What is Blue Lotus Flower?
Blue lotus is a plant that has been used for thousands of years as a sacred, spiritual flower and a medicinal herb. Notably, blue lotus contains specific compounds that give it psychoactive properties.
Because of its psychoactive nature, there are a lot of questions surrounding whether blue lotus is safe (or legal) to use. It does have some traditional benefits and uses but also some side effects to be aware of.
Blue lotus (Nymphaea caerulea) is a type of water lily that is native to Egypt and certain regions in Asia. It can be grown as an ornamental flower for its lovely appearance and sweet smell and has seen a lot of use in traditional medicine.
Unsurprisingly, the richest accounts of blue lotus flower come from Egyptian records and culture.
To the ancient Egyptians, blue lotus was a sacred plant that had connections to both Ra (the sun god) and Osiris (the god of the underworld). It was also likely a symbol of rebirth, since the petals open with the sun and close at dusk.
Because of this blue lotus was frequently a part of rituals and spiritual ceremonies. It also had medicinal uses as a sedative, an aphrodisiac, and possibly as a narcotic-like herb. Blue Lotus has been revered for centuries for its potential to alleviate stress, anxiety, and insomnia. and even used as an aphrodisiac.
Today, interest in blue lotus flower mainly centers around their psychoactive properties and potential to induce mild euphoria.
What are the Benefits Blue Lotus Flower?
Does Blue Lotus have mind-altering properties?
Many people have used blue lotus throughout the years because of its mind-altering effects (a more modern term for psychoactive). Proponents designate it as an entheogen, which is a psychoactive substance specifically used for spiritual or religious experiences.
Researchers believe that the effects of blue lotus are mainly due to the presence of two specific compounds: apomorphine and nuciferine. (1)
Apomorphine is a known psychoactive compound that acts as a dopamine agonist. This means it activates dopamine receptors to produce a feeling of euphoria.
Nuciferine, on the other hand, appears to induce feelings of calmness and has shown potential as an antipsychotic drug.
When taken in high enough amounts, blue lotus induces euphoria and can trigger visual hallucinations. Most accounts describe this experience as mild and lasting for a period of 2-3 hours.
May Have a Calming Effect
Like most herbs, blue lotus does not just have a single effect. While it has euphoric and mind-altering properties in high doses, lower amounts of blue lotus flower appear to have more of a calming effect that may help with an anxious mood.
In fact, blue lotus has been fairly popular for anxiety relief, even in ancient times, although there hasn't been any research to date to confirm these properties.
However, apomorphine, one of the compounds in blue lotus, has been used for depression and other mental health disorders in the past. It's now mainly used to help manage the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. (2)
May Promote Sleep and Lucid Dreams
Because of its calming effects, another potential benefit of blue lotus is sleep promotion. It has a long history of use for treating insomnia (likely dating back to ancient Egypt), but once again, no modern studies have confirmed the effectiveness of blue lotus as a sleep aid. (1)
Besides simply aiding sleep, blue lotus flower has also been used to stimulate lucid dreaming- dreams in which you are aware you are dreaming and may be able to have some control over what happens in the dream.
For those interested, mugwort is another herb that is used for lucid dreams and does not come with the psychoactive effects of blue lotus.
Used as an Aphrodisiac
Aphrodisiacs are substances that stimulate sexual desire. Various herbs have been considered aphrodisiacs throughout the years, and blue lotus is one of them. Yet again, this use dates all the way back to ancient Egypt.
Besides simply acting as an aphrodisiac, blue lotus has also been used as a natural remedy for erectile dysfunction (ED). This could be because of the presence of apomorphine, which has shown potential in studies for treating ED. (3)
What are the Side Effects of Blue Lotus?
There's no doubt that blue lotus has a rich tradition of use as a medicinal herb and mind-altering substance. However, there are certain safety concerns to be aware of.
To begin with, the very properties of blue lotus have the potential to become unwanted "side effects". There are numerous documented cases of patients in the ER with symptoms like confusion, anxiety, paranoia, slurred speech, chest pain, disorientation, and drowsiness from inhaling or consuming blue lotus flower. (4)
While the Blue Lotus Flower has a storied past and numerous potential benefits, it is essential to approach its consumption with caution. Limited scientific research exists on the herb, and potential risks may include:
Allergic Reactions: Individuals with allergies to similar plants, such as water lilies, may experience allergic reactions when consuming Blue Lotus.
Interaction with Medications: The herb's compounds could interact with medications, potentially amplifying or diminishing their effects. Consultation with a healthcare professional is advisable, especially for those on prescription drugs.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Pregnant or breastfeeding individuals should exercise caution, as the effects of Blue Lotus on fetal development or nursing infants are not well understood.
In most cases, symptoms seem to resolve without treatment within 3-4 hours but can be severe while they last.
Those taking dopamine-related drugs should avoid blue lotus as should anyone who is pregnant, breastfeeding, or dealing with a medical issue.
Another very important concern is that the supplement industry is highly unregulated, and blue lotus is still relatively rare on the market. Add to this the fact that blue lotus plants are endangered, and you want to be very careful where you buy this herb.
You may end up with a product that contains no blue lotus at all or is contaminated with toxins.
Another alternative to blue lotus flower to consider is mugwort for sleep and lucid dreaming.
Is Blue Lotus Flower Legal?
There are some interesting legality issues surrounding blue lotus in the U.S.
Technically, it is completely legal to grow, sell, buy, or possess the flower. The only exception to this is in the state of Louisiana where it is illegal to grow blue lotus for human consumption or buy, sell, trade, consume, etc. (It can, however, be grown as a landscape plant or used for ornamental purposes.)
Despite the fact that it is legal in most of the country, the FDA has not approved it for human use. In short, it can be bought, sold, and consumed (except in Louisiana) but is not backed by the FDA as safe to consume.
Blue lotus is legal in most other countries as well but not all. If you live outside the U.S., check with the regulations of your country before buying or consuming.
Common Forms of Blue Lotus & Alternatives
Blue lotus is commonly sold as a tea or in smoking and vaping blends. The effects of the flower are much stronger if smoked or vaped, so exercise caution if you ever try consuming it that way. The tea is typically preferred for sleep and/or calming effects.
Other less common forms of blue lotus include an essential oil, wine, and other alcoholic beverages.
Due to side effects and safety concerns, you may wish to avoid blue lotus altogether and choose an alternative herb.
Mugwort is a top choice for lucid dreaming and can also be used in a smoking blend. For sleep and a calmer mood, catnip is a great option as are chamomile, lavender, and this Sweet Slumber herbal tea.
Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice and should not be substituted for medical advice. Please consult your health care provider, herbalist, midwife, or naturopathic physician before taking herbs, supplements, etc. Here's the link to our full disclaimer.