The K'Ho people's knowledge of herbal therapy is increasingly drawing the attention of scientists, making contribution to Vietnam's cultural and scientific heritage. Will these medicinal herbs reveal a hope for tomorrow's new medicine?
A tradition inscribed in the rural areas
In some remote areas of Vietnam, medical treatment using plants remains the main therapy used to fight against common ailments.
Indeed, due to living far from the urban centers some population groups are significantly more active. As being far from hospitals is an inherent aspect of rural life, populations have developed an in-depth knowledge of their land and its wealth to improve their way of life.
Nearly 80% of rural or native civilizations benefit from a diversified ecosystem to make their own remedies.
Vietnam is considered one of the most privileged territories in the world in terms of biodiversity and natural wealth. It is estimated that more than 12,000 plant species nationwide, including 4,000 varieties can be used as herbal medicine.
A territory rich in its biodiversity
Although Vietnamese people have long understood the subtlety of their land the use of traditional therapies is starting to dwindle. The reason is the loss of oral transmission and lack of documentation on the remedies used by their ancestors.
This cultural decline is added to climate change. While some herbal plants tend to disappear, ethnic groups such as the K'Ho still favor the riches of their land to promote natural medicine.
The province of Lam Dong, where they live, remarkable for its wild biodiversity is still preserved from industrial development. The Magnoliophytes is the most abundant plant group since it represents more than 60% of the local vegetation coverage.
These flowering plants, also known as angiosperms, have reproductive organs that help them make contact with the main pollinators. The Magnoliophytes include a large number of plants and conifers that create natural landscapes such as savannas or forests.
An alternative for medical treatment
The K'Ho have a great number of natural remedies, most of the medicinal plants they use belong to the wild herbaceous family. They grow mainly in forests or mountains.
Their picking is intended to promote a sustainable harvest. Different parts of the plant such as leaves, seeds and roots will be used for different medicinal purposes.
The use of the plants depends basically on the pathology to be treated. In some cases, a plant may be combined with another remedy to allow them to work in synergy.
Medicinal plants are ingested or applied by local people after having gone through a decoction process.
K'Hos use plants to treat common digestive disorders such as flatulence, diarrhea or stomach-ache. Plants provide natural solutions at lower cost in case of skin diseases, fever and malaria.
The use of medicinal plants in some rural areas underlines people's desire to preserve and understand their direct environment. Healthcare using herbal plants is the manifestation of the first strong connection between man and nature. This need for reconnection with the Earth goes far beyond the rural areas to reach the big urban centers. Herbal medicine enhances the value of a new economy, defended by a community who are seeking autonomy in a nature that has now been neglected.