Author: Tran Cong Khanh
Hanoi University of Pharmacy,
13 Le Thanh Tong, Hanoi.
Centre for Research and Development of Ethno-medicinal Plants (CREDEP)
9, Vu Huu Loi St., Hanoi, Vietnam.
Stretching from 8-23 degrees N latitudes, Vietnam is blessed with highly diverse climatic and geographical zones. As a result, the country possesses a very rich and diverse biodiversity, including a large number of medicinal plants, of which about 3,948 species are registered. Vietnam has also a long history of traditional medicine, which plays an important role for the health care of its people, especially in the mountainous areas.
Today apart from the ‘Kinh’ people, who represents about 86% of the population, there are 53 ethnic minority groups, some of them live in very remote areas, and they are isolated from other groups of the populations. Since immemorial time, during a long period of struggle for survival, every group of people (including the old Viet group) has come to accumulate experiences of using plants as medicines to treat various diseases and to keep them healthy. The knowledge and their experiences to treat diseases are inherited medical knowledge handed down orally from generation to generation and often kept in secret.
This paper gives an overview on the medicinal plants of Vietnam (especially ethnomedicinal plants and medical indigenous knowledge) from the past to present, and their potential value for the development of new medicines in the near future. It will also discuss some issues on modernization of traditional medicine, and how to create a system of indigenous knowledge registration, especially for the ethnic minority people living in the mountainous areas in Vietnam.
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