Orchids are known for their aesthetic qualities, and they are often used as decorative items in homes, offices, and public places. While most people admire them for their good looks, others have found practical uses for them. Since a long time ago, people from various parts of the world have used orchids for medicinal purposes. However, the use of orchids in medicine has declined over the years because not enough research has been done to determine their effectiveness and adverse effects.
Orchids in Chinese Medicine
The medicinal properties of orchids were first discovered by the Chinese. Emperor Shen Nung, the “Father of Chinese Medicine”, mentioned a dendrobium species and bletilla striata in his medical writings in the 28th century BC. The Chinese continues to use orchids for medicinal purposes until today, most commonly in the form of medicinal tea. Dried dendrobium is believed to possess medicinal properties that can help treat cancer, strengthen the immune system, and improve eyesight.
Orchid Beverage in Turkey
In Turkey, orchids are used for making a traditional beverage called Salep. Salep is a type of flour that is produced by grinding tubers of orchis militaris, orchis mascula, and other kinds of orchids with ovoid tubers. This beverage is also consumed in Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran, and it was popular during the time of the Ottoman Empire. It is said to be effective in curing sore throat, digestive problems, diarrhea, and gum disease.
Orchids with Medicinal Properties
Other types of orchids that may possess medicinal properties include orchis latifolia, eulophia campestris, vanda tessellate, and vanda roxburghii. It is believed that these orchids have certain antibacterial substances and phytochemicals that can help in the treatment of certain illnesses.