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Nepal: A Global Hotspot for Medicinal Orchids

  • Brajesh Nanda VaidyaEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Floristic diversity of family Orchidaceae in Nepal (area 147,181 sq. km) is impressive, as 517 species under 105 genera have been reported so far. Orchidaceae is one of the largest families in plant kingdom with abundant scientific studies carried out on their phytochemistry, and available bioactive compounds but with insufficient potential medicinal research and applications. Since the ancient Vedic period dating back to 2500 BCE, orchids have been mentioned widely for their medicinal use in traditional medical system of Ayurveda. Ancient scripts like Rig-Veda contain the preparation methods of formulations using orchids in combination with other herbs and their healing powers. Some of the compounds identified for their bioactivity are alkaloids, anthraquinones, cardiac glycosides, flavonoids, glycosides, phlobatanins, quercetin, reducing sugars, saponins, steroids, and terpenoids. There are numerous studies on ethnobotanical uses of orchids found in Nepal. In this chapter, medicinal properties of a total of 130 species are discussed; several of these species have been tested for their chemical constituents, in vitro properties and in vivo clinical efficacy. Unfortunately, orchids in their natural habitats are disappearing at an alarming rate. There is an immediate need to conserve orchids in their natural habitats at local, national, and international levels. This situation coupled with climate change poses grave challenges to the efforts to understand their medicinal properties.

Keywords

Medicinal orchids Nepal Himalayas Ayurveda Conservation 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Thank you to Dr. Nirmal Joshee, for providing constant support and mentorship, and helping me finish this chapter, the idea of which originated 20 years ago. Thanks to late Professor Michael Wirth, from my undergraduate years at New England College, Henniker, New Hampshire, who introduced me to the wonderful world of orchids.

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Agricultural Research Station, College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and TechnologyFort Valley State UniversityFort ValleyUSA

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