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Learn about Red Lily

Botanical name: Nymphaea rubra
Other names:

This aquatic perennial is closely related to both Blue and White Lily species, which have been revered in Egypt as well as Central America for millennia.  Although there is much less information regarding this particular species, anecdotal reports describe the relaxing, mood enhancing and dreamy effects as very similar. Lilies are used to reduce anxiety, improve mood and assist sleep.


Research has found some Nymphaea species to contain both aporphine and nuciferine. Aporphine has been described as a psychoactive alkaloid and is a dopamine agonist used to treat Parkinson’s disease, erectile dysfunction, Alzheimer’s, opiate and alcohol addiction as it stimulates dopamine receptors and improves motor function. This is the compound that stimulates a happy, uplifted, and euphoric feeling. Nuciferine is an alkaloid associated with dopamine receptor blockade, and is also found in Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera). 


Lilies enjoyed special significance to the people of ancient Egypt, where it symbolises the continual renewal of life. The flowers have been found in ancient tombs and depicted in ancient wall paintings and art. In Central America, the White Lily (Nymphaea ampla) is depicted in Mesoamerican art, usually portraying visionary scenes of the underworld or other worlds. 


Research into the medicinal effects of Red Lily has found immunomodulatory (regulates immune response), anti-diabetic, anthelmintic (antiparasitic) and antioxidant activity.


Preparation: Soak 10g in enough wine or vodka to easily cover the herb (as it will expand). Leave this to soak for up to 2 weeks ideally, however good effects can be achieved in less time (even 1 day). A tea can also be made by steeping 1-2 tsp per cup of boiled water, which has a pleasant relaxing effect. Red lily can also be smoked. 


References: Deni Brown (2002), New Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses, p.289-90;


Christian Råtsch (1998), The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants, pp.396-99;

Diaz  JL.  Ethnopharmacology of  sacred psychoactive plants used by the indians of Mexico. Ann. Rev. Pharm. Toxicol. (1977) 17: 647-75; Ott J. Ethneogenic drugs, their plant sources and history.  Pharmacotheon  (1993)  7:  424-5.


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