What is Lian Zi?
(scientific name:Nelumbo nucifere Gaertn.
), is the seeds of the aquatic herbaceous plant, the lotus, which belongs to the family Nymphaeaceae. They are also known as lotus seeds, lotus nuts, or lotus meat. The lotus is also referred to as the water lily or the water rose. Lotus seeds are produced in most regions of China, but those produced in Hunan are considered the best. Lianzi have the effects of tonifying the Spleen and stopping diarrhea, reinforcing the kidney and securing essence, nurturing the Heart and calming the mind. They are often used for Spleen deficiency and chronic diarrhea, spermatorrhea and leukorrhea, as well as Heart palpitations and insomnia.Lian Zi
are found inside small and delicate lotus pods, which are cone-shaped and have a diameter of 5 to 10 cm with 20-30 small holes, each containing one nut. The nut is oval or egg-shaped, measuring 1.5 to 2.5 cm in length and has a leathery and hard rind. When it is ripe, it becomes dark brown. The seed is oval or elliptical, measuring up to 1.2 to 1.7 cm in length, and the seed coat is either red or white. Lotus blooms from June to August and the fruit ripens from August to October. Due to its hard outer shell, the lotus seed was referred to as the "stone lotus seed" in ancient times. Lian Zi are generally named after their place of origin or their shape, and are broadly classified into Xianglian, Xuanlian, Honglian, Bailian, Tongxinlian, and Kelian. The Xianglian produced in Xiangtan and Anxiang in Hunan, the Xuanlian produced in Wuyi Xuanping in Zhejiang, and the Jianlian produced in Jianyang and Jianning in Fujian are the three most famous types, both domestically and internationally.Lian Zi
have been recognized as a delicious and nutritious food suitable for all ages since ancient times. They can be used for cooking dishes, soups, stewing, making candied fruits, and baking pastries, and can be combined with other medicinal foods such as Poria, Chinese yam, white atractylodes rhizome, and goji berries, as recorded in the Compendium of Materia Medica.
Lotus seed is slightly oval or spherical in shape, 1.2 to 1.8cm in length and 0.8 to 1.4cm in diameter. The surface is light yellowish brown to reddish brown, with fine longitudinal lines and wider veins. At one end of the seed, there is a nipple-shaped protrusion in the center that is dark brown and often cracked, with a slight depression around it. The texture is hard and the skin is thin and difficult to peel. There are two fleshy, yellow-white cotyledons with a green lotus plumule in the center. They have a sweet and slightly bitter taste and no odor. The lotus plumule is extremely bitter.
Large and plump lotus seeds are considered the best.
Growth environment of Lian Zi
Lotus seeds grow in water bodies, ponds, lakes, or paddy fields, both wild or cultivated, and they prefer a warm and humid climate.
Harvest and processing of Lian Zi
Hu Zhang is harvested and dug in spring and autumn, with its fibrous roots removed, and the rest of the rhizome washed clean. It is then cut into short sections or thick pieces and dried in the sun. Fresh roots can be used anytime. Nowadays, it is usually cut into slices, soaked in alcohol, or made into pills or powder.
When the lotus seeds are ripe, pick the lotus pod and remove the nuts, then peel off the outer skin or remove the green lotus plumule . They can be used fresh or dried.
Alternatively, put the lotus seeds in a pot of water, boil them, then cut them open, remove the skin, and get dried up.
Lotus seeds should be stored in a dry and cool place, as they are susceptible to molding when exposed to moisture, and the bitterness of the lotus plumule will affect the whole quality of the lotus seed when exposed to heat. If the lotus seeds become moldy, they should be immediately sun-dried or roasted in a fire. After sun-drying, they should be aired for two days in straight to disperse the heat and completely cool down before being stored again. The lotus seeds may have a different color and texture, and their flavor and medicinal effects may also be affected after being handled like above.
Lian Zi TCM
The dried mellow seeds of the lotus plant (Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn) of the water lily family.
Fresh lotus seeds have a sweet and astringent taste, bland and non-toxic.
Dried lotus seeds have a sweet and astringent taste, warm in nature and non-toxic.
Enter the Spleen, Kidney, and Heart meridians.
Lian Zi has the effects of Heart-relieving, Spleen-refreshing and stopping diarrhea, mental tranquilizing, improving eyesight, strengthening the Middle Jiao, tonifying the Spleen and Stomach, preventing premature ejaculation, treating excessive leukorrhea and promoting Qi circulation.
Lian Zi is used for treating restlessness, insomnia, prolonged diarrhea due to Spleen deficiency, loose stools, long-term dysentery, waist pain, spermatorrhea in men, and excessive leukorrhea in women. Lian Zi can also help prevent premature birth, miscarriage, and lower back pain during pregnancy.
Decoction, 6-15g, or take in pills or powder form.
Lian Zi is not suitable for those with fullness and distension in the middle Jiao or constipation.
(1)Shennong Bencao Jing, lotus seeds mainly tonify Middle Jiao, nourish the mind, and promote Qi.
(2)Materia Medica Xi Yi, lotus seeds promote hair growth and delay aging.
(3)Shi Yi Xin Jing, lotus seeds alleviate thirst and clear inner-heat.
(4)Rihuazi Bencao, lotus seeds promote Qi, alleviate thirst, assist the functions of the Heart, and stop dysentery. They also help to treat waist pain and spermatorrhea in man.
(5)Riyong Bencao, lotus seeds help tranquilize restlessness and thirst, treat diarrhea and dysentery, and stop leukorrhea.
(6)Diannan Bencao, lotus seeds clear the Heart and resolve inner-heat.
(7)Gangmu, lotus seeds work on the Heart and Kidney, nourish the Intestines and Stomach, tonify the essence and Qi, strengthen the tendons and bones, replenish deficiency, benefit hearing and eyesight, dispel cold and dampness, stop prolonged diarrhea due to Spleen deficiency, stop excessive leukorrhea, and treat various blood disorders including profuse menstruation.
(1)For weak Stomach after illness
Fry 200g of lotus seeds and glutinous rice each, and 100g of Poria. Grind into powder, mix with rock sugar. Drink with Bai Tang. (Shi Cai San Shu)
(2)For Stomach upset
Grind lotus seeds into powder, mix with some cardamom powder, drink with hot rice soup. (Ren Zhai Zhi Zhi Fang)
(3)For postpartum cold Stomach, cough, vomiting, and no appetite, or abdominal distention
75g of lotus seeds, 50g of white Poria, 25g of cloves. Grind into powder, take 10g each time, drink with ginger soup or rice soup three times a day. (Fu Ren Liang Fang)
(4)For long-term dysentery
100g of aged lotus seeds (remove the plumule), grind into powder, take one qian each time, drink with Chen-cang-mi rice soup. (Shi Yi De Xiao Fang)
(5)For dysentery and inability to eat
50g of fresh lotus seeds, 25g of coptis, and 25g of ginseng. Decoct in water until thickened and drink. (Ben Cao Jing Shu)
(1) Lian Zi contains carbohydrates (62%), protein (6.6%), fat (2.0%), calcium (0.089%), phosphorus (0.285%), and iron (0.0064%).
(2) Fatty acid composition in the fat include myristic acid (0.04%), palmitic acid (17.32%), oleic acid (21.91%), linoleic acid (54.17%), and linolenic acid (6.19%).
(3) The seed itself contains higenamine.
(4) The seedshell contains nuciferine, nornciferine, oxoushinsunine, and N-norarmepavine.
Lian Zi benefits
In Chinese culture, it has been said that eating lotus seeds can restore youth and longevity. While this may not be entirely true, traditional Chinese medicine literature have recorded the medicinal properties of lotus seeds in nourishing the mind and calming the spirit, promoting brain function, and relieving fatigue. This is well documented in ancient medical classics like Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, Ben Cao Shi Yi, Ben Cao Gang Mu and Ben Cao Bei Yao. Modern pharmacological research has also confirmed that lotus seeds have sedative, cardiotonic, and anti-aging effects. Lotus seeds are highly nutritious, containing a large amount of starch, β-sitosterol, alkaloids, and abundant minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron, and vitamins. 100 grams of lotus seeds contain 89 milligrams of calcium, up to 285 milligrams of phosphorus, and while potassium is less than 2.1 milligrams, it ranks first among all animal and plant foods.
When used as a healthy food apart from being taken as medicine, lotus seeds are usually consumed whole, including the green plumule, which is bitter in taste but has a strong effect of clearing inner-heat, conserving essence, calming the mind, and tonifying the Heart. Soaking 2g of lotus plumule in boiling water and drinking it can effectively treat symptoms like restlessness, confusion, and spermatorrhea caused by high fever, as well as high blood pressure, dizziness, headache, palpitations, and insomnia.
Lian Zi side effects
Generally, lotus seeds do not have obvious toxicity, but long-term and excessive consumption may damage the Spleen and Stomach, leading to symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, and indigestion. Therefore, for people with weak Spleen and Stomach function or existing symptoms of diarrhea or constipation, it is generally not recommended to eat lotus seeds in order to avoid exacerbating the symptoms.
How to take Lian Zi?
Classic Medicine Cuisine
(1)Lotus Seed Cake
200g lotus seeds, 200g glutinous rice (or regular rice), and 100g tuckahoe (peeled) are stir-fried until fragrant, then ground into fine powder. Add an appropriate amount of granulated sugar and mix well. Add water to form a paste, steam until thoroughly cooked, and then cut into pieces after cooled.
This recipe is from the book, Shi Cai San Shu. Tuckahoe is a traditional herb that invigorates the Spleen and eliminates dampness. When steamed together with lotus seed and glutinous rice, it has an excellent Spleen-strengthening and Stomach-benefiting effect, and is often used to treat Spleen and Stomach weakness, indigestion, and loose stools.
(2)Lotus Seed Porridge
Soak 20g of lotus seeds until they swell up, remove the outer layer and the plumule. Place the clensed lotus seeds in a pot with water and cook until they become soft.
Take 100g of glutinous rice, rinse thoroughly, add water and cook until it becomes a thin porridge. Add the prepared lotus seeds and some sugar to the porridge, simmer for a few more minutes before consuming.
(3)Lotus Seed Soup
Red dates 100g, Tremella 50g, lotus seeds 100g, lily 100g, and an appropriate amount of brown sugar. Wash all the ingredients in water. Add an appropriate amount of water to the pot, put in all the ingredients, cook until done. Finally add some brown sugar to taste.
(4)Rock Sugar Lotus Seed
Soak the lotus seeds in water for a period of time, add some rock sugar and steam. Simmer until thickened before consuming.
(5)Lotus Seed, Lily, and Ophiopogon Soup
15g lotus seeds (with the plumule), 30g lily, and 12g Ophiopogon are mixed together, decocted in water before consuming.
(6)Lotus Seed and Lean Meat Soup
30g lotus seeds and 30g lean meat are stewed together. This recipe is especially recommended for middle-aged or elderly people, especially those who often conduct mental work, as it can tranquilize the mind, calm the nerves, enhance memory, and improve work efficiency.
How to choose Lian Zi?
Look at the color of the lotus seeds. Nature and high-quality lotus seeds have a slightly yellowish color. Bleached lotus seeds have a uniform and visually appealing bright white color.
Then check the smell of the lotus seeds. Natural and high-quality lotus seeds have a light fragrance that becomes stronger after being dried. However, the bleached lotus seeds may have a pungent odor.
Finally, check the sound of the lotus seeds. In order to be stored for a long time, the lotus seeds must be thoroughly dried. High-quality dry lotus seeds should make a clear and crisp sound when being scooped.
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