It was a Saturday morning when we ran into MaiChou and her tall dark and handsome husband Humberto at the Hmong New Year at El Dorado Park in Long Beach, California. I have not seen these two in ages! After we talked a bit. They were kind enough to invite me, my mom, and my husband to their home and visit their medicinal herb plants in their backyard.
We were in line at the food both waiting to order Hmong food. It’s just grilled chicken, grilled pork, and Hmong sausages. Its a must have over sticky rice. A recipes that we can easily make at home. It just taste better at the new year. Plus some chili sauce only Hmong people know how to make.
We took up a bench behind the stage and chit chat and catching up some more over delicious spicy papaya salad. Oh my goodness I’m salivating! MaiChou had invited us to visit with them. I was a little hesitant because we had to drive four and a half hours home to Arizona. Yes we drove. More like my husband drove. Eventually I gave in.
When Sunday rolled along. We picked up my mom because she’ll be staying with us for Christmas. My husband parked the Prius across the street and we headed towards their house.
As we walked up the street to their two story home. Her ornamental plants the begonias, the crown of thrones, the cockscomb flowers, and the plumeria trees stood stagger in the cool breeze.
It’s December and they are going dormant for the season but manage to greet us, waving hello with the help of some gentle breeze. Mai Chou rushed us into her home before we get too cold.
While chating with her she told us a story. Some while ago. I listened intensely to her story. When she went to visit her maternal family in northern California. On her way back she had a car accident. Yeah pretty scary. Thank God nothing was broken. She suffered a minor concussion so she thinks.
She proceeds to described a horrific image that is now embedded in my mind. When the vehicles collided on the slippery road on the interstate 5, it left her a bruise that had formed from the left side of her face. It ran from her chin up to her left forehead. She could not opened her left eye. It had smashed in so bad she thought she would never be able to see correctly again.
Always believe in moms. Thank goodness for herbalist moms. Most of our moms are herbalist by trade. It’s been handed down from generation to generation. Her mother used this plant to heal her face.
Her mother picked fresh leaves of this plant, put it to a boil. She then pours the boiling herb into a can. Her mother had her bend over to let the steam evaporated over her bruise. She said it was unbelievable. Her left eye which she could not open, opened. It was like a miracle.
She is Now a firm believer that it works. I wish I know the American English name for this plant but we call it nkaj soob in Hmong.
Sharing Herbal Plants
It was kind of MayChou to shares her knowledge and herbal plants with me. Her husband Humberto has quite a green thumb. He and my husband swap stories about their wives. Laughing and looking our way as MaiChou continued to show us her papaya tree and guava tree. He warns my husband that his wife has a brown thumb. He chuckled away at his own statement while my amused husband made face at me.
My mom also chimed in about her knowledge of herbal plants. She shares her secrets with us as well. MaiChou and I listened with awe. MaiChou went around and started pulling her herbal plants and told me I should try to grow somewhere I live. I was hesitant. I’m not sure if it will survive the drive home. Why not.
Besides, she convinced me. She said we all should at lease have some. Just in case her dies off I have some and vise versa.
Most of the herbs and medicinal herb plants are propagated from cuttings. A few are by seeds.
What’s great about this is that a lot of Hmong women out there would not share their knowledge. It’s not that they do not want to, it’s because they believe that they paid someone for their knowledge they want something in return. It’s almost like the voodoo magic or black magic were the payment is for the spirit not them.
That’s very understandable. To pay for something you take pride in it. One lady mention that if she does not get something in return she would develop migraines. Don’t know if it’s true but that’s what I was told.
Why Plant Herbal Plants
I love to garden. I love to grow anything. When things grow it excites me. I just love to learn. I think I’m addicted to learning. I have to admit I’m a slow learner but eventually I’ll get there. Maybe because I like to take my time and really take information in. Especially things that I love to do. How many love words in this paragraph? Sheesh.
I started following my mom and grandmother out to a little patch of dirt they call their garden. Grandma explains how to plant and use medical plants. It’s was fascinating. That’s when I realize I want to learn about healing herbs.
So why plant herbal plants? I mention above it heals bruises, cuts, inflammations, and sprains. I think becoming a herbalist with your own medical herb garden would be awesome.
I rather take some home made herbs to cure a minor ailment then pop some pills anytime. I used them to cure headaches and fever. I made some for nausea. It worked great.
Where to Find Them
Now were can you find these medicinal herb plants and make it your own? That’s a little tricky. I have been searching and asking around for a long time. I have joined a couple of Facebook groups hoping to learn a few plants. But they are asking the members, “If you know of any medicinal herb plants then please post them there.” Just my luck.
So many Hmong herbalist lives in Minnesota and Fresno that have all the herb plants you want. Just need to pay a little or go visit them. During the Fresno Hmong New Year which they have every year after Christmas until the 1st of January. They have a lot of medicinal herb vendors. Go explore and let me know.
Only downside is I live in the desert. I find that challenging. Find your zone here.
I had the pleasure of meeting Maichou and her husband. They were a great hosts. He mentions a sweet olive bush that the aroma is so strong that you can smell it from outside with a little push from the wind. I did smell it. Smelled just like the name, sweet.
Having a medicinal herb plants in your backyard is an excellent thing to grow. MaiChou have a beautiful full backyard of herbs. Everything you need from making the postpartum chicken diet soup, sprains, fever, and bruises.
Guys and gals if you know the American English name for the bush (nkaj soob) above please share. Feel free to comment. And give us your knowledge so we all can benefit from each other and mother-nature. Thanks in advance.