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Orchids: Medicinal Marvels

by Simas

Thousands of orchids have been identified all over the world, and several new species are still being discovered every day. You may have spotted orchids being used to add some elegance to homes and workspaces.

Although many people value them for their aesthetic beauty, they have many practical uses as well. From ancient times, orchids have been grown for medicinal purposes.

Orchids in Chinese Medicine

The Chinese people were the pioneer in discovering the medicinal properties of orchids. Emperor Shen Nung, who has been dubbed the “Father of Chinese Medicine”, referred to a type of dendrobium and Bletilla striata in his medical writings as early as in the 28th century BC.  Chinese people continue to use orchids for medicinal purposes to this day, especially in the form of medicinal tea.

Dried dendrobium is believed to have healing properties that can help treat cancer, strengthen the immune system, and improve vision.

Orchids in Turkish Medicine

In Turkey, orchids are used to make a traditional beverage called Salep. It is a type of flour produced by grinding orchids of orchis militaris, orchis mascula, and other varieties of orchids with ovoid stems. The drink was also consumed in middle-eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran, and was popular during the Ottoman Empire.

It is said to be effective in treating sore throats, digestive problems, diarrhea, and gum disease. Other orchid species that may have medicinal properties include orchis latifolia, eulophia campestris, vanda tessellate, and vanda roxburghii. It is believed that these orchids have antimicrobial properties and phytochemicals that can help cure certain diseases.

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