• Moloya G.

Chameleon or Fish mint plant - The antiviral wonder herb

Chameleon plant, botanically named Houttuynia cordata, is a medicinal and edible herb with an aromatic smell that has long been used in Asia to treat pneumonia, hypertension, constipation, and hyperglycemia via detoxification, reduction of heat and diuretic action.

There is accumulating evidence of multiple pharmaceutical effects of Houttuynia cordata, such as anti-cancer, anaphylactic inhibitory, antimutagenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, antioxidative , anti-viral , anti-bacterial , anti-obesity and anti-diabetic activities. Anti-viral properties of this herb have become acclaimed while treating against SARS virus.

Its origin is traced to East Asia. Now the plant is found in vast areas of India, Nepal, Thailand, China and Korea.The Chameleon plant is grown as ornamental in Europe and the USA. Often called as Fish mint or Fish wort plant due to its strong raw fishy smell.

The Japanese dokudani cha or Chameleon plant tea is popular beverage known to be very effective in chronic earaches. In Vietnam, the leaves are used as a leafy vegetable and also for garnishing.

The leaves and roots which are aromatic are relished in Manipur, India in salads like singju, which is a combination of raw leaves, lotus root slices and herbs. Flavoured with sesame seeds, toasted beans and pungent fermented fish with lots of chillies, it’s a healthy delicacy. Leaves are also used to prepare fritters with chickpea flour.

In Nepal, where this herb grows widely, leaves and roots are used to flavour pickles. In several southwestern provinces of China, the roots of this herb is consumed as a root vegetable.

Fish mint is a storehouse of nutrients like amino acids, vitamins and trace elements such as potassium, zinc, iron, copper and manganese. It also contains bioactive compounds such as flavonoids such as quercetin and rutin, D-limonene, alpha pinene etc that have antioxidant potential.

Still in doubt about this nutria-rich amazing but strong-smelling wonder herb??? Try these few traditional, healthy recipes of Assam , using Fish mint leaves or in Assamese 'Masundari' that’ll make you fall in love with this amazing herb:

Boiled small fish in fresh mint leaves sauce with garlic, chilli and raw mustard oil.

Banana leaf wrapped Fish mint chutney-

Clean ,wash and steam fresh mint leaves with a chilli, few cloves of garlic , wrapped in a banana leaf. When cooked, mash with a little mustard and salt to taste. A perfect accompaniment for a healthy lunch.

Lentil fritters with fish mint leaves

These easy, delicious fritters are an excellent and healthy snack for your kids and great accompaniment to your afternoon tea.

For the recipes check out our recipe section.

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