A lotus has its roots in murky depths but miraculously rises through the water. When it reaches the light, it looks pristine. You can clearly see why it represents in many cultures our strength and resilience to withstand the dark and grow into the light. In many regions, especially in eastern cultures it’s considered one of the most sacred plants.
For the spiritually and religiously inclined, the lotus flower link it with inner strength, purity, and renewal. For the foodies, we think of stir-fry with lotus roots or lotus seed dessert.
Nowadays, it made the jump from arts and cuisine: It has become a popular skin care ingredient. You can find it in all kinds of products, from serums and creams to toners and even micellar water.
Although this flower has been used in traditional medicine since people kept records, not many are aware of the benefits it provides to our skin, hair, and health.
A little bit about the lotus flower
Did you know that lotus is also considered a living fossil along with other relic plants such as gingko or sequoia? It survived geological changes and the last ice age, changes where most plants in the northern hemisphere went extinct.
Did you know that the flower can survive for more than a thousand years and still sprout? In northeastern China, lotus seeds from 1300 years ago were found in a dry lakebed and they started growing when planted, even after all this time.
The dates were carbon dated putting them at well over a thousand years old. This is why it’s a symbol of vitality and longevity for the Chinese.
Unlike any other plant, lotus has a unique life cycle. The roots are planted in the soil of a pond, lake, or river. Literally, its starts life in muddy depths and rises through the water. Its leaves and flowers float above water.
Every night it submerges into the murky water and blooms again the next morning, spotlessly clean. This process has led many cultures to link it with revival and regeneration. It looks like it goes daily through life, death, and re-emerges again.
The environment also plays a part in the symbolism the flower has. It finds sanctuary in the muck, but grows from the muddy depths, presenting itself above the water’s surface, with sparklingly clean leaves and flowers. Hence it symbolises the idea of purity and transcendence.
There are many types of lotus flowers. What we typically call lotus is Nelumbo nucifera. It’s also called Indian Lotus, or sacred Lotus.
The lotus can produce flowers of varying sizes from 18cm up to 30cm, even 35cm have been reported. Its leaves can grow as large as 80 cm in diameter. It grows in water up to 2.5m deep. It needs at least a depth of 30cm to grow.
Lotus in arts and culture
Lotus is a sacred plant in Hinduism and Buddhism. Ever heard of the lotus position? It’s a sitting position, important both for Buddhist meditation and yoga practice.
In Asian art, you often find a lotus throne used as a base for a figure. It’s a stylised lotus flower. The lotus seat on which most divine figures sit or stand symbolises their purity.
Given the cultural and religious significance, you’re surely not surprised when it’s also often used in art and architecture.
Lotus in culinary arts
You surely have seen lotus flowers as ornaments and offerings in temples. Each part of the lotus is treasured and can be used or eaten.
Young lotus leaves can be eaten as vegetables or mixed into salads. Leaves that are too fibrous and tough to eat can be used to wrap rice. Very sustainable, environmentally friendly packaging.
You can eat the lotus seeds raw when the pods are still young. Dried seeds are often used in sweet dishes.
The lotus roots are widely used as a vegetable in Indian, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine. They can be also made into preserved slices.
The flowers themselves can be made into lotus flower tea.
Even the pollen has its uses, although not culinary but medicinal. It’s used in traditional Asian medicine just as the other edible parts.
So why use lotus in skin care?
Every part of the plant is valuable and can be used in medicine and skin care. In essence, it’s rich in minerals and antioxidants
It contains many flavonoids and alkaloids that act as antioxidants. Hence it’s been used for centuries for its medicinal and preservative properties.
Since it’s a natural preservative, people sometimes add powdered lotus flowers when they’re making kimchi. It not only extends how long kimchi stays fresh but also enhances the health benefits.
Consuming lotus with its high antioxidant content is beneficial because it can help protect against diseases that stem from oxidative stress.
Just going through your day, your body makes free radicals due to sun or air pollution exposure. If these build up in your body, it can lead to oxidative stress, which damages cells and can contribute to disease development.
As for your skin, you may see changes such as fine lines or changes in colour and texture. Antioxidants float around and help neutralise these free radicals and can so ward off oxidative stress.
Regulate and balance
If you’re prone to oily skin and want to prevent clogged pores. Lotus may assist with oil control, especially if you find a product that also contains green tea. It’ll regulate the amount of natural oil your sebaceous glands.
Enhance blood flow
The antioxidants have several roles, not only scavenging free radicals. They can also improve blood circulation which brings essential nutrients to your skin and takes away any waste.
Another role antioxidants play is that they can calm red and irritated skin. Research shows how anti-inflammatory properties. science, lotus https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24312388/ can help sensitised skin.
You’ll find lotus in countless products. If you can get your hands on fresh lotus flowers, you can also go the DYI route. Feel free to tell me if you want recipes for face packs