Arundina graminifolia (Orchidaceae) has been widely used for heat clearance and detoxification, anti-inflammatory diuretic, and anti-microbes for two thousand years in national minorities, especially among the Dai people. It was known as “Zhuyelan” (Chinese: ), “Wenshanghai” (Chinese: ) and “Baiyangjie” (Chinese: ) in the Dai nationality, and mainly used as antidote, which is characterized by “relieving the poison before getting sick and treating illness”. Therefore, it has been typically applied in the treatment of food poisoning, snake bites, rheumatism, stomachache and traumatic injuries. It is also used to treat bronchitis, tuberculosis and pneumonia in the Bulang and the Wa ethnic people.
This review aims to provide up-to-date information about the botanical characterization, traditional uses, phytochemistry, and pharmacology of A. graminifolia, and the related importantly medicinal plants (e.g. Bletilla striata, Cremastra appendiculata, and Dendrobium officinale) of the same Orchidaceae family. Our work aims to further promote scientific cognition, basic research and in-depth discovery of potential drug candidates for Minority Medicine of our nation.
Relevant information was obtained via piles of resources including classic books about Chinese herbal medicine, and worldwide accepted scientific databases including Web of Science, Pubmed, Google Scholar, SciFinder, Elsevier, Springer, NCBI, ACS Publications, CNKI and Wanfang data.
Phytochemical investigations have been intensively performed for these two decades, over 134 compounds, mainly include stilbenoids, phenanthrenes, quinones, ketones, phenolic acids, and glycosides, have been isolated and identified from A. graminifolia. The literature surveys exhibited that the ethnomedicinal uses of A. graminifolia, such as detoxification, anti-inflammation and the ability to cure trauma and pain associated with infections, are correlated with its modern pharmacological activities, including antibacterial, anti-oxidation, anti-lipid peroxidation. Stilbenoids and phenanthrenes have been regarded as the main active substances, among which stilbenoids with open ring style have superior antitumor activity. Furthermore, phytochemical investigations, biological activities, as well as the main molecular mechanism involved the coexisted stilbenoids and phenanthrenes from other most common used medicinal plants of the same Orchidaceae family were presented, compared and discussed together.
This review presents the current research findings of A. graminifolia and three other related medicinal plants of the same family. Some of the traditional uses of A. graminifolia have been assessed by pharmacological studies. Despite A. graminifolia is used as an antidote and anti-aging dote, a few unsolved problems including the molecular mechanism underlying biological activities, pharmacokinetics, and in vivo detoxification tests still need to be settled extensively. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct a comprehensive survey and collect investigation information on A. graminifolia.

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