from the primordial waters. Nefertem represents the first sunlight as well as the scent of the Egyptian blue lotus flower. In fact, the flower’s delightful scent has long been used in perfumes and aromatherapy.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), “It has been speculated that the flower was used in ancient Egyptian culture as part of healing and shamanistic rituals dating back to the fourteenth century B.C. Today, blue lotus flower is used as a sleep aid and anxiety reliever, but has also been described as a mild stimulant.”
A version of the Book of the Dead says “Rise like Nefertem from the blue water lily, to the nostrils of Ra (the creator and sungod), and come forth upon the horizon each day.”
Blue Lotus Active Properties
N. caerulea is considered an entheogenic substance, which is said to alter one’s consciousness in a spiritual or religious manner. The two main compounds responsible for the flower’s medicinal effects are called apomorphine and nuciferine. The buds and flowers are the psychoactive components of the plant.
Apomorphine is a compound that acts as a dopamine agonist, meaning a compound that can activate dopamine receptors. There is evidence that this compound may help those with muscle control issues and erectile dysfunction.
Researchers have been particularly interested in apomorphine’s effects on Parkinson’s disease symptoms. In one research article, the authors write “Apomorphine, a short-acting D1- and D2-like receptor agonist, is the only drug proven to have an efficacy equal to that of levodopa, albeit with a shorter time to onset and effect duration.”
“Clinical trials have shown that intermittent apomorphine injections provide rapid and effective relief from unpredictable ‘off’ periods. Continuous apomorphine infusion reduced around 50% of the daily ‘off’ time in several studies.”
Nuciferine is a compound believed to act as an antipsychotic substance that can induce feelings of calm and help with erectile dysfunction. Nuciferine is also of interest to researchers for its antipsychotic and anti-tumor properties.
According to the authors of a recent study, “Pharmaco- or psycho-active compounds in traditional medicines or in plants used during neoshamanic rituals can sometimes lead to the (re-) discovery of new drugs for chronic pain, anxiety, depression or schizophrenia.”
“Neoshamanic rituals fulfill the needs for healing and transformation of a number of people, who are partly dissatisfied with the absence of certain healing aspects in western medicine. A recent neoshamanic ritual is based on the administration of a resin from the Blue Nile Flower (Nymphaea caerulea), also referred to as Blue Lotus or Sacred Blue Lily of the Nile).”
“Nuciferine has an enriched pharmacological profile, with affinities for a number of serotonergic and dopaminergic receptors. Nuciferine and its derivatives might lead to a new family of atypical antipsychotic compounds.”
“Furthermore, a recent identified mechanism of action related to its anti-inflammatory activity, suggest this molecule might also play a role in the treatment of depression and posttraumatic stress disorder.”
Of course, if you are brewing it as a tea, these two compounds would be in far less concentration and also be mixed with the psychoactive qualities of the buds and leaves.
It is speculated that blue lotus had traditionally been made into a tea or soaked in wine and/ or rolled into a cigarette made of the dried plant material. According to Entheology.org, “Details are speculative and difficult to come by, but a noted, ancient method to extract the psychoactive properties from the blue lotus is to boil six buds or flowers that have already opened and closed again in water. The flowers should be squeezed in a linen cloth so that their greenish brown juice runs into the water.”
According to the site, there is historical evidence to suggest that blue lotus was effectively used to relieve pain, increase memory and circulation, boost sexual desire and induce a feeling of euphoria without the use of narcotics. In Ancient Egypt, blue lotus was used as a tonic similar to ginseng.
According to Healthline, “Consuming blue lotus flower may make you feel “high” and result in a gentle euphoria. Some people have drawn comparisons to the high you experience after consuming cannabis, though this can be largely individual.”