the bottom line
Throughout human history the lotus flower has been treasured as a sacred symbol of purity and vitality, with depictions of this plant adorning the walls of Hindu temples and Egyptian tombs. But you may not know about the hidden secrets of this powerful flower. In addition to being valued for its soothing and astringent properties, the lotus flower's purifying and restoring nature makes this ingredient a treasure for skincare.
first layer: the science
This mysterious plant extends its roots to the soil of a river or pond bottom, while its leaves float on the surface of the water. The large flowers are found on thick stems which rise a few centimeters above the leaves. The lotus has some serious longevity, and can live for over a thousand years, even being successfully germinated after many years of rest.
Native to India, Tibet, and China, all parts of the lotus plant (Nelumbo nucifera) have been used in both traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. But modern science loves the lotus too – the whole plant has been used as an astringent, an anti-inflammatory, and to treat diabetes. Extract from the roots can also treat diabetes and inflammation, while the leaves can help to stop bleeding. The flowers themselves have proven to be effective in easing fever.1
second layer: the spirit
The spiritual history of the lotus dates back to the ancient Egyptians, who cultivated the lotus along the Nile River. The blue lotus (technically a waterlily, but we won’t quibble) is depicted in hieroglyphs and in tombs. The Egyptian Book of the Dead fantastically includes spells which can transform a person into a lotus flower, bringing about resurrection. Like the sun with which it is associated, the lotus disappears at night and reappears in the morning.2
Buddhist tradition associates the lotus flower with faith, purity, and spiritual awakening. The symbolism of a beautiful flower emerging from muddy waters suggests rebirth and enlightenment. The various colors of the lotus even have different meanings, with the blue lotus representing spiritual victory over our physical compulsions, and the white lotus symbolizing the awakened state of mental purity and spiritual perfection. The purple lotus, in contrast, is mystical in nature, its eight petals believed to represent the Noble Eightfold Path, one of the main teachings of the Buddha. The red lotus represents love and compassion, while the pink lotus flower is considered to be the true lotus of the Buddha.2
In the Hindu tradition, too, the white lotus flower also plays a pivotal role in its association with beauty, fertility, prosperity, spirituality, and eternity. The unfolding petals of the lotus flower represent the expansion of the soul, while the mud from which it emerges contains spiritual promise.2
third layer: the body
Lotus root contains high levels of vitamin C; copper; vitamins B1, B2, and B6; and manganese. Vitamin C and copper promote collagen synthesis in the skin, while both vitamin C and manganese act as anti-oxidants. Vitamin C also plays a role in fighting hyperpigmentation. The B vitamins are critical for our health, so ingesting your lotus works, too. Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is critical for the healthy function of our organs, including the brain and heart. Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) helps the body to break down fats (hooray), and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) helps us to make new red blood cells.4 All in a day’s work for our lovely lotus.
A little plug: anokha’s award-winning lotus flower & rosewater toner embraces the essence of rose petals and sacred lotus flower extract to soften and nourish the skin. Combined with gotu kola and burdock root, it presents the perfect palette for flawless skin.
All this and more at www.anokhaskincare.com .
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1Paudel KR, Panth N. Phytochemical profile and biological activity of Nelumbo nucifera. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2015:789124.