South Korean Scientists: Lotus Root Shows Promise for Treating Gum Disease

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A recent study by South Korean scientists suggests that lotus root, a common dish in many Asian countries, is effective in inhibiting the gum disease periodontitis.

Lotus root has high nutritional and medicinal value. Its medicinal values were first recorded more than 2,000 years ago in Shennong’s Classic of Materia Medica, which recommended lotus root as beneficial for the blood and spleen. The Ming Dynasty pharmacological work Herbal Foundation Compendium, written about five centuries ago, attributed cardiovascular benefits to lotus root.

All parts of the lotus—roots, leaves, flowers, and fruits—are used in traditional Chinese and Korean medicine. In China, lotus root is often ground into a powder and turned into a gelatinous, soup-like paste, to be consumed by adults and children, as well as the elderly and sick.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, raw lotus root is helpful in clearing heat and moisturizing the body. It is also said to cool the blood, improve circulation, and stop bleeding. Cooked lotus root is recommended for people with spleen or blood deficiency syndromes and is also said to soothe the stomach.

In modern times, lotus root has been found to be rich in dietary fiber, iron, and vitamins C, B6, and K. It can lower blood sugar, benefit the intestinal tract, have a calming effect, and relieve headaches. It is also used as a blood tonic, digestive aid, and cough suppressant, among other uses.

The most recent application of lotus root was discovered by researchers at South Korea’s Nakdonggang National Institute of Biological Resources. As reported by Seoul Economic Daily, the Institute announced on Oct. 14 that lotus root extract shows promise for treating periodontitis.

Researchers at the Institute cultured gingival fibroblasts (HGF-1), and then used lipopolysaccharide (LPS-PG) from the bacteria that induces periodontitis to trigger inflammation in the fibroblasts. They then treated with lotus root extract and analyzed the culture, comparing it to a control group that was not treated with lotus root extract.

The results showed that various inflammation-inducing substances were reduced in the subject group receiving treatment with the lotus root extract. In particular, the production of nitric oxide (NO), prostaglandins (PGE2), tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α), and interleukin-6 (IL-6) were reduced by up to 60 percent. In addition, it was found that lotus root extract inhibits the activity of transcription factors that induce intracellular inflammation, thus showing potential to relieve periodontitis symptoms.

A History of Medicinal Use

Kim Hwang-ho, the director of KD Korean Medicine Clinic in Seongnam, South Korea, told The Epoch Times that lotus root has been used since ancient times to stop bleeding and cool the blood, inhibit vomiting, stop nosebleeds, and clear heat from the stomach and esophagus. In modern medicinal terms that means it is effective in treating inflammatory diseases. The lotus root itself can be used topically on gums and teeth, thus helping to treat periodontitis, he said.

According to Kim, for bleeding gums, nosebleeds, or other symptoms related to heat in the upper part of the body, it’s best to consume raw, ground lotus root. The juice can also be applied externally to the diseased gum areas. In cases of stomach and intestinal discomfort, indigestion, and diarrhea, eating cooked lotus root is recommended.

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