Having existed for generations, Vietnamese traditional medicine, also known as Southern Medicine (Thuoc Nam), is considered to drive the parallel evolution with Northern Medicine and Western Medicine, creating three main traditions. Seen as Vietnamese people’s pride, Southern Medicine was originally handed down verbally and primarily used with folk remedies that rely entirely on common ingredients.
Traditional Theories of Vietnamese Traditional Medicine
Despite differing in practice, traditional Chinese medicine and traditional Vietnamese medicine share the same theoretical foundation – Dong Y (Eastern Medicine) theories which are Yin and Yang, and Five Elements. The balance of Yin and Yang between two opposite states (such as cold and hot), according to Eastern medicine’s principle, is instrumental in the human body’s life. Whilst Yin is the interior and negative principles, Yang is the exterior and positive principles. Another major theory of Dong Y is the Five elements named specifically Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal. It is assumed that the flow of energy in our body follows the same principle from water nourishing wood, wood brings fire, fire forms ashes (earth), and earth solidifies to form metal.
Diagnosis & Treatment of Vietnamese Traditional Medicine
Vietnamese practitioners of Northern Medicine relied on the four-part clinical examinations: visual inspection, auditory perception, interrogation, and taking patient’s pulses. Differing from western medicine, in Vietnamese traditional medicine, by examining the pulses and tongue, practitioners can imagine the disharmony between different elements and one’s body. They basically employ their therapy for proper syndromes rather than a patient’s complaints and then review all the symptoms to judge the ultimate source of illness.
In addition to diagnosis, the remedy is one of the typical features of Vietnamese traditional medicine which utilizes native ingredients such as tropical plants and animals. Physicians may prescribe medication with a majority of common herbs, vegetables, animal products, or even flowers in their fresh state or simply dried state. Particular drugs are designed to stimulate or ease particular organs, or added to counteract the destructive side-effects. Not only are ingested preparations offered but ointments and poultice are also an extraordinary part of the treatment coupled with steaming therapy. One more interesting thing is that southern medicine places a heavy emphasis on dietetics, temperature, or the spiciness of the food. Many therapies are prone to change a patient’s diet that is harmful to digestion and other organs.
In recent days, modern medicine has been subject to gain an increasing dominance; however, Southern indigenous medicine that is focused on radical cure rather than crash therapy is still given a priority. With millennial history, Vietnamese traditional medicine is invaluably national treasure due to the amazing curative effects reported.