Lousy smell, lovely flower, and lots of cooking and curing qualities. That’s fishwort! This East Asian herb is also called lizard tail and bishop’s weed.
WHAT DOES IT DO?
While some herbs concentrate their healing substances in various parts of the plant, fishwort — from top to root tip — kills bacteria and viruses while also serving to reduce fevers and inflammation, promote wellness of the eyes and stimulate menstruation as well as bladder and bowel functions. Fishwort has yielded a substance that has been proven effective in treating stomach ulcers. This green medicine is used externally in cases of snakebite and in a number of skin afflictions. Indeed, skin care products made from this herb successfully absorb surplus skin oil, kill acne-causing bacteria and smooth facial skin. Fishwort has earned praise from researchers who note the plant’s ability to block the release of histamines, thus helping to combat allergies as well as asthmatic attacks. By stimulating the production of lymphocytes, fishwort helps strengthen the body’s immune system.
ABOUT THE HERB
Native to moist, shady places in Japan, Korea, southern China and Southeast Asia, this small herbaceous perennial grows between 8 and 32 inches. Featuring a heart-shaped leaf — along with several other plants fishwort is also known as heartleaf — and an attractive white flower, fishwort lives up to its name with its fishy smell. With no small amount of irony, the odor attracts chefs who employ the leaf as a fresh herbal garnish to various dishes. Fishwort is particularly valued in Vietnamese cuisine. Chinese food preparers prefer mixing the root into their dishes.
Build your immune system while dining on fishwort-laced salads. Tip: by using fresh fishwort in green salads and cooked dishes during spring and summer, you can avoid the unpleasant odor that characterizes the plant once the fall season sets in. Plants from Japan bear an orange scent that adds something special to the meal!