No other household product is as ubiquitous in Vietnamese households as the ‘external analgesic.. penetrating pain relief’ Eagle Brand Dau Xanh. Don’t believe me? Show this picture to your grandmother and she’ll show you her treasure chest of the goodies. As for me, I personally keep a therapeutic bottle next to me when I’m studying for finals. A healthy dose of this over my head helps soothe brain pains from too much studying. Below is a very poignant and touching article about Dau Xanh written by our guestblogger Ben. Cheers!
Dau Xanh, the Asian Cure-all
by: Ben Khuc, a fourth year human biology major and premed at UCSD, is a GSMDM committee member whose passion is to serve the people of Vietnam.
If you grew up in a Vietnamese or Chinese family like I did, your mother or grandma might have rubbed this ointment on your bruises or scrapes when you got hurt. This elixir has been hailed as the Asian panacea to all the diseases in the book. Got a cut? Rub this on it. Got muscle pain? Rub this on it. Have a cold? Rub this on it and scrape your skin with a soup spoon (if you don’t know what this procedure is, you’re better off not knowing). What I’m talking about is the Eagle Brand Medicated Oil, or more commonly known as d?u xanh.
As a child, I had this stuff slathered all over me frequently. As you can imagine, the average elementary boy like myself had quite a lot of scrapes and falls from jumping around and doing other monkey-like business. So you can imagine that my mother’s bottle of d?u xanh was always on hand. I knew when she would get it too. She would first look at my scrape, then ask me why I was such a noob, then she would reach for her bottle. The sharp menthol fragrance would fill the room, and tickle my nose. Although the feeling of this stuff stung like no other when applied, I found comfort in my mother dressing my wounds.
Now that i’m all grown up and living on my own, I have to dress my own wounds. Usually, my ointments come in the form of antibiotic creams like Neosporin. I mean, a big pre-med like myself can’t be caught with a hocus pocus bottle of Asian herbal stuff right? Now that I am a big “scientist” and all, everything from my childhood seemed so silly. There was many times I would think back during my biology lectures and say “Aha! Mother was wrong about that!” and find a sliver of satisfaction. But even with all that knowledge, I still felt that something was missing every time I dressed my own wounds.
That feeling of my mother gently dabbing my scrape. The smell of that menthol in the air. The hug that I received afterwards. Though that moment in life was long gone, it has made quite an impression on my being. Though I know now that the oil probably didn’t do much for me medically, it did provided me healing on a whole other level. Many fond memories that I have had with that menthol-scented bottle.
Tonight I am spending the night at my parents house. While I was brushing my teeth, I spied in the corner of my eye that little green bottle. I took it in my hand, twisted the cap, and took a whiff.
“Man, this stuff IS the Asian cure-all.”
What about your childhood do you still cherish today?
f150 owner says
If it’s true that our species is alone in the world, then I’d have to say the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little
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I came across your posting while searching for the name of that mysterious green stuff my Viet mom always slathered on me too. Thanks! Hilarious and very accurate posting!
I was introduced to this “little green bottle” in 1969 while serving in Vietnam. 25 yrs. later, a nice Vietnamese woman knew what I was talking about and obtained a bottle for me from an Asian Market in Las Vegas. I used it in Vietnam to mask the smell. A drop applied by fingertip onto my mustache lasted for hours. Now I use it to clear my sinus’s before sleeping. A fingertip amount applied the same way. I don’t snore and sleep like a baby thanks to this product. A small bottle will last me twenty years or so. I have also used it on sore muscles. Use sparingly, a little goes a long way. When my grandson has a stuffed up nose due to a cold, I have him watch TV while I pass the opened bottle back and forth under his nose. Ten minutes later, he is breathing normally. GREAT STUFF.
For over forty years I have used a dab of this beneath each nostril before bed. I breath great all night long. It is also great for situations where there is “bad” air, such as Vietnam. This masks the odors and makes everything smell minty fresh.
HOW DO I GET THIS .. AM ALMOST OUT AND NEED TO RESTOCK?