Viet Nam possesses an old system of traditional medicine. Medicinal plants have made a tremendous contribution to the national health, and the Vietnamese people, especially in the countryside and the mountains, have used locally available medicinal plants for medical treatment and certain vegetables and spices as food to protect their health. The government has adopted a policy of integrating modern and traditional systems of medicine and pharmacy. To implement this policy of integration, scientific research on medicinal plants plays an important role .
Market Importance of Herbal Medicines
The percentage of herbal medicines prescribed in medical treatment is still increasing. Several places have already succeeded in using 100% plant-based drugs which reduces the burden of the State's subsidy on medicines. Thousands of communes have achieved a certain percentage of herbal drugs to be used in treatment, as set by the Ministry of Health. The successful combination of modern and traditional medicine has given impetus to the gradual modernization of herbal medicine to facilitate handling and promote exports. Medicines are produced from plant extracts and purified products, and they are exported as finished or semi- finished products. All medicines prepared from medicinal plants can be used in Viet Nam as substitutes for Western drugs and Chinese herbs which, in former times, have been more important .
To ensure the quality and therapeutic efficacy of herbal drugs, the Viet Nam Pharmacopoeia, with national standards for 215 plants commonly used in traditional medical practice and 27 indigenous medicines prepared from medicinal plants, has been published by the Viet Nam Committee for the Pharmacopoeia. The monographs on medicinal plants, in addition to protocols for quality control, testing methods and storage, also include regulations on processing and formulation methods, properties, therapeutic efficacy, use, dosage and contra-indications .
An inventory has been made of the most important medicinal plants, so as to be able to exploit them rationally and use them properly. The results published so far give information on the remarkable progress that has been made during the past 25 years. From plants commonly used in folk medicine, 1 863 species of 238 plant families have been found. Most of them are wild species, and numerous plants are specific to particular regions and areas of the country .