Rau Răm or Vietnamese Coriander, sciencly known as Persicaria odorata is an herbaceous, fragrant plant whose leaves are used in Southeast Asian cooking. It is an integral part of the Vietnamese, Singaporean, and Malay cuisines, and has been appearing wild since ancient times. Vietnamese Coriander is a crop that is used in many countries in Southeast Asia such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore. In good condition, a full-light environment, and well-drained soil, the laksa plant can reach 5 to 11 inches in height. The stems are divided into very small segments. And when it’s mature enough, it starts to bloom and fruit. The lovely flowers grow in bunches on the top of the stem. They are commonly white, but some varieties have pink or purple flowers. Vietnamese Coriander is not 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”. The plant is native to Indo-China. Since the 1960s its cultivation has spread with Vietnamese migrants, mainly to Europe, Australia, the Philippines and the United States. Genus name comes from the Latin "Persica" meaning "peach-like" and "sagittata" meaning "barbed" or "arrow-shaped" in reference to the shape of the leaves. The fragrant and savory leaves, the specific epithet derives from Latin.
About the leaves, you can recognize them with a dark green color with a few light brown spots. The first feeling when you eat Vietnamese Coriander is a gentle spicy taste, next will be a slight sweetness. This is an amazing mixture, for this reason, the leaves are widely used for increasing the flavor. Young leaves are used raw or cooked as a flavoring. Leaves have a Coriander-like smell and a spicy, pungent, hot peppery flavor. Vietnamese Coriander is best when consumed young and fresh as older leaves can develop a tough texture and bitter flavor. In Southeast Asian cooking, This herb can be added to various stews, soups, salad, and meat dishes to make several traditional dishes to the next level. It is part of a famous Laksa Soup, a Malay soup dish and hence commonly called laksa leaves. The plant is native to Southeast Asia and slowly becoming popular as researchers all over the world are exploring its possible health benefits and medicinal uses. Vietnamese coriander is traditionally used in Asian medicine to treat bacterial and fungal infections. Though not yet proven, the leaves are also believed to decrease libido so Buddhist monks include it in their diet to maintain celibacy. It is being naturalized in China and becoming popular due to its essential oil content of Kesom oil. The aromatic phytochemicals in Vietnamese coriander or Rau Ram like aldehydes have potential uses in the food flavoring and fragrance industry. Some researchers are also evaluating its uses in the poultry industry as a bird feed for chickens. Strong antioxidants like flavonoids are believed to improve the general health and digestion of poultry birds and reduce heavy metal poisoning. I hope by now you are feeling interested in including this plant in your home garden, so let’s find out more about this plant and its growing requirements. It appears in many dishes and widely exists in numerous other countries especially in the New World.
The fascinating thing about this herb is that it’s also a popular oriental medicine. The Asians have been using Vietnamese Coriander to treat various diseases for hundreds of years. Vietnamese Coriander has an exceptionally pungent spicy taste. When eating this herb, you will feel a slight warmth from your throat down to your belly. However, overeating Rau Răm may produce too much heat in your body. The leaves have a spicy, pungent, hot peppery taste and a Coriander-like aroma. Because older leaves have a rough texture and harsh taste, Vietnamese coriander is best served young and fresh. Vietnamese Coriander is often a substitute for mint and Cilantro in Southeast Asian cookery. Diuretic, antipyretic, digestive tonic, and anti-aphrodisiac are among the less common uses for leaves. The juice made from the crushed leaves was formerly used to treat venomous snake bites as an antidote.
The whole plant contains a pale yellow oil giving off a fresh and pleasant aroma. The main components of the oil include alkane aldehydes. In total, about 50 different substances are available inside the plant.
The hot properties of Vietnamese Coriander help enhance the digestive process much stronger as well as support to treat and reduce the issues about digest such as flatulence or bloating. You can take a bunch of Vietnamese Coriander leaves and smash them, apply the smashed on the navel area. After 10 minutes, the issues could be improved.
Flatulence and Abdominal Distension:
The spicy flavor of Vietnamese Coriander stimulates the digestive system. If you encounter digestive problems like flatulence, abdominal swelling or gas, 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 and notice favorable improvements.
Oils which are derived from the leaves of this hot mint are used because of their powerful anti-oxidant behavior. This is one of the powerful herbs that can be used against bacteria such as E .coli.
A 2018 study "Antifungal and cytotoxic activities of selected medicinal plants from Malaysia" published in Pak J Pharm Sci by Yik Sin Chan, Yit Hong Cheah, Poh Zen Chong, Hui Lai Khor, Wen Siang Teh, Kong Soo Khoo, Hean Chooi Ong, Nam Weng Sit, investigate the antifungal potential and cytotoxicity of selected medicinal plants from Malaysia. The extracts from the stem of Cissus quadrangularis and the leaves of Asplenium nidus, Pereskia bleo, Persicaria odorata and Sauropus androgynus were assayed against six fungi using p-iodonitrotetrazolium-based on colorimetric broth microdilution method. All the plant extracts were found to be fungicidal against at least one type of fungus. The strongest fungicidal activity (minimum fungicidal concentration=0.16 mg/mL) were exhibited by the hexane extract of C. quadrangularis, the hexane, chloroform, ethanol and methanol extracts of P. bleo, the hexane and ethyl acetate extracts of P. odorata, and the water extract of A. nidus. In terms of cytotoxicity on the African monkey kidney epithelial (Vero) cells, the chloroform extract of P. odorata produced the lowest 50% cytotoxic concentration (100.3 ± 4.2 μ g/mL). In contrast, none of the water extracts from the studied plants caused significant toxicity on the cells. The water extract of A. nidus warrants further investigation since it showed the strongest fungicidal activity and the highest total activity (179.22 L/g) against Issatchenkia orientalis, and did not cause any toxicity to the Vero cells.
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. Also, never allow your wound to come into contact with water.
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.
For people suffering from cold, through some studies, Vietnamese Coriander recommend. If you have a bad case of the flu in the middle of the night and there’s no pharmacy open, look around your home for Vietnamese coriander. Wash a handful of this plant, blend it with fresh ginger, add some water, and strain the concoction for use as a drinking medication. Finally, you’ll be free of the flu.
However, this statement is just a traditional experience, so it needs more studies to make it clear. Through this treatment, people smashed Vietnamese coriander with ginger, extract the water, and drink. As mentioned before, you should ask the doctor before making this.
Diarrhea due to Cold Infection:
Have you ever felt severe abdominal pain and then diarrhea right after you wake up and your belly exposes to the cold of the early morning? Well, lots of people have. Unfortunately, sometimes it happen because of having wrong diet and body posture. Luckily, the hot Vietnamese Coriander can handle it. 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.
Pimples and Pores:
Vietnamese Coriander is also a favorite herb of girls as it’s great for skincare. It is also good for skin in some aspects. 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. Now you can walk on the streets confidently.
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. But it can be applied to the small injured area. If you get the bigger, you should follow the doctor’s pieces of advice.
This is the best thing about the healing actions of Vietnamese Coriander. If someone accidentally get bitten by a snake. Don’t panic. Go to your herb garden and grab some Vietnamese Coriander. Crush them then drink the extracted liquid and apply the remaining on the bite. Before applying, tightly fix the above of the bite with a wire or a cloth. The sooner you do this, the better the result will be. However, you should take the patient to the hospital rapidly after that.
A 2021 study "Screening of antioxidant and tyrosinase inhibition activities of spicy vegetables in Vietnam and application of Persicaria odorata leaf extract to preservative white leg shrimp (Litopenaus vannamei)" published in An Acad Bras Cienc by Dao T A Phan aimed to exploit natural extracts from the spicy vegetables, which are rich in phenolic compounds as an initial treatment step in the cold storage process for shrimp. Firstly, 40 extracts from 10 types of spicy vegetables in Vietnam were prepared and tested for their bioactivities. Among samples, the extract from Persicaria Odorata leaves (E-4) exhibited the highest potential of scavenging DPPH free radical (IC50 of 7.54 µg.mL-1) and decreasing tyrosinase activity with the inhibition percentage of 54.2 % at the concentration of 100 mg/mL. Twenty-two out of a total of 36 chemical compounds in the E-4 extract identified using HPLC-MS technique were phenolic compounds, in which four compounds (morin, quercetin, fisetin, astragalin) are flavonoids. Shrimp (Litopenaus vannamei) samples were treated with the E-4 extract having lower gray values, lipid peroxidation values, and microbiological counts than those of the control samples after 7 days of storage at 2 oC. These results show the potential of using the natural extract as a safe and effective alternative for commercial chemical-derived preservatives in the shrimp storage process.
Controls the Sexual Desires:
One of the reasons why this herb is used very much in Vietnam is because it is known to suppress the need of sex. It is known that most Buddhist monks have this hot mint in their garden as it helps them in having celibate life. So, don’t be surprised if you see numerous of this herb planted in most of the pagodas in Vietnam. For years, the Buddhist monks have eaten this tree regularly to achieve a tranquil soul. The Vietnamese people believe that this herb can reduce sexual desire while bean sprouts can increase it. And that’s why they have a saying: “rau răm, giá sống”. what means "Vietnamese Coriander, raw bean sprouts”.
There are no scientific studies on this unusual effect of Vietnamese Coriander. But it has been a common practice of the people when using this herb to control their libido.
Tinea Versicolor in Newborns:
If you are a mom, I guess you worry a lot about the illnesses that your children may contract. And tinea versicolor is a horror of many moms. This disease commonly occurs in infants. It causes a strange skin color in many areas in the body such as chest, neck, back, and arms. Luckily, Vietnamese Coriander is a phenomenal cure for this frightening disease. Pound the Vietnamese Coriander leaves and add in a little alcohol. Then, gently rub the mixture over the affected areas with cotton. Wipe clean the skin after about 5 minutes. Apply this treatment for 2 or 3 times per day for the best results. Please keep in mind that because this herb is relatively hot, it can cause skin irritation. Once you see your child’s skin turns red in places that you’ve applied the mixture, stop using this treatment right away.
Breast Milk Increasing:
This one is an astounding traditional tip when raising babies. Many nursing moms use Vietnamese coriander to help them produce more milk for their child. Also, the effect of this method remains unknown. Some mothers said it was useless, but others noticed significant improvements. There is no promise that this practice will work for you, but it’s still worth a try. Boil about two handfuls of Vietnamese Coriander leaves. Let it cool down for a bit but still warm. Now cover the leaves upon the breasts for about 20 to 30 minutes. And let’s see how effective it is.
When you become older, you have to deal with a variety of ailments. Diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart attack, and other diseases are among them. If you usually face unexpected heart attacks, this incredible herb can give you better sleeps. Take the extract from 50 g of Vietnamese Coriander roots. Drink it with a glass of white wine. A simple solution to fight back your nightmare.
A project report submitted to the Department of Biomedical Science Faculty of Science Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman"In vitro activity of local plants from Malaysia against Chikungunya Virus" published by Arvind Devar Ramachendrin investigated a total of 30 crude extracts from leaves and aerial parts of five Malaysian plants (Persicaria odorata,Ipomoea aquatica, Rhapis excelsa, Rhoeo spathacea, and Vernonia amygdalina) for anti-CHIKV activity. On cytotoxicity testing on Vero cells in a 72 hour NRU (neutral red uptake) assay, the ethanol extract of R. excelsa showed the highest cytotoxicity with CC50 of 51.67±2.89 µg/mL. In post-inoculation antiviral assay, all the extracts did not achieve the half-maximal effective concentration (EC50).
Traditional Uses of Vietnamese Coriander:
- There are also some fascinating beliefs about this herb. Although these beliefs have no proof, they had become a part of the tradition of Southeast Asia in general and Vietnam in particular.
- Traditionally, in Vietnam, the herb is believed to curb sexual urges.
- In Vietnam pregnant women avoid the use of rau ram, since fresh leaves seem to have abortifacient properties.
- Leaves are used as a diuretic, stomachic, febrifuge and anti-aphrodisiac.
- Leaves are used widely to treat the skin infections caused by fungi or bacteria.
- Externally the crushed leaves are applied against fever, vomiting, ringworm and phagedaena.
- Juice prepared from the crushed leaves is taken as an antidote against poisonous snake bite, and the bite is covered with the residue of the leaves.
- Roots of Vietnamese Coriander have been used for a variety of therapeutic purposes in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Culinary Uses of Vietnamese Coriander:
- In cooking, people commonly use this herb as an ideal spice. Its excellent taste and fragrance dramatically enhance the flavor of the food. Therefore, you may usually come across Vietnamese coriander in numerous Asian dishes, especially those that come from the Southeast.
- In the cuisine of Cambodia, the leaf is used in soups, stews, salads, and the Cambodian summer rolls, name.
- In Singapore and Malaysia, the shredded leaf is an essential ingredient of laksa, a spicy noodle soup, so much so that the Malay name daun kesum means “kesum leaf”.
- In Malaysia the leaf is also used for the dishes nasi kerabu and asam pedas.
- In Laos and certain parts of Thailand, the leaf is eaten with raw beef larb.
- In Australia, the plant is being examined as a source of essential oil "kesom oil".
- The leaves of rau ram are used to flavor many Vietnamese dishes.
- Fresh leaves are eaten in salads and also with incubated duck eggs, while fresh or cooked leaves are used in various fish, shellfish (mussels, clams, and oysters), and turtle and frog dishes.
- Young leaves are used raw or cooked as a flavoring.
- It is also popularly eaten with hột vịt lộn (fertilized duck egg).
- Few leaves can be added to a mixed salad, or they can be cooked with rice, vegetables etc.
- Few young shoots, combined with water dropwort (Oenanthe javanica) are often added when preparing cabbage preserved in brine (like sauerkraut).
- Vietnamese Coriander leave usually used as a flavor in culinary and it also used as additional flavor to curries and hot soups.
Other Uses of Vietnamese Coriander:
- Many Buddhist monks grow coriander in their private gardens and eat it frequently, believing it helps them remain celibate.
- The flavor is destroyed by prolonged cooking.
- In Vietnam and the Philippines flowering is profuse and starts in the first year.