Nymphaea stellata: A Water Lily With Anxiolytic Properties

Nymphaea stellata (Dwarf Red Water Lily) is an aquatic plant, found throughout India and used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. In this role the plant are used for a number of purposes including as an effective treatment for diabetes. However, evidence suggests that Nymphaea stellata may be useful as a mood enhancer. Other Nymphaea species of water lily including Nymphaeae alba and Nymphaea lotus also share these mood elevating properties. Evidence from studies indicates that Nymphaea stellata may act as a mild sedative, possibly by affecting the cholinergic neurotransmitter system in the brain. However, the plant is rich in flavonoids, and flavonoids have been shown to affect the GABAergic system in animals and humans. Therefore phytochemicals in the plant may be acting on multiple neurotransmitter pathways. An anti-inflammatory effect has also been observed for extracts of Nymphaea stellata, which may also contribute to the mood elevating effects.

water lily

Nymphaea stellata is used as both a medicine and a food in India. For example, the rhizomes are used as a medicine, the flower and flower stalks are used as vegetables, as well as for green manure and as an animal fodder. This plant is therefore regarded as very important in Indian life. The plant’s medicinal use stems from the presence of phytochemicals such as sterols, alkaloids, saponins, tannins, and flavonoids. The flavonoids present in the flowers include astragalin, corilagin, gallic acid, gallic acid methyl ester, isokaempferide, kaempferol, quercetin-3-methyl ether, quercetin, 2,3,4,6-tetra-O-galloyl dextroglucose and 3-O-methylquercetin-3′-O-beta dextroxylopyranoside. These flavonoids may explain some of the medicinal properties of Nymphaea stellata as flavonoids are neuroprotective (image from Raja, 2010).

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Raja, M. M. M. 2010. A comprehensive review on Nymphaea stellata: A traditionally used bitter. Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology and Research. Jul-Sep: 1(3)

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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