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The common name "lady's slipper" refers to the distinctive shape of these beautiful orchids, members of the genus Cypripediumthat are native to North America and Europe, as well as the Paphiopedilumspecies native to Southeast Asia. Other "slipper" orchid species are native to South America. Typically, the yellow lady's slipper Cypripedium calceolus var. pubescens(now called Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens) is used medicinally in Europe and North America. Cypripedium montanum, the rare mountain lady's slipper native to North America, is also wildcrafted (collected in the wild).
Many of the Cypripediumlady's slipper species are endangered and have proven very difficult to cultivate; even just collecting the flower alone may be enough to kill the plant, and...
Despite a complete absence of scientific evidence that it is effective, lady's slipper is sometimes used today either alone or as a component of formulas intended to produce treat anxiety or insomnia .
Lady's slipper is also sometimes used topically as a poultice or plaster for relief of muscular pain , 1 but again there is no evidence that it is effective.
The safety of any medicinal application of these orchid species has not been established. Contact with the small hairs on some species can cause skin irritation.