The Council of Agriculture (COA) on Wednesday unveiled a new orchid species for use in traditional Chinese medicine, saying it took eight years to breed and contains high levels of polysaccharides that are good for people undergoing chemotherapy.
The Golden Emperor No. 1, a crossbreed that contains more polysaccharides than the premium orchid species, Dendrobium huoshanense, that originated in China’s Anhui Province, the council said.
Polysaccharides play a role in stimulating the immune system and can aid the recovery of patients from chemotherapy, said Wen Chi-luan (文紀鑾), a research assistant at the council’s Taiwan Seed Improvement and Propagation Station.
Patients recovering from eye surgery can also benefit from polysaccharides, as they activate the retinal cell layers, Wen said.
The Golden Emperor No. 1, which will soon be mass produced, takes only two years to grow and can yield 8g to 12g of dried polysaccharides annually, he said.
That means the new species matures in half the time required by the Dendrobium houshanense, and its yield is five times higher, Wen said.
One of the most expensive orchid types in Chinese medicine, 600g of dried Dendrobium huoshanense herbal medicine can cost NT$8,900.
Dendrobium orchids are recorded as a high-class traditional medicine, similar to ginseng, in the traditional Chinese medical encyclopedia The Divine Farmer’s Herb-Root Classic (神農本草經), which was written by legendary ruler Shennong (神農) about 5,000 years ago, Wen said.
Some medical uses of dendrobium orchids recorded in the encyclopedia include a cure for dryness, thirst and inflammation; protection of the stomach; cleansing of the liver and improvement of eyesight, Wen said.