Orchids are not only ornamental they are also medicinal. Orchids, particularly Dendrobium orchids have been used as medicinal herb even in the ancient times. Modern research has found much new relevance of the orchid medicine and at present there are now 50 orchid species used in traditional Chinese medicine. Dendrobium, Gastrodia elataand Bletilla striata or Chinese ground orchids are grown commercially for the large Chinese herbal medicine industry. All dendrobium species are now being used in the production of Chinese herbal medicine.
Shi Hu or the authentic Shi Hu refers to dendrobium orchids and is considered an important and effective herb for diseases or conditions related to the absence or lack of yin in the lung, kidney and stomach such as atrophic gastritis, diabetes, fever, red inflamed tongue and sore throat or faucitis. Shi Hu is sold as a supplemental medicine in varying grades and quality and is a main substance for a preparation called Shi-Hu Ye Guang Wan for poor eye sight, cataracts and other eye problems. Alkaloids in dendrobium are known to be an analgesic and antipyretic and are believed to increase immunity, cut down the oxidant stress of aging and have anti-cancer properties. In China, Shi Hu is now being used in the treatment of lung and stomach cancer.
The parts of the orchids that are most commonly used as orchid medicine are the bulbs and the stems since these plant parts are designed to supply nutrients to the plants and keep them alive during dry season and are therefore rich in nutrition. These are dried and made into tea. Orchid tea is considered one of the finest and of very high quality and uniqueness. The use of dried orchids vary from the build-up of the immune system, improvement of eye sight, fast revitalization after sex, fast recovery of strength after healing and even for cancer treatment. Photo by markb120