Thursday, May 12, 2011


Tam Ngyuen

While my husband, Sam, and I were walking along the Clear Creek in Camp Verde, to my surprise I saw a plantago major L (common plantain.) It was a dead ringer for what Vietnamese call ripple grass. For me, the leaves look like a soup spoon. Americans treat it as a weed, but in Vietnam it is herbal medicine.

My Dad used it as a treatment for urinary tract infection for me. He pulled all the plant from the ground, cleaned off the dirt, cut it small pieces, and then boiled it in water adding a little salt, making as a soup. I ate the soup for a week and then my urinary tract infection was over. It was cured.
The people in village mashed the leaves and use the viscous liquid to apply on burns from flames. In the hospital, they made an ointment from the leaves to apply on smaller burns. There are different uses for another treatment, too. The plant is processed inside a laboratory and turned into a good product for hemorrhoids used topically.

It has many uses for health. It depends on how the laboratories compound it for using.

We can cut enough fresh leaves into small, thin pieces to fill a small pot and put glycerine on it to cover the leaves. Mix the leaves together and stir until finished. Sift the solution and keep in a dark jar. This ointment works calming the itching skin rash.

With me, I like plantagino major L because I can eat it as soup. This plant growth begins at spring and grows fast in summer. The good time the collect leaves is around May to July, but for the seeds it will be later one more month.
It was surprise me when I saw them here in the desert. I was so happy to see this kind of plants again. It reminded me a wonderful time with my Dad, talking about interesting plants, spending time to watching them, and, also, stories about climates, weather, soils, all the necessary conditions for plant grow up. It seems my home town here. It just looked exactly like the plants which my Dad used for me. And it was also the plant my Dad and I have been talking about it. It was a kind of weed that has many cures for health, but it still has secrets for me because this kind of weeds grow many different places on the world

This plant still is a grass on the forest. I did some researching around for plantago major L. There are several experimental programs using plantago major L. It was proof for me about my Dad. He was not just a farmer in the highlands of Vietnam, using folklore to help me cure about urinary tract infection. And he also had been using the plant for hypertension and blood sugar control. He told me about the miracle of the plant because it can be used as treatment for the symptoms of asthma. This is important for me because Sam has suffered from asthma for most of his life. The plantago major L permeates the bronchial passages and brings relief. The folklore will maybe become the truth, but it also has a long story of us as an alternative medicine dating back to ancient time.

The plants are still out on the creek. It just make me feel good about the wild weeds. It can turn out for good purpose if we can domesticate it for herbal medicine or just simple as a green house vegetable.

The leaves of plantago major L in the salad are a rich source of vitamin C. In the early spring, it becomes used especially for extra vitamin C when people want fresh vegetables. It is so nice for culinary uses and can be used in a vegetable soup. It is simple to make a bowl of soup. Just cut the leaves in small pieces as you want and cook with shrimp or chicken broth, maybe even though with only the water. It is so delicious. It helps for intestine. Just put a little medicine in the soup bowl.

Tam Ngyuen is a student at The Literacy Center and NAU. Dana Prom Smith edits GARDENING ETCETERA, blogs at, and his email is


heather said...

Wish this guy would come participate in growing these medicine plants in the community garden in Doney park..we will soon need them ! 928 814-9600 Heather Bostian
Holistic Bodywork Design

hal traylor said...

i live in flagstaff abd have only a place to plant tomatoes which gets morning sun only. what varietyies) do you recommend? thanks


Dear Hal,

Check out my privious blog: Tomatoes, the Enduring Vision.