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Lao traditional medicine institute appeals for more Covid research funding

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A woman gets the coronavirus vaccine at Lao's Luang Namtha province. VIENTIANE TIMES FACEBOOK

Lao traditional medicine institute appeals for more Covid research funding

The Institute of Traditional Medicine, supervised by the Lao Ministry of Health, is submitting proposals to request additional government funding to support studies on the use of plant extracts to treat Covid patients.

The institute’s trials involves three plants, namely heartleaf or Houttuynia cordata (phak khao thong), green chiretta or Andrographis paniculata (la xa bee), and fingerroot or Boesenbergia rotunda (ka xai khao).

Institute of Traditional Medicine director-general Dr Bounleuane Douangdeuan told Vientiane Times: “We welcome any kind of support from interested sponsors to help our research. We would like to encourage as many people as possible to donate to this cause.”

Without more funding, the institute may not be able to make use of traditional medicine in the treatment of Covid patients because its budget for use in the research and production of medicines is limited, Dr Bounleuane said.

The Institute of Traditional Medicine owns land on which to grow plants used in traditional medicine and for use in the research, testing and certification of plants for medicinal use.

An important focus of the institute’s research is the cataloguing of indigenous species that can be used in the treatment of Covid-19 and the publishing of research results to serve as a reference for use by contemporary healers and the wider public.

The provision of additional funds will enable the institute to carry out more studies, analysis and quality assurance certification of plant extracts for medicinal purposes.

These substances are not on sale to the general public because they are only available for the treatment of people in the early stages of Covid-19.

Trials showed that patients’ condition improved within three days of treatment, Dr Bounleuane said.

Green chiretta is used to ease the initial symptoms of Covid-19 such as sore throat and inflammation. Modern studies have also focused on the benefits of the herbaceous plant for respiratory and digestive conditions.

The government’s policy is to encourage the integration of modern and traditional forms of medicine in primary healthcare facilities for the treatment of Covid-19 in local communities.

The overall goal is to broaden knowledge and capacity in the treatment of the virus using traditional medicine, an official from the institute said.

The initiative is an extension of the health sector development plan for 2016-2020 on the promotion, use and preservation of natural medicinal resources.

Most ASEAN countries have seen success in the use of plant extracts to treat the early stages of Covid-19, including Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar, which have centres for the study of traditional medicine.



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