Orchids have been here for a very long time. In ancient texts, they are mostly mentioned of their medicinal properties. In present day, orchids are known mostly for their beautifully formed flowers, fragrance or in some cases foliage. Most of us are not even faintly aware of their medicinal qualities.
The people living in orchid rich zones, however, use these plants in multiple ways. These include as ornamental, medicinal, food as well as religious and cultural tools. Many of these uses have been documented in various research journals.
I have put together a list of some of these orchids, whose medicinal properties have been recorded. Here it is:
• Aerides crispum is used as herbal medicinal cure for earache. The whole plant is dried, powdered, and then this powdered stuff is boiled in neem oil. After cooling down it is filtered. Two to three drops of this oil is put into the ear once at night for relief.
• In case of cuts and wounds, a paste of Aerides multiflora leaves is applied.
• Mashed fruit of Aerides odorata is used in healing wounds. The juice extracted from the leaves is used in curing boils in ear and nose.
• Root decoction of Arundina graminifolia is used in body ache and as antibacterial.
• For relief from discomfort and pain of sore of gums and inside of the mouth, the basal stems of Eriopsis sceptrum are boiled in water and the resultant mucilage obtained is applied on the sores.
• Tubers of Gastrodia elate are eaten either raw or steamed (sometimes roasted), to control the movement of gas in the stomach.
• Another orchid which is used to treat stomach problems is Phragmipedium ecuadorense. Tea prepared by boiling the orchid does the trick.
This list is not exhaustive. There are many other orchids which are being used as herbal medicine. I have written about those orchids, which have been documented with their method of use.
Few words of caution
Please do not take the above mentioned information as qualified medical advice. You are advised to first consult a qualified doctor in case of any ailment. The list provided here has orchids which have been used a medicine by local people and researchers have published papers on these. However, the effectiveness of these medicinal orchids may vary in each individual. If you plan to use these as medicine, please exercise full caution.
• Kaushik, P. 2013. Therapeutic value of orchids. The Journal of the Orchid Society of India. Vol. 27 (1&2): 37 – 45.
• Kong JM, Goh NK, Chia LS, Chia TF. 2003. Recent advances in traditional plant drugs and orchids. Acta Pharmacol Sin Jan; 24 (1): 7-21