Integrative Medicine in Vietnam – Conventional + Traditional approach.

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Integrative Medicine in Vietnam – Conventional + Traditional approach.

This week I found myself on a two hour flight north from my home in Saigon to Hanoi for an interview on the national weekly television program “Vietnamese Medicinal Plants.” The daily use of plants, herbs, teas and plant-based products to maintain optimum health and wellness is a tradition that goes back for centuries in SouthEast Asian Annamese culture. The first Vietnamese university to offer education in Traditional Medicine was established in Hanoi in the year 1070. Think about what your ancestors were doing in 1070. Unless you are descended from Native Americans, your ancestors had not yet arrived on the North American continent.

While waiting in the “Green Room” for the program to begin, I was joined by Dr. Hoang Dinh Lan. Dr. Lan, a vibrant man in his 70’s, is the Chief of Surgery and an Editor-in-Chief at the National Hospital of Traditional Medicine in Hanoi. I’m always interested in what these learned doctors have to say about Vietnamese Traditional Medicine. They invariably know the work of Dr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Tram, the woman who developed Crila®.  Mention of my work with Dr. Tram, one of Vietnam’s foremost scientists, is always a good opener and gives us common ground from which to start. Vietnamese doctors and scientists are universally proud that Crila® is now available in the U.S. and  around the world. The increasing success of Crila® in the American market, plus the Estrogen Free result from UIC’s research was the reason I was called to Hanoi for the interview.

The National Hospital is one of several around the world designated by WHO, the World Health Organization, and the World Bank, as collaborative centers on Traditional Medicine. The goal is to make a model of Integrative Medicine that is applicable to communities nationwide and can be expanded to other countries too.  WHO promotes the safety and efficacy of Traditional Medicine. In Vietnam, a Doctor of Traditional Medicine must first complete 4 years studying conventional allopathic medicine, and then another 2 years at the graduate level studying Traditional Medicine. The comprehensive curriculum results in doctors well versed in what we in the U.S. refer to as Integrated Medicine. This is arguably the best of both worlds – the integration of conventional medicine with time honored and proven “alternative” treatment or approaches respected in Traditional Medicine.  

A distinguishing feature of Integrative Medicine is due consideration for prevention, as well as routine practices incorporated into one’s daily regime to maintain optimum health. Enlightened practitioners in the U.S. increasingly recognize that this comprehensive approach to maintaining wellness makes more sense than reactionary treatment by conventional doctors to bombard symptoms with drugs after the body is already sick. I heard a description at the Cure to Cancer Summit in San Diego a couple of weeks ago that will stay with me for a long time – with respect to chemotherapy, the doctor was cautioning against blind acceptance of the belief you can “Poison yourself back to health.”

Dr. Lan admitted that he himself takes Crila® to maintain his own prostate health, and volunteered that other doctors at the National Hospital recommend Crila® as well. His comments included the holistic importance of lifestyle choices regarding diet, exercise and mental attitude, as equally important consideration when you are seeking to maintain ongoing good health. We keep hearing these recommendations for a reason – they make sense, and they work. Just do it!

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