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The Future of Vietnamese Traditional Medicine

August 31, 2011
Vietnamese Traditional Medicine
Vietnamese Traditional Medicine

Vietnamese Traditional Medicine, Noni

The Future of Vietnamese Traditional Medicine

In the earlier articles, we have tried to chronicle the history of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine (TVM) and to note both some of the differences with its relative Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which is a much larger and in most cases better known kin of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine.  We also have noted that Traditional Vietnamese Medicine is experiencing a rebirth as many healers like  Nguyen Van Be (usually called “Ong Ba Dat Phen”) have increasingly tried to better document it and to give it an increasing scientific basis.

In 2010, Traditional Vietnamese Medicine is at a crossroads and there is much change going on in many aspects of the industry.  Key in helping to lead and direct this change again is Nguyen Van Be and his joint stock company Mephydica.  This company was founded in 1983 as a research center “Center of Research, Conservation, Development the Material Medicine in Dong Thap Muoi” (Trung tam Nghien Cuu Bao Ton Phat Trien Duoc Lieu Dong Thap Muoi).

In November 2009, Ong Ba converted the center into Joint Stock Company to help it to continue to develop economically and to gain more revenue to protect the environment in his area and to promote economic development.  Currently Mephydica acts as steward and as ultimately the protector of 1,000 hectares of land, canals, swamp and forest.  The company currently has approximately 100 employees and annual sales of over  6 billion VN Dong or roughly about $300,000.  Thirty percent of this production is ultimately exported, mostly through partners. Sustainable development, environmental protection and increasing use of good science are hallmarks of Mephydica under the leadership of Ong Ba.

In 2010, Mephydica, formed a relationship with Delphi Health Services.  Delphi Health Service was started by Chris, Soraya and Charles Runckel in Thailand in 2006 to carry out research on plant, animal and human genetics and to develop various patented processes based on modern genetics in the testing for diabetes in SE Asians, for skin improvement and for other human genetics tests.  The company also carried out research on tests and methods to improve raising of healthy shrimp, algae as a agent for making bio-diesel and many other projects.  Delphi has similarly followed core tenets that encourage the use of sustainable agriculture and protection of the environment through well-conceived scientific and business planning.

Mr. Nguyen Van Be

Nguyen Van Be, Ong Ba Dat Phen

In 2010, a decision was made to collaborate with Bui Truong Minh and Mai T.N. Huong who had graduated with a Masters in Plant Biotechnology from Holland on a new venture in Vietnam focussed on entering Vietnam’s nascent biotech market and helping to bring the benefits of modern biotech and biochemical science to Vietnamese companies involved in health, food production, cosmetics and skincare and other industries. Vietnam was in the process of change at this point as the government sought to push many government institutes to privatize and to seek outside funding for more and more of their research.

Early on Mai and I met  Mr. Nguyen Van Be (Ong Ba) who shared our view that Vietnam needed to make increased usage of modern science in many fields.  We started collaborating with him in first the field of Vietnamese Traditional Medicine and development of medicinal herbs.  This collaboration soon spread to shared interest in development of bio-pesticides based on Neem which has been planted in Vietnam in order to inhibit soil erosion as a potential way to reduce the use of chemical pesticides in Vietnam and to reduce imports and also on a modern spa based on Vietnamese Traditional Medicine and Ong Ba’s observations over the importance of food, a peaceful setting, access to nature and other concepts; to bio-pesticides plus many other subjects.

Today, Delphi Health Service is established in Vietnam and is in the process of opening a modern biotech lab in Vietnam to better research and document the many current projects.  We are involved in projects in many locations in Vietnam and daily talk with businesses who are seeking the unique scientific approach we utilize and the modern skills of brand identification, marketing and innovative management we employ.

Our current focus concerns medicinal herbs.  Vietnam has had thousands of years of experience with medicinal herbs.  Traditional Vietnamese Medicine is largely unknown in comparison to its much better known Chinese cousin but is undergoing a rebirth in Vietnam.  Further the production of essential oils and other herbal compounds is gaining increased scientific attention as individuals and companies look for new ways to deal with infection, cancer, AIDS and many modern diseases.  One fairly unique focus that we bring to this portion is our work is our focus on increasing the sustainability of Vietnam’s efforts in terms of medicinal herbs.  We are currently working to improve the protection of scarce medicinal herbs and other plant products and to encourage others to act as better stewards of the country’s biological diversity before it is too late.  This work currently has much urgency as many medicinal compounds are becoming increasingly scarce in Vietnam as they have been harvested in an unsustainable and unprofessional manner and with no thought to the future or to future generations.

Each day is a new opportunity for Delphi Health Service staff in Vietnam to both help others and to learn.  We work in fields that are both ancient – Vietnamese Traditional Medicine – but also those that are among the most modern – human, animal and plant biotechnology and their relation to the above field and to many others.  We are leading efforts to protect Vietnam’s unique herbal and plant biodiversity.  Daily we bring new studies and new ways of looking to improve business and agricultural work in Vietnam.

Vietnam in the 21st Century is a challenging business and research environment but it is also an area where a relatively small number of people and a relatively modest investment can lead to new opportunities to improve conditions markedly in the the country.   Please contact us if we can help your operations in Vietnam or if you can use our access to essential oils, modern herbal medicine and medicinal herb abstracts.  We look forward to your call or visit.

Vietnamese Traditional Medicine

Ong Ba Dat Phen and Vietnamese Traditional Medicine


Source: Business In Asia

About the Author: 

Christopher W. Runckel, a former senior US diplomat who served in many counties in Asia, is a graduate of the University of Oregon and Lewis and Clark Law School. He served as Deputy General Counsel of President Gerald Ford’s Presidential Clemency Board. Mr. Runckel is the principal and founder of Runckel & Associates, a Portland, Oregon based consulting company that assists businesses expand business opportunities in Asia. (

Until April of 1999, Mr. Runckel was Minister-Counselor of the US Embassy in Beijing, China. Mr. Runckel lived and worked in Thailand for over six years. He was the first permanently assigned U.S. diplomat to return to Vietnam after the Vietnam War. In 1997, he was awarded the U.S. Department of States highest award for service, the Distinguished Honor Award, for his contribution to improving U.S.-Vietnam relations. Mr. Runckel is one of only two non-Ambassadors to receive this award in the 200-year history of the U.S. diplomatic service.



For meeting Mr. Nguyen Van Be or Ong Ba Dat Phen and Khanh An Drugs and Pharmacy in person, contact us:

Khanh An Drug and Pharmacy Co., Ltd was found with the goal of taking care of and protecting health right at the beginning together by natural products in daily life in order to enhance continuously the body resistance against diseases and prevention from the external factors which cause confusion of body functions. To patients, the company helps them fight against illness and recover health strongly. Let’s make life become more lovely and healthier.

KHANH AN CO., LTD is specialized in producing and trading: Drugs; Flavorings, completely natural essential oil; Materials extracted finely from herbal remedy; Functional foods

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