Medicinal Orchid in Traditional Chinese Medicine

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Orchids have been widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. Many orchids have been proven for their medicinal properties. Medicinal Orchids mainly belong to genera: Calanthe, Coelogyne, Cymbidium, Cypipedium, Dendrobium, Epthemerantha, Eria, Galeola, Gastrodia, Gymnadenia, Habenaria, Ludisia, Luisia, Nevilia and Thunia (Szlachetko, 2001; Gutierrez, 2010). Orchids produce phytochemicals such as alkaloids, flavonoids, carotenoids, anthocyanins, sterols, bibenzyl derivatives and phenanthrenes. These phytochemicals provided antimicrobial, antitumor, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and other functions.

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Several species of orchids are used as potent inhibitor against gram positive and gram negative bacteria and are proved to be a potent antimicrobial agent. Gastrodianin, a protein isolated from orchid Gastrodia elata have shown invitro activity against plant pathogenic fungi (Gutierrez, 2010; Singh et al., 2012). Vanillin, the major flavoring component of vanilla is a membrane active compound which results in dissipation of ion gradients and the inhibition of respiration. Vanillin has shown antimicrobial activity against Escherichia coli, Lactobacillus plantarum and Listeria innocua (Fitzgerald et al., 2004; Singh et al., 2012). Heptacosane (C27H56) and octacosanol (C28H58O) showed marked anti-inflammatory activity in carrageenan induced oedema in rats and mice is reported from Vanda roxburghii. The anti-inflammatory activity is due to long chain alkanes and alkanols (ranging C-27 to C-32) which are ubiquitous in plants (Chawla et al., 1992; Singh et al., 2012). Dendrobium nobile is a good source of compounds with anti-tumor activity. Denbinobin and 4,7-Dihydroxy-2-methoxy9,10-dihydrophenanthrene from Dendrobium nobile showed cytotoxicity against human lung carcinoma, human ovary adenocarcinoma and humanpromyelocytic leukemia cell lines (You HL et al., 1995; Singh et al., 2012).

Dendroside A and dendronobiloside A obtained from the stem of Dendrobium nobile showed stimulatory effect on proliferation of murine T and B lymphocytes [40]. Cirrhopetalanthrin which has shown cytotoxicity against human colon cancer (HCT-8), human hepatoma (Bel7402), human stomach cancer (BGC-823) human lung adenocarcinoma (A549), human breast cancer (MCF-7) and human ovarian cancer (A2780) cell lines is isolated from Cremastraappendiculata (Xia WB et al., 2005; Singh et al., 2012).

Compounds with anti tumor activities have also been isolated from Bulbophyllum kwangtungense (Wu B et al., 2006; Singh et al., 2012). Alkyl ferulates with antioxidant properties has been isolated from methanolic extract of Dendrobium monoliforme (Lo SF et al., 2004; Singh et al., 2012). Other antioxidants such as cis & trans-Melilotoside, dihydromelilotoside has been isolated from Dendrobium sp. (Yang et al., 2007; Singh et al., 2012). Acanthephippium bicolor Lindley was reported to be one of the best herbal medicine for Urinary Tract Infection and leaves can be used as herbal and scientific medicine throughout the year as there is no seasonal impact (Kala & Senthilkumar, 2010; Singh et al., 2012).

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