23 October, 2011
Are There Dangers of Lotus Tea?
The fragrant lotus tea is a Vietnamese beverage served during the country’s New Year’s celebrations, a holiday known as Tet. Scientific evidence exists suggesting that the lotus has medicinal value. Yet, research into its benefits and dangers to humans are still lacking, with information often deriving from scientists observing the plant’s effects on animals. Before drinking lotus tea, discuss the pros and cons with your doctor.
Lotus Tea Traditional Uses
A blend of lotus leaf tea and lotus leaf juice treats sunstroke in Asia. Producers also add lotus leaves to other teas for their antioxidants, which protect cells from damage by molecules called free radicals. Authors Michio Kushi and Alex Jack, in “The Book of Macrobiotics: The Universal Way of Health, Happiness, and Peace” also say that lotus root tea relieves coughing by breaking down mucus.
The information site Drugs.com warns against taking lotus products together with drugs for diabetes, high cholesterol, impotence, heart problems and psychiatric disorders. The online service mentions the risk of adverse reactions without elaborating on how any of the listed combinations can affect your health.
In a study described on Drugs.com, a lotus seed extract inhibited the production of estrogen and progesterone in mice, thus creating a contraceptive effect. It remains to be studied whether the anti-diarrhea tea made from the lotus seeds has the same power and whether it affects women. Until that is known, anyone wanting to become pregnant should consult her doctor for other treatments for loose bowels.
In another study noted by Drugs.com, an alcohol-based extract of lotus stalks administered to rats caused a drop in normal body temperature. The change lasted three to six hours, varying with the dose the animals received. In humans, hypothermia -- abnormally low body temperature -- causes multiple-organ dysfunction. Severe cases can be fatal. Regarding lotus, humans and hypothermia, science has yet to elucidate whether the human body reacts in the same way as the rat's if the animal drinks tea made of lotus stalk. It is also important to determine how severe the drop in temperature is and at what dose it becomes problematic.
- Koto; Tracey Lister, et al.; 2011
- Drugs.com: Sacred Lotus
- Journal of Ethnopharmacology; Anti-obesity Effect of Nelumbo nucifera Leaves Extract in Mice and Rats; Y. Ono, et al.
- The Book of Macrobiotics: The Universal Way of Health, Happiness, and Peace; Michio Kushi and Alex Jack; 1987
- Institute for Traditional Medicine: Lotus Seed: Food and Medicine
- MayoClinic.com: Hypothermia -- Definition
- Medioimages/Photodisc/Valueline/Getty Images