From ancient times until now, medicinal plants have always played a key role in maintaining the health and well-being of communities around the world. Vietnam is located in the tropical monsoon tropical belt of Asia with three quarters of the continental part of hills, stretching from north to south. Such natural conditions have really given our country a rich and varied forest ecosystem.
According to preliminary statistics, our country has nearly 12,000 species of vascular plant of more than 2.256 genera, 305 families (4% of total species, 15% of total, 75% of total plant family gender). Not only plays a role as green lungs regulate the climate, forest flora also bring a great potential of medicinal plants in particular with the resources in general medicine.
Biodiversity of medicinal plants
In Vietnam, the research on medicinal plants has been carried out very early, associated with the names of many famous doctors such as Zen Master Tue Tinh with the “Nam Pharmaceutical Spirit” about 499 medicines, Of these, 241 are derived from plants. Hai Thuong Lan Ong Le Huu Trac with the “Linh Nam Ban Thao” includes two books: 496 copy of the successor of Tue Tinh, 305 book subscribed for additional use or new discoveries.
During the French colonial period, botanists in the west have recorded in Indochina there are 1,350 medicinal plants of 160 different plant families. Until the North was liberated (1954), Vietnam has many favorable conditions in collecting and researching medicinal plant resources. In 1996, Vo Van Chi reported that medicinal plants in Vietnam had 3,200 species (including mushrooms). By 2005, the Institute of Medicinal Materials recorded in Vietnam more than 3,984 medicinal species belonging to 307 families of 9 branches and groups of higher plants, plants and fungi; Nearly 90% of them are natural medicinal plants, mainly in forest communities, with only 10% being grown.
Vietnam has a rich and diversified forest ecosystem.
The most recent is Vo Van Chi’s statistic in “The Dictionary of Vietnamese Medicinal Plants” (2012) with the number of plant species used for medicine is 4,700. As a result, the number of medicinal plants under investigation has increased steadily over time. This proves that, if further investigation is done, plant resources used in medicine in Vietnam can be much larger, estimated to be up to 6,000 species.
The medicinal plants are widely distributed throughout the country with eight focus areas: Northwest, North East, Red River Delta, North Central, Eastern Truong Son, South Central Coast, Central Highlands, South East and Mekong River Delta. Cuu Long; Focusing mainly on 5 centers of biodiversity are Bach Ma, Lam Vien, Hoang Lien Son, Cuc Phuong, Yok Don and Cat Tien. Of the listed species, there are many species that are classified as rare in the world such as Ngoc Linh ginseng, Wild Wilderness, Apricot, Red Pine … in which, Ngoc Linh ginseng (or Vietnamese ginseng) is a Among the most saponin ginseng, higher than the ginseng has long been studied in the world such as Korean ginseng, Chinese ginseng.
At present, 39,381 folk remedies have been collected from 12,531 physicians. Recently, many pharmaceuticals have been developed based on knowledge used by the community such as the knowledge of the use of tea trees to treat Tay people in Cao Bang, or the knowledge of use of medicinal healers of Cham people. … These activities also play an important role in preserving, maintaining and continuously developing the cultural values of ethnic groups and bio-diversity of medicinal plants and at the same time opening up the prospects for the development of species. New drugs, bringing a promising future for community health care.
In addition, Vietnam is also blessed for a part of terrain with the ocean with more than 3,000 km coastline, the sea area is over 1 million km 2 . Hence, it is worth mentioning that tropical marine resources are rich in quantity and rich in content. Many researches have discovered that precious compounds from seaweed and seaweed provide high nutritional value, have many beauty effects, make medicines, especially anti-cancer substances, substances antibiotics, anti-inflammatory, high blood pressure … However, this field has not been focused much research.
Great potential of medicinal plants in Vietnam
In recent years, the use of medicinal products of pharmaco-chemical origin is inadequate and inconsistent side effects, long-term effects on the health of patients. Therefore, the trend of using natural herbal medicines is increasing, not only in Asian countries but also in Western countries.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 80% of the rural population and developing countries rely on herbal medicines for community health care. In developed countries, one in four of the statistic drugs contained in the formulations contain active ingredients. In Vietnam, according to the report of the Drug Administration – Ministry of Health, each year our country consumes about 50-60 thousand tons of different kinds of pharmaceuticals, used in the processing of traditional medicine, raw material for pharmaceutical industry or export. With such a large market, medicinal plants in general and medicinal plants in particular have brought greater economic value than any food crops. According to statistics, in 2012, turnover from drug production in medicine in Vietnam reached 3,500 billion (1.75 times more revenue in 2010).
Of the quantities consumed, more than two thirds of the volume of medicinal plants is extracted from the roots of natural medicinal plants and cultivated in water. Particularly from the source of natural medicinal plants provided up to 20-25 thousand tons per year. This volume actually includes only about 300 species commercially exploited and commercialized. Besides, there may still be many other medicinal species collected locally but no specific statistics.
Today, finding highly active biologically active ingredients for medicine is a very interesting trend for scientists. Many medicinal herbs have been used to extract active ingredients such as berberine from Coscinium fenestratum, Shophora japonica, morphine from poppy (Papaver somniferum), beta-carotene Lycopene from gac (Mormodica cochichinensis), Strychnos nux-vomica (Strychnos nux-vomica), Papaya from papaya (Carica papaya), Dioscorea deltoidea, Curcumin from Curcuma longa, Mint (Metha arvesis) … In which, many important active ingredients such as quinine, morphin, strychnin … must be extracted from medicinal materials that can not go by chemical synthesis.
Medication also paved the way for the development of pharmacy. For example, based on the chemical structure of ephedrine – the active ingredient extracted from ephedra, it is possible to build the synthetic process so that ephedrine is synthesized chemically with less cost and time. Or from the structure of quinine in nail artemisinin in yellow flowers, they also synthesize many other types of malaria drugs have stronger effect. However, the number of medicinal plants used to extract active ingredients in Vietnam is modest (only about 50 species).
From the above, the number of medicinal plants used to serve the community as well as to isolate substances is very limited compared to the total number of medicinal plants have been discovered. With abundant medicinal resources, together with experience capital of the community, Vietnamese people are great potential to study, extract active ingredients and create new medicines from medicinal materials. High healing effect.
As a result, the State is making more efforts to bring into full play the strength of pharmaceuticals, boosting the pharmaceutical industry to become a spearhead economic sector, contributing to economic development and poverty reduction in many regions. rural and mountainous, while protecting the environment and ensuring social security, creating a picture of Vietnam – a powerful, healthy, rich country.