What is Shi Hu?
(scientific name: Dendrobium nobile Lindl
.), which is also known as dendrobium
, is a plant in the orchid family and Dendrobium genus. It has an upright stem with fleshy and slightly flattened cylindrical shape that can grow up to 60 centimeters in length and 1.3 centimeters in width, and is segmented with some nodes slightly enlarged. Its leather-like leaves are oval-shaped and can grow up to 11 centimeters in length and 3 centimeters in width. Its inflorescence is terminal, with 1 to 4 flowers that are large, white with a light purple tip, and sometimes with a reddish-purple spot on the lip. The flowering period is between May and June, with fruiting occurring in July and August.
Dendrobium is a widely used Chinese traditional medicine that is derived from the fresh or dried stem of Dendrobium plants, including several species within the same genus. It has a nourishing effect on the Stomach and body fluids, and can cool down the body heat and tonify Yin. It is commonly used to treat conditions like thirst caused by a deficiency of body fluids, dry mouth, deficient stomach Yin, lack of appetite, and weak limbs, Yin deficiency with excessive inner-heat, blurred vision, etc.
Types of Shi Hu
There are several types of Shi Hu based on their variety and processing methods, including Jin Chai Shi Hu, Huang Cao Shi Hu, Xiao Huang Cao Shi Hu, Er Huan Shi Hu, and Fresh Shi Hu.
(1)Jin Chai Shi Hu
It is processed from the dried stem of the plant, Jin Chai Shi Hu, and is typically 20-45 centimeters in length and 1-1.5 centimeters in diameter, with a golden yellow color and a glossy surface with longitudinal grooves and obvious nodes, which are brown and sometimes slightly swollen. The internodes are about 2.5-3 cm long and gradually shorten upwards. It is light and dense, easy to break, and the cross-section is white with dark spots. It has no odor, a bitter taste, and is slightly sticky when chewed. The best ones are long in shape, golden in color, dense in quality, and glossy.
(2)Huang Cao Shi Hu
It is processed from several Dendrobium species, including Tiepi Shi Hu, Luohe Shi Hu, Guangdong Shi Hu, and Xijing Shi Hu. It has a diameter of 3-5 millimeters and a golden yellow color with deep longitudinal grooves and obvious nodes, with internodes about 2-3.5 cm long. The thick slice section is circular with numerous edges, forming a gear-like shape, and has white spots scattered in the middle. It has no odor, a slightly bitter taste, and is slightly sticky when chewed. The best ones are even in shape, golden in color, and dense in quality.
(3)Xiao Huang Cao Shi Hu
It is processed from the stems of Dendrobium species like Mei Hua Shi Hu, Luohe Shi Hu, and Xi Ye Shi Hu, and has a diameter of 2-2.5 millimeters with a coiling and twisting structure. It has fine and dense longitudinal patterns on the surface which looks golden and slightly greenish, with a glossy appearance. The internodes are about 1-1.5 cm long with a circular break section that is slightly powdery. The best ones are those looking coiled with dense nodes, in the color of golden yellow, and rich in powdery substance, as well as having a sweet and cool taste and are sufficiently sticky when chewed.
(4)Er Huan Shi Hu
Also known as Feng Dou, it is processed from the stems of several Dendrobium species and can be further classified into different types.
1.Xi Feng Dou
The dried stem is twisted into a spiral or spring shape, generally with 1-4 spirals, about 1-1.5 meters long and 3 mm in diameter. One end can be seen as the stem base and the remaining short pseudobulb roots, called "dragon head," and the other end is the tip of the stem, called "phoenix tail," with a yellowish-green surface, fine longitudinal patterns, and obvious or sometimes indistinct nodes. It has no odor and a light taste. The best ones are thick, with fewer spirals, and rich in powdery substance. They can also be further divided into Tiepi Feng Dou (made from Tiepi Shi Hu), Tongpi Feng Dou (made from Xi Jing Shi Hu), Yunnan Feng Dou (made from xiaomei Shi Hu), etc.
2.Yuan Feng Dou
The stems of Tiepi, Xi Jing, and Xiao Mei Shi Hu which are longer than 8 cm but not suitable for processing into Xi Feng Shi Hu are cut into lengths of about 5 cm, and dried over low heat while twisted into a round shape resembling the winding of a clock.
3.Jie Zi Dou
The nodes of Tiepi Shi Hu are cut, and when dried, are bent to form knotted ropes.
(5)Fresh Shi Hu
It can be further classified into Jin Chai Shi Hu and Huang Cao Shi Hu based on their stem size and appearance.
1.Fresh Jin Chai Shi Hu
Its stems are slightly flattened cylinders with a thinner base, about 1-1.5 cm in diameter with a yellowish-green smooth surface and longitudinal ridges. The nodes are obvious, with brownish-yellow rings and gray membranous leaf sheaths at the base, which are about half the length of the nodes.
2.Fresh Huang Cao Shi Hu
Its stems are cylindrical and fleshy. Among them are Tiepi Shi Hu, Xi Jing Shi Hu, Zhao Lan Shi Hu.
(1)Tiepi Shi Hu
The outer skin is blackish-green, the stem is short and strong, uniform in thickness, and the nodes are slightly curved, the leaves are melon-shaped, thick, and the leaf sheaths are tightly wrapped between the nodes. It has a thick stickiness and a light taste when chewed. This group is of good quality.
(2)Xi Jing Shi Hu
It has yellowish-green outer skin, thinner stems, longer leaves, thin quality, easy-to-peel-off leaf sheaths and straight nodes. The stickiness while chewing is relatively thin and the taste is light, with a poor quality.
(3)Zhao Lan Shi Hu
It has green outer skin, uneven stem thickness which is usually thin at both ends, thick in the middle, and long leaves. It tastes bitter when chewed. Its quality is slightly inferior.
These different types of Shi Hu are produced in regions like Sichuan, Guizhou, Guangxi, Guangdong, Yunnan, and Hubei, as well as in Anhui, Hunan, Jiangxi, Fujian, Zhejiang, Shaanxi, and Henan, China.
Growth environment of Shi Hu
Shi Hu grows in warm, humid, partially shaded environments, often on the trunks of trees in mountain forests at elevations of 480-1700 meters or on rocks in valleys.
Harvest and processing of Shi Hu
Shi Hu can be harvested throughout the year, but the quality is better when harvested in autumn.
(1)Fresh Shi Hu
After harvesting, fresh Shi Hu should be planted in fine sand in spring and autumn, placed in a shady and humid place, and watered regularly to keep the roots moist. In winter, it should be laid flat in a bamboo basket, covered with a reed bag, but attention should be paid to air circulation. When using, remove the roots and mud, rub off the membranous leaf sheath, wash, and cut into segments.
(2)Dry the fresh Shi Hu
Cut off the fibrous roots of the fresh Shi Hu, get washed, and dry in the sun or in a dryer. In Guangxi region, it is often blanched in boiling water first, rubbed and sun-dried (or baked) while still hot until fully dry.
(3)Processed Shi Hu
Take the dried Shi Hu, put it in water until about 80% soaked through, simmer it, remove the residual roots and black branches, cut it into segments, knock off the film, and sun-dry.
Dry Shi Hu is stored in a ventilated and dry place to prevent moisture.
Fresh Shi Hu is stored in a cool and humid place to prevent freezing.
Shi Hu TCM
The stem of the orchid family plant, Dendrobium nobile, or other related species.
Sweet in taste and slightly cold in nature.
Enter the stomach, lungs, and kidney meridians.
Shi Hu has the effects of helping the stomach produce fluid, nourishing yin, and clearing heat.
Shi Hu is usually used for treating hear-related diseases that damage body fluids, dry mouth and thirst, deficiency of stomach yin, poor appetite, dry retching, post-illness lingering fever, yin deficiency with excessive inner-heat, blurred vision and weak limbs.
6-12g, fresh Shi Hu 15-30g.
(1)Shi Hu has the effect of nourishing yin, so it should be used with caution in people with spleen and stomach deficiency and coldness in the body, such as when having a cold, it is not recommended to take Shi Hu.
(2)Shi Hu is incompatible with sternutatory drugs like Ningshen (Borneol) and Badou (Croton tiglium), and should not be used together with Jiangchan (Bombyx batryticatus) and Leiwan.
Bencao Tongxuan, Shihu can nourish the spleen, and also tonify the kidney with its salty properties. Therefore, it is deemed to work for the organs like stomach, spleen and kidney. However, due to its gentle nature, it does not have the immediate effects of other medicines. In ancient times, it was used in place of tea and was very refreshing.
Shihu mainly contains alkaloids, polysaccharides, flavonoids, phenols, and other chemical components. Among them, alkaloids are its main pharmacological active component, which has pharmacological effects such as lowering blood sugar, improving memory, protecting nerves, anti-cataract, and anti-tumor.
Shi Hu benefits
Shi Hu has a sweet taste and a slightly cold nature. It enters the stomach and kidney meridians and has the effects of tonifying the stomach and generating fluids, nourishing yin, and clearing inner-heat. It is mainly used to treat heat-related syndromes with fluid deficiency, dry mouth and thirst, insufficient stomach yin, poor appetite and dry retching, post-illness lingering fever, yin deficiency and excess inner-heat, osteoarthritis and hot flashes, blurred vision, and weak muscles and bones.
Shi Hu can improve immunity and resistance in the human body and has a nourishing and balancing effect on individuals with poor constitution. Fresh Shi Hu has a strong ability to clear inner-heat and generate body fluids and is commonly used for heat-related syndrome with fluid deficiency, while dry Shi Hu is commonly used for those with stomach deficiency and heat-induced yin injury.
Shi Hu side effects
(1)Shi Hu is slightly cold in nature and has a nourishing effect on yin. If it is eaten by people with heavy dampness or coldness, it may worsen the symptoms and cause abdominal distension, loss of appetite, and diarrhea.
(2)Individuals with allergies may experience allergic reactions after taking Shi Hu.
Shihu has many medicinal uses and values, but it also needs to be used under the doctor's advice so as to avoid the side effects.
How to take Shi Hu?
Shi Hu, also known as Dendrobium, is a highly nutritious Chinese herb that not only has many benefits for our body but can also improve our health. Take Tiepi Shi Hu for example, there are some recommended ways to consume it.
(1) Eating it raw
You can pick it fresh and wash it to eat. Fresh Shi Hu helps clear inner-heat and detoxify the body, promoting metabolism and wound recovery. It can also help reduce fever when consumed during a fever.
(2) Brewing tea
Shi Hu tea is refreshing and can alleviate symptoms of sore throat. However, the effective ingredients of Shi Hu are difficult to extract in hot water. To make Shi Hu tea, it is best to wash it, remove the old roots, mash it, add water and boil for about 30 minutes to clear the intestines and boost the spirit without caffeine contained.
Fresh Shi Hu can be juiced and easily absorbed by the body, providing relief during hot summer months.
(4) Grinding powder
Mashing Shi Hu into powder and consuming it directly or mixed with warm water, milk, or soybean milk.Take about 1g per day. Since Shihu is cold in nature, it is recommended to consume together with some warm food like red dates and wolfberries for better.
After washing and removing impurities, slice or mash Shi Hu, and stew it with a whole chicken or duck and half a piece of ginger over low heat for 2-3 hours. Add salt to taste, and consume the soup also with the dregs.
How to choose Shi Hu?
(1)Dry Shi Hu
Looking like flattened cylindrical or cylindrical sections, with a shiny surface and vertical grooves or ridges. The color may vary from yellow to brown, and the taste is slightly bitter or bland with a sticky texture when chewed.
(2)Fresh Shi Hu
Looking like flattened cylindrical or cylindrical sections, with a diameter of 0.4-1.2cm, a yellowish-green color, and juicy flesh. It has a slightly bitter and sweet taste and a sticky texture when chewed.
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