Dendrobium (Shi Hu)
Botanical Name: Dendrobium nobile, D. officinale, D. candidum
This ancient Chinese Tonic herb was used by Chinese Taoist monks to promote longevity and improve health and stamina. Dendrobium (the genus of orchids) is used to increase the sexual fluids in both men and women and is excellent for relieving thirst and dry mouth. It is one of the 50 fundamental herbs of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Watch a short video, from Ann Christensen, Founder and Creator of White Rabbit Institute of Healing™ – Dendrobium, the First Taoist Celestial Herb.
Below is an overview of dendrobium, combining the best of Western Science, Oriental Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore, and a wide range of healing modalities. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of dendrobium.
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Western Name: Dendrobium
Also Known As: Dendrobium Nobile, Orchid
Organs/Systems: Stamina, Muscles, Digestive
Key Actions: Mild Analgesic, Antipyretic, Adaptogen, Tonic, Astringent, Anti-inflammatory, Stimulant
Medicinal Uses: Enhance physical athletic performance, coughs, fever, thirst, abdominal pain, heat stroke, vomiting, anorexia, dry mouth, boost immune system, impotence.
Pin Yin: Shi Hu
Also Known As: Shi Hu translates as “bushel of stone.”
Meridians: Kidney, Lung, Stomach
Key Actions: Nourishes Yin, Clears Heat, Generates Fluids, Nourishes Stomach Yin, Nourishes Lung Yin, Replenishes Kidney Jing, Brightens Vision, Strengthens the Lower Back
Medicinal Uses: Parched mouth, severe thirst, injury to fluids during warm febrile disease, stomach, dry heaves, wasting and thirsting disorders, diabetes, endurance, heat stroke, dryness caused by pollution, weather, or smoke, male and female impotence, anorexia, tuberculosis, cough, sore throat, boost immunity, low back pain, knee pain, dull vision, supports Kidney Yin function, Jing deficiency, longevity, night sweats, pain in the hands and feet, dry and cracked skin, cataracts.
Basic Habitat / Botany:
Dendrobium nobile is a genus of orchids that now contains some 1,200 species. Its blooms are variegated in color, shading from white to pink and purple. It has strap-shaped, persistent leaves and blooms every winter and spring.
Native to Southern China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, and other temperate and tropical Asian regions. It occurs in lowland and mountain forests, often on mossy limestone rocks. It often grows well near pear or peach trees.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Stem, Flower, Leaf
Flavors/Temps: Sweet, Slightly Salty, Bland, Cool
Caution: Considered safe. This herb can cause Dampness so it is not recommended for cases of abdominal distension due to Damp. Overdosing can cause convulsions.
Key Constituents: Alkaloids, Dendrobine, Dendramine, Dendroxine. Sesquiterpenes, Polysaccharides
History/Folklore: Good quality dendrobium is said to be shiny, golden in color, and pliable. It is the white pulpy insides that contain the tonic properties. Both the flowers and stems are edible. In Thailand, they are deep-fried and eaten as snacks. In Nepal, the flowers are pickled. It is well known as a Lung, Stomach, and Kidney Yin tonifying herb.
True Dendrobium (Shi Hu) is considered to be “true shi hu” and is the highest quality of dendrobium available. Often in the marketplace, it is substituted with You Hua Shi Hu (Ephemerantha fimbriata), another plant in the orchid genus that has similar properties as true shi hu, but is considered less potent and effective. It is also therefore more expensive than its substitute. Products marked “wild” are often actually cultivated as the plant is endangered and illegal to wild-craft, so buyer beware!
Dendrobium is especially noted for being a Kidney Yin tonic. The Chinese Taoists used it as a daily tea to promote longevity and help build Jing (Essence). Restoring Kidney Jing strengthens the whole body. It is said to increase the sexual fluids in men and women as well as increasing saliva. Peking Opera masters have used dendrobium tea to protect their throats and voice.
Dried dendrobium is commonly boiled with duck, chicken, and lamb soups and stews. The stems can be squeezed into a juice and the flowers can be used to make tea or liquor. The fresh stems can be chewed raw. The stems can also be braised with vegetables or lamb.
Dendrobium is considered a perfect herb for those entering the healing arts as it is said to provide “healing energy” itself, helping healers to replenish themselves after and during healing practices.
In Taoist literature, dendrobium is described as the first of nine “celestial herbs” with powerful healing benefits. Considered Yin in nature, it helps to moisten the stomach, and lungs, and replace Kidney Jing. It is a tonic herb used to treat Deficiency of Yin. As a Yin tonic, dendrobium can be heavy and moist and is not recommended for those already coping with signs of Dampness.
Dendrobium and Licorice Tea is a classic daily tea made up of four or five pieces of licorice to double the amount of dendrobium. Simmer for about twenty minutes and enjoy and live long!
Dendrobium helps moisten and nourish the skin preventing dryness. Natives of the Himalayas use dendrobium to treat hot, dry, and red eye disorders.
The compound dendrobin, found in dendrobium, has been shown in research to have anticancer properties.
Dendrobium (orchids) are long-lasting and elegant plants. In Ancient Greece they were a symbol of fertility and virility. Eating the flower’s large new orchid tubers was said to ensure the birth of a baby boy. Eating small orchid tubers would help you give birth to a baby girl.
In Victorian England orchids took on a mantle of luxury and delicacy. They are a symbol of perfection and beauty. In Ancient China the flowers were a symbol of many children, refinement, and innocence.
Growing dendrobium at home can eradicate pollutants and toxins from the air creating a clean environment.
When the life cycle of the mother plant ends, dendrobium produces offshoots that continue the life of the plant.
The Aborigines consider dendrobium to be emergency bush food.
In Europe, dendrobium flower blossoms are used as edible cake decorations.
Take FULL advantage of Dendrobium (Shi Hu)!
Connecting Eastern and Western perspectives on HOW and WHY this herb works. Find out how to safely and effectively use this healing herb for treating conditions and for your Body, Mind, and Spirit. Find True Health. Explore uses, safety information, benefits, history, recipes, gardening tips, essential oil information, if it applies, and much, much more in this online course.
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