In Daily Life, To Do In Saigon, Traditions

If you ever wanderin the streets where medicinal shops abound, you’ve most certainly stumbled upona weird-snake’s-skin-looking plant. Its strange appearance looks like it is half-plant and half-animal. As it is incredibly soft to touch, one may even believe that it is some kind of corduroy! 

The Vietnamese name of this strange plant is “Đỗ trọng” (scientific name “Eucommia ulmoides”) and it is an ancient deciduous tree coming from China. Its Chinese name is “Du Zhong “ and it is more commonly known as “Hardy Rubber tree”. It represents one of the 50 most essential herbs in traditional Chinese medicine.

“Đỗ trọng” bark has been used in traditional Chinese herbalism for over 3,000 years. Traditionally, it used to treat lower back and leg pain, arthritis, stiffness and knee problems. It is also believed to have diuretic properties and could help fortify the bones, ligaments and tendons. Last but not least, it is also known to induce fat loss and to treat liver deficiency. Basically, it is used in almost all Chinese formulas to lower blood pressure. The most controversial (and yet famous) power of the Eucommia bark is that it could prevent miscarriages.

Nowadays this plant is becoming more and more popular as it is recommended for vitality enhancement and longevity, working as a tonic and detoxifying product.

The part that is mostly used for medicinal purposes is the gray-brown grooved bark. The outer bark is peeled away and the smooth inner bark is dried.

Usually, the bark is to be boiled in water and used as decoction. It can also be found as a capsule or a powder.

Although it can be used alone, “Đỗ trọng” bark is most often combined with other herbs that support its functions. Pharmacists of local herb shops would usually prescribe doses of approximately 30g of “Đỗ trọng” to boil in 1L of water and then advise you to drink the resulting beverage at least 10 times before it starts to work.

In some shops, another product might catch your attention: a dark brown sticky dough.

This home-made mixture cures and heal pimples. One particular shop owner in D5 calls it her “sticking medicine“.

She uses the traditional and well-kept-secret recipe of her family and she insists on the fact that she does not sell this treatment, but rather prepares it and offers it to clients who come to her shop asking her for help. Her recommendations: “Simply apply it on the pimples, 3 times a day and for 2 weeks. Then wait for the medicine to work. You will not regret it!”


If you want to visit some places selling traditional treatments, book our self-guided tour and come investigate the strange case of Dr Lam!

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