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Chapter 3, Traditional Vietnamese Herbal Medicine

I’d like to state here for the record that this tea is not like anything you can buy off the shelf in a health food store. I have enjoyed all manner of herbal teas for years and most likely also benefitted from their natural properties, but this is totally different. Herbs are chosen because of their individual properties and/or for their synergistic effect when cooked with the entire concoction. The taste is unique to each batch’s recipe, of course depending on the ingredients. I actually have two separate batches which are prepared and drunk on alternating days. One batch is actually quite tasty, but the other, well, it is definitely much more bitter and harder to drink. (Below, I’ve included a list of a few of the ingredients translated from the Vietnamese names into Latin and then to whatever common names I found, plus a little about what these herbs are supposed to do for me.)

Here’s how the tea is prepared. We dump the package of herbs into a special ceramic pot (recommended and very cheap, but also breakable—stainless steel would also do), add threel cups of water and bring it to a slow boil over a very small charcoal burning stove. For safety and because of the smoke (only for a few minutes at the beginning) and the strong aroma of the tea while it cooks, we keep the set-up in a small protected area just in back of the kitchen. (This is an area typically built into the houses here.) Over low heat, the tea reduces down to 1 cup of liquid, which is then poured into a jar and fresh water is added again for the second cooking. The second cup of tea is added to the first and when it has cooled is refrigerated. The tea can be cooked by gas or electricity as well, but it tends to cook too quickly so the tea isn’t as potent and also becomes more costly. Charcoal cooking is recommended and is very cheap.

When I’m ready to drink it, I pour it from the jar into 2 cups, one for lunch and the other, which is for dinner, is covered and returned to the frig. I need to drink it between 10 and 20 minutes after lunch and dinner each day. That seems pretty simple, but two problems developed. I have a short lunch break and am a slow eater, so time became an issue. At first, I always drank the tea fairly hot because it didn’t taste as strong that way, but many times it was too hot or became lukewarm before I got to it and therefore harder to swallow, especially when I was in a hurry. Later, I learned to drink it cold. That made life so much easier. I believe Jesus showed me this solution a month earlier, but why did it take me so long to try it cold?!

The second problem is the dinner tea. Because my schedule rarely allows me to eat early, and my relaxed frame of mind in the evening means sometimes forgetting to drink it shortly after my last bite of food, I often find myself drinking a cup of liquid so late in evening that I wake in the night for a trip to the toilet. For most people, that would be no problem, but for me, that usually means staying awake for an hour or two and thereby messing up my next day. Well, Jesus provided a solution for the first problem; I know there’s one for the second one as well.

(Update June 2009: We’ve changed our schedule so we get up much earlier and finish our 45-60 minutes of brisk walking daily by 7 or 7:30 a.m. That means one less thing to squeeze into the afternoon/evening schedule and I can eat dinner earlier, thus my body can process the liquid earlier and I can sleep better! It has helped! This was also a point my doctor was pushing for a few months–early morning exercise is good for my cold kidneys: gets them jump started for the day!)

Names of some herbs used to fight cancer:

It’s taken me much longer than I expected, to get the Vietnamese names translated first into Latin and then into common terms and then to get some idea of what each is supposed to do. Of course, these are just a few of the many herbs in my concoction, but I thought it might be interesting to those of you who have faith that looking to what’s available in nature is generally far safer and wiser than relying totally on chemicals combined in a laboratory somewhere by folks working for big, rich companies run by people more interested in finding ways to profit from human illnesses than in seeing those diseases actually disappear. Lord help us all! So, for your information, here’s the list:

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