Vap ca is commonly known as the fish plant as it has a very strong fish like odor and taste. The herb is commonly used in Vietnamese cooking as it imparts its fish like flavor to the food. It is also added in salads and steamed vegetables in Northeast India. In Japan, Vap ca is popularly used as a rejuvenating tonic herbal tea. The herb is also mentioned in the Japanese Pharmacopoeia for its herbal properties.
What is Vap ca?
Vap ca is botanically known as Houttuynia cordata and Gymnotheca chinensis. The herb belongs to the Saururaceae family. The following are the other names of the herb – Fish plant, Polypora, Dokudamim, Yu-xing-cao, giấp cá, pak kao tong, lizard tail, Ja mardoh, heart leaf and chameleon plant.
The herb can be predominantly seen in Southeast Asia, China, Nepal and in North east India. Vap ca is characterized by its heart shaped leaves and fish like odor. As a plant, Vap ca is herbaceous and perennial in nature. The herb has greenish yellow colored flowers.
How does it work?
Vap ca has the following two important chemicals – myrcene and 2-undecanone. The herb is antiviral, antibacterial and anti-leukemic in nature.
Following are some of the health related benefits of using Vap ca:
Fresh leaves of Vap ca are also used in traditional medicine in tea form to treat the following respiratory conditions – cough, bronchitis, influenza, malignant pleural effusion, pneumonia and refractory hemoptysis. In China, scientists are now testing Vap ca as a possible cure for treating SARS virus.
In Traditional medicine, Vap ca is used to treat chronic ear infections. In Japan, the herbal tea made using Vap ca is used to solve inflammation of the middle ear. This benefit of the herb has been widely used by many as a home remedy for ear infection. Vap ca is also associated with the treatment of the following conditions due to its anti-bacterial and anti-viral actions – urinary tract infection, sinusitis and infection after a surgical procedure.
According to a myth, Vap ca is known as the frog leaf as it has the power to resuscitate a half dead frog. This shows the ability of the herb in treating sick animals. The herb is commonly used in tea form to treat people suffering from fever and sickness. In Japan, Vap ca is considered a rejuvenating herb. The herb is known as Dokudami in Japan, and the term simply refers to an herb that helps in detoxification by getting rid of harmful bacteria and viruses in the body.
Skin & Bone
The herb can be used as a wash or in poultice form to treat the following skin related conditions – hemorrhoids, boils, gout, herpes simplex, rheumatism and inflammation of the cervix & pelvis. It is also applied topically at the site of a fracture to help in bone development. In an in-vitro study, Vap ca was shown to have inhibitory action against pseudorabies herpes virus.
Vap ca is also associated with the treatment of the following digestive complaints – stomach cramps, gas, dysentery, stomach ulcers etc. The herbal tea also acts as an appetite stimulant.
In traditional medicine, Vap ca is also associated with the treatment of the following – kidney disorders, low BP, low immunity, liver spots, diuresis, obesity, weak capillary walls etc. In China, the herb is now studied as a possible cancer cure due to its anti-leukemic activities.
Vap ca is popularly used in tea form. To prepare an infusion, soak 15 grams of the herbal extract in two cups of water for ten minutes, and then boil the solution for three minutes. One to two cups of this herbal mixture can be then taken every day for a week. The herb is used externally as a wash and in poultice form to treat skin conditions like insect bites and herpes simplex.
The herb has not been studied extensively in scientific settings and the side effects associated are unknown. However, it was found in a recent Chinese study that in injection form the herb may cause severe allergic reactions in some.
Vap ca is a localized herb that is available only in some remote parts of India, China, Japan and Vietnam. Due to this reason, its popularity is limited to these areas of the globe. The leaves of Vap ca have a unique fish like taste and are slightly sour. The herb can be eaten in food amounts and tastes best with grilled meat.
The chemical interactions of Vap ca with other drugs and herbs are not known due to lack of relevant scientific studies on this herb.