Dwelling on Rocks (Shihu)

  • Eng Soon Teoh


Shihu is an ancient Chinese ‘health supplement’, one of three orchid species with thousands of years of usage. It is employed to promote immunity, relieve fatigue, increase salivary secretion, promote digestion, improve eyesight, clear the brain, strengthen tendons and bones and promote longevity. Li Shizhen stated that it enhances spleen and kidney meridians, facilitates passage of urine and improves sperm production, hence the high market value. Conservationists are concerned that wild populations of medicinal Dendrobium species might be annihilated in southern China and neighbouring countries to supply raw material for herb traders. To eliminate such activity, the Chinese are cultivating top quality shihu (Dendrobium officinale and a few select species) in 10,000 hectares of farmland and transferring a portion of the stock to rocky outcrops. Import of wild orchids from foreign sources should be strictly controlled.

Investigations are ongoing on compounds of Dendrobium. Some compounds are able to destroy cancer cells in vitro.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eng Soon Teoh
    • 1
  1. 1.SingaporeSingapore

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