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Botanical Name : Nymphaea caerules
Species: N. caerulea
Habitat :Nymphaea caerules is native to Nile and other parts of East Africa. It spread more widely in ancient times, including to the Indian Subcontinent and Thailand. It grows in water like any other water lily.
The leaves are broadly rounded, 25–40 cm across, with a notch at the leaf stem. The flowers are 10–15 cm in diameter. Reports in the literature by persons unfamiliar with its actual growth and blooming cycle have suggested that the flowers open in the morning, rising to the surface of the water, then close and sink at dusk. In fact, the flower buds rise to the surface over a period of two to three days, and when ready, open at approximately 9–9:30 am and close about 3 pm. The flowers and buds do not rise above the water in the morning, nor do they submerge at night. The flowers have pale bluish-white to sky-blue or mauve petals, smoothly changing to a pale yellow in the centre of the flower.
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Religion and art:
Along with the white lotus Nymphaea lotus, also native to Egypt, the plant and flower is very frequently depicted in Egyptian art. It has been depicted in numerous stone carvings and paintings, including the walls of the famous temple of Karnak. It is frequently depicted in connection with “party scenes”, dancing or in significant spiritual / magical rites such as the rite of passage into the afterlife. N. caerulea was considered extremely significant in Egyptian mythology, regarded as a symbol of the sun, since the flowers are closed at night and open again in the morning. At Heliopolis, the origin of the world was taught to have been when the sun-god Ra emerged from a lotus flower growing in “primordial waters”. At night he was believed to retreat into the flower again. Due to its colour, it was identified, in some beliefs, as having been the original container, in a similar manner to an egg, of Atum, and in similar beliefs Ra, both solar deities. As such, its properties form the origin of the lotus variant of the Ogdoad cosmogeny. It was the symbol of the Egyptian deity Nefertem…..click & see: Ancient Egyptian funerary stele showing a dead man, named Ba, seated in the center, sniffing a sacred lily. New Kingdom, Dynasty XVIII, c. 1550–1292 BC.
Properties and uses:
There is evidence that the clinical effects of plants including N. caerulea that contain the psychoactive alkaloid apomorphine were known to both the Mayans and the Ancient Egyptians.
The mildly sedating effects of N. caerulea makes it a likely candidate (among several) for the lotus plant eaten by the mythical Lotophagi in Homer’s Odyssey. This lotus has been used to produce perfumes since ancient times; it is also used in aromatherapy.
An aphrodisiac for both men and women as well as a general remedy for all illness enhancing sexual vigor and general good health. A tonic like ginseng, pain reliever like arnica, circulation stimulant richer than ginkgo biloba, and sexual stimulant richer than Viagra. It creates a feeling of well being, euphoria and ecstasy, as well as being widely used as a general remedy against illness, and is still used as a tonic for good health, consumed as an extract, 6-12 drops or up to 1 tsp to 1 Tbs in juice taken 1 to 3 times daily. Traditionally, fresh Blue Lotus was made into a tea or drank after being soaked in wine, usually followed by a cigarette made of the dried plant material. Dried flowers are sometimes smoked for a mild sedative effect. By itself, Lotus produces an opiate-like intoxication. Traditionally, Nymphaea caerulea was drunk after being soaked in warm water or wine, while the dried flowers were also smoked. About 5 grams of dried petals steeped in small amount of alcohol for a few hours to a week is said to have a synergistic effect with the Lotus, producing a euphoria. The overall effect of this combination is a narcotic empathogenic experience. According to recent studies, Blue Lily was found to be loaded with health-giving phytosterols and bioflavonoids. It turned out to be one of the greatest daily health tonics ever found.
According to Shaman Australis, (2009), “The story of the sacred Blue Lotus makes a mockery of modern science. It has been known for several years now that this species is psychoactive to some degree, but little concrete knowledge exists in the scientific arena and the psychoactive effect is vigorously disputed by conservative scientists. So a couple of wiseguy pharmacologists decided to make a name for themselves by researching the active constituents and making a documentary about it. It is shown on the discovery channel and other media, and once you’ve experienced the effects of Blue Lotus you will understand just how ridiculous their research is. In years to come it will be better suited for the comedy channel.
First they compared the Mass Spectrometer analysis of a mummy with that of some Blue Lotus flowers with the result that they matched. This indicated that the mummy had consumed Sacred Blue Lotus not long before his death. They also looked for narcotics in the mummy and found none. The substances found were listed as phosphodiastrates, bioflavonoids and phytosterols. The first is similar to viagra, the second group is common in many fresh foods, and the last is similar to the known active constituent of Ginko biloba. At no stage in the research did they bother trying to consume a flower or an extract and this is where one has to wonder what the purpose of science is if it only serves to prove the absolute. The result of their expensive and drawn out study was that the “mild” activity of sacred Blue Lotus is due to the phytosterols. It is obvious that this conclusion can be dimissed as poor science, poor logic and above all poor representation of the lily itself.
Blue Lotus was assumed to contain nuciferine (1,2-dimethoxy-aporphine) just like Nelumbo nucifera, but this does not appear to be so according to the MS data. Aporphine and Apomorphine (6a-beta-aporphine-10,11-diol) have also been excluded.
Essentially this means that at this time no one knows what is causing the Blue Sacred Lotus to be a potent narcotic and inebriant. All we know is that 2-4 flowers soaked in wine for 24 hours will give a noticable and very pleasant synergy with the wine. Seed extracts and flower extracts can be consumed orally with or without alcohol, while dried flowers are easily dosed by smoking. All product forms will produce noticable effects. These can range from mild sedation to a fairly strong narcotic state”.
So, what are the psychoactive constituents?
More research is needed, but according to Kandeler and Ullrich, “Nymphaeas have long had a particular significance as intoxicants for shamans because of their alkaloid and glycoside content. They contain compounds similar to atropin and papaverin (nupharin, nymphalin, ellagic acid)(Roth et al., 1994).”
Also, Nymphaea caerulea could still contain Apomorphine (6a-beta-aporphine-10,11-diol) and Nuciferine (1,2-dimethoxy-aporphine). The sample used in the Shaman Australis MS study could have been the wrong plant, harvested at a bad time, had less than optimal growing conditions, etc.
Recent studies have shown Nymphaea caerulea to have psychoactive properties, and may have been used as a sacrament in ancient Egypt and certain ancient South American cultures. Dosages of 5 to 10 grams of the flowers induces slight stimulation, a shift in thought processes, enhanced visual perception, and mild closed-eye visuals. Nymphaea caerulea is distantly related to, and possesses similar activity as Nelumbo nucifera, the Sacred Lotus.
These psychoactive effects make Nymphaea caerulea a likely candidate (among several) for the lotus plant eaten by the mythical Lotophagi in Homer’s Odyssey.
According to Shaman Australis, (2009), “Nymphaea nouchali has featured heavily in Egyptian history. The goddess Isis is said to have pointed out that the rhizomes were edible. Pharaohs wre buried with them and their pyramids adorned with images of them. There is also evidence, in the form of a painting in a tomb dating back to 3000-2500 BCE, that nymphaeas were deliberately cultivated in square, evenly spaced beds fed by canals. The blooms were in great demand for religious festivals, offerings of the flowers being made to the dead or to the gods, as well as for gifts to visiting noblemen as a gesture of friendship and goodwill. Both Amenhotep IV and Ramses III (1225 BCE) are known to have had them growing in their palace gardens. It is commonly assumed that this was purely for ornamental purposes, but given what we know now about their psychoactivity, there may have been more to this. Many ancient paintings depict the Sacred Blue Lotus in conjunction with wine symbols and among the consumed items rather than the decorative items. It has also long been cultivated by the Chinese and Japanese.
In modern times, the name lotus is used almost exclusively for Nelumbo nucifera. Nelumbo nucifera is not a native of Egypt. It actually comes from south-east Asia where it is often found near temples and is regarded as sacred in China and Japan. It was introduced to the Nile by the Romans, probably for food. The true Egyptian lotus is Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea (syn. N. caerulea) and Nymphaea lotus. In in South Africa (c 1800), the rootstock of the blue water lily was collected and eaten, either raw or in curries, in particular by the Cape Malays and farming communities in the Cape.”
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
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