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Image: Doug Waylett

Orthilia (Orthilia secunda) is an evergreen grassy plant from the Ericaceae family. Currently, it is the only representative of the Orthilia genus. It is also known as sidebells wintergreen, one-sided wintergreen and nodding wintergreen.

The plant can be found in humid forests, where mountain climate predominates. It is about 8″ (20 cm) tall. The stalks are bare, brown. The leaves are ellipsoid, light to dark green, smooth, lustrous, about 3/4″ (2 cm) wide, up to 2″ (5 cm) long. The flowers are small, colored white, attracting various insects.

History of Orthilia

This plant is widespread in different parts of the world. Many centuries ago it was found in Altai and has since then been widely used in the folk medicine of many peoples. It is particularly popular in Siberian folk medicine.

Locally it is known as "woman's grass" due to the beneficial effect it has for various women's health problems. Orthilia is also approved for official pharmacological use in Russia.

Composition of Orthilia

The healing effect of orthilia is owed chiefly to its composition. This medicinal plant contains phytohormones, saponins, coumarins, flavonoids, organic acids, resins, tannins, bitter substances, citric acid, tartaric acid and others. Orthilia is also a source of vitamin C, vitamin E, copper, zinc and manganese.

Benefits of Orthilia

Orthilia herb
Image: Doug Waylett

Orthilia is thought to be a real natural miracle for a number of reasons. Because of the phytohormones found therein it has a tremendous influence on the female body. The herb balances progesterone levels in the body and prevents symptoms such as painful periods, as well as PMS symptoms (nausea, nervousness, anxiety, depression).

At the same time, orthilia provides relief for women going into menopause, fighting the ailments that trouble women in that period. Thanks to it, the frequency of hot flashes is significantly reduced, depressive and neurotic states are abated and normal sleep is restored.

The herb is especially prized for its effectiveness against infertility due to endocrine issues. It helps restore menstrual cycle, makes conception and fetal development easier, reducing the risk of miscarriage. Because of this, it is put into herbal mixtures (or extracts) with other herbs, among which are chamomile, salvia and shepherd's purse, oregano, liquorice, nettle, burdock, Chinese angelica, filipendula.

Orthilia is also used for infertility caused by inflammatory processes, uterine bleeding, uterine fibroids, excessive menstrual bleeding, hypoplastic (undeveloped) uterus, polyps, leukorrhea, cervical erosion, nausea during pregnancy, fallopian tube obstruction, other diseases of the ovaries and others. One of the many positive sides to the herb is that, unlike the majority of drugs, it has no prominent side effects.

This healing drug also has favorable effects on the bodies of the stronger half of humanity. It aids in prostate adenoma and prostate gland inflammation. It's also effective for kidney, bladder and digestive tract problems. It has diuretic, antispasmodic and bactericidal actions.

It soothes, tones, functions as a laxative. Additionally, it regulates cholesterol and blood sugar levels. For this reason it's an excellent solution for people suffering from diabetes, as well as those suffering from high cholesterol. Due to the saponins in it, the plant boosts gland secretions and has a favorable effect on the bronchi. As a result of this, accumulated viscous mucus is more easily removed in respiratory illnesses.

Menstrual cramps

The beneficial substances found in Orthilia secunda reduce intestinal fermentation, improve metabolism and aid in getting rid of that heavy feeling in the stomach region. At the same time, the plant has a proven action against high blood pressure. It also helps the cardiovascular system and protects against coronary heart disease.

There is data that orthilia has general strengthening, rejuvenating effects and acts positively against cancer diseases. It is certainly known to bolster the body's ability to handle the severe conditions that sometimes surround it. Folk healers also recommend the plant for problems with the gallbladder, for gout, colitis, gastritis, sciatica, rheumatism, various types of inflammation.

Folk Medicine with Orthilia

As previously stated, Orthilia secunda is highly valued in folk medicine for treating and preventing diseases of the female reproductive organs.

For easier conception, folk medicine recommends taking the herb in the form of tea for a period of 3 months, while it's good to suspend use of it during menstruation and resume once again after the period ends.

To make a concoction of the herb, pour 4/5 cup (200 ml) boiling water over 2/5 tsp (2 g) of it. Let it steep for 15 min. Once the tea cools, you can consume. It's advised to divide it in 2 parts and drink them during meals.

Dangers of Orthilia

Even though orthilia has such a rich abundance of beneficial effects, it should not be taken before consulting with a doctor since allergies to it may occur. If taking it during pregnancy and breastfeeding, take greater care. Combining it with antibiotics is not particularly advised.


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