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Vietnamese mint, Vietnamese coriander, laksa (Persicaria odorata)

Vietnamese Mint - Herb

Vietnamese coriander/mint is not actually related to the mints, nor is it in the mint family Lamiaceae, but its general appearance and fragrance are reminiscent of them. Persicaria is in the family Polygonaceae, collectively known as “smartweeds” or “pink weeds”. A perennial plant that grows best in tropical and subtropical zones in warm and damp conditions. In advantageous conditions, it can grow up to 15–30 cm. Known as Vietnamese coriander, Vietnamese mint, Vietnamese cilantro, Cambodian mint, its leaves are used in Southeast Asian cooking.

An evergreen perennial that grows well in all climates, it does prefer a moist soil and likes full sun to part shade. Famously used in Singaporean laksa – and infamously used in Vietnamese herbal remedies to repress sexual urges – Vietnamese mint is also added to raw salads or Vietnamese spring rolls. The older the leaves the hotter the flavour, so try the younger leaves first before moving on to more mature ones. Vietnamese mint grows best in moist soil, pinch it back regularly to encourage fresh bushy growth. If left to its own devices, Vietnamese mint can before tall and leggy. Apply a liquid fertiliser once a month during spring and summer.

Feeding: apply a seaweed solution at planting. In frost-prone areas, also apply a seaweed solution periodically from late autumn through winter to improve frost tolerance.

Watering: regular watering is required, especially during hot or dry weather.

Appearance and characteristics of Vietnamese mint

Vietnamese mint is a spreading herb with striking green foliage featuring distinct blackish v-shaped blotches, held along purple stems. It is fragrant, edible, and prolific when grown in tropical and sub-tropical conditions. If you are worried about this mint spreading, plant in a pot in a premium potting mix.

Uses for Vietnamese mint

An edible herb commonly used fresh in rice paper rolls and salads, or served alongside spring rolls together with lettuce and dipping sauce, Vietnamese mint has an unusual flavour that adds pizzazz to any meal. It is an acquired taste for some, bringing depth and flavour to Asian-inspired cuisine. 

How to plant and grow Vietnamese mint

Vietnamese mint is usually available in a small herb pot, ready for planting directly into the garden or into a larger pot or container on your balcony.

How and when to prune Vietnamese mint

Harvest for the kitchen regularly, and prune the plant back by at least half in late winter or early spring, after all likelihood of frost has past.

Diseases and pests

Vietnamese mint is relatively pest and disease free. If aphids or mites are found, treat with an organic oil, making sure you follow the directions on the label.

How to propagate Vietnamese mint

Vietnamese mint can be easily propagated by layering (burying part of the stem under soil), or by striking cuttings in a glass of water.

Nutritional and medical benefits

Treat Flatulence and Abdominal Distension

The heat of Vietnamese coriander intensely encourages the digestive process. If you encounter digestive problems like flatulence or abdominal swelling, try solving them with this superb herb. Take a handful of washed Vietnamese coriander. Crush it into a liquid for drinking. For the remaining residue, rub it around your navel. You’ll see the positive changes after some time.

Treat Flu

Vietnamese coriander is considered an ideal solution for those having a cold. If you catch severe flu in the middle of the night when no pharmacy is open, search for Vietnamese coriander in your house. Wash a handful of this herb, grind it with fresh ginger, add in some water, and then filter the mixture for drinking medicine. Finally, your flu will be cured!

Treat Snake’s Bite

If someone is accidentally bitten by a snake, don’t panic! Go to your herb garden and grab some Vietnamese coriander. As usual, crush them then drink the extracted liquid and apply the remaining on the bite.

Treat Diarrhea due to Cold Infection

Boil 16 g of dried Vietnamese coriander, 16 g of marjoram, 12 g of Aractylodes macrocephala, 12 g of galangal, 10 g of cinnamon and 4 g of grilled ginger with 2 bowls of water until there is about 1 bowl left. Split the mixture into 2 parts for a daily dose.

Treat Fungus between Toes (Athlete’s Foot)

Vietnamese coriander also works for fungus between your toes. This fungus is a result of having your feet exposed to dirty water for a long time. Also, it can happen to people who have to wear shoes all day, particularly office workers. Wash the leaves; crush it into a liquid to apply on the wounded area. Or you can use the residue to cover upon it. And remember never to let your wound touch water.

Treat Ringworm and Scabies

Same as the athlete’s foot, Vietnamese coriander is also a fantastic treatment for ringworm and scabies. Both of these cause itching on your skin. Those with scabies may experience small red spots raised. To remove these itchy spots, soak the whole plant into white wine. Either apply the wine on the spots or crush the plant to put on the wound and then use a clean cloth as a bandage.

Treat Bruising and Swollen Wound

When you injure, it always takes time to fully heal. During that time, there are lots of sufferings. And if your injury becomes bruising and swollen painfully, this outstanding plant can help relieve your pain. Wash a handful of Vietnamese coriander. Grind it along with camphor, and then rub the mixture over your wound. After that, fix the wound with a clean bandage.

Treat Skin Issues

Vietnamese coriander is also a favourite herb of girls as it’s great for skincare. Due to its anti-inflammatory and antidotal effects, this plant is an excellent natural method to remove pimples as well as tighten the pores. Crush a handful of washed Vietnamese coriander then mix it with some salt. For the pimples, cover them with the residue and fix with a bandage. You should replace the residue once a day.And for tightening the pores, after rinsing your face with warm water, apply the extract on it and rewash with cold water after 2 hours.

Helps in Controlling Sexual Desires

One of the reasons why this herb is used very much in Vietnam is because it is known to suppress the need for sex. Many Buddhist monks have this hot mint in their garden as it helps them in having a celibate life.

Anti-bacterial qualities

Oils derived from the leaves of this hot mint are used because of their powerful anti-oxidant effects, so can be used against bacteria such as E.coli.

It is an excellent source of vitamin A or beta carotene. It is also a source of vitamin’s B and C. This herb has a high mineral content which includes, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. Both Culantro and cilantro contain vitamin A, although cilantro is a better source of the vitamin, with 10,460 IU per 100 grams. The same amount of cilantro contains about 7,000 IU.

Cilantro and Vietnamese mint are both sources of the antioxidant rich phytochemicals, also found in spinach, known as lutein and zeaxathin. Studies have demonstrated that a diet rich in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin can help protect the skin against UVB photo-aging and also skin cancer. Both phytochemicals have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which are primarily important for eye health, and may help protect against cataracts. Both Vietnamese mint and cilantro are considered medicinal for diabetics and are used for detoxification.

If you are going to use Vietnamese Mint to treat an existing health condition please consult with your healthcare provider first. 

Vietnamese mint, Vietnamese coriander, laksa (Persicaria odorata)