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Professor responsible for discovering medicinal herb in Vietnam

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Few Vietnamese know about the man who discovered a precious medicinal herb – giao co lam (Gynostemma pentaphyllum): Pham Thanh Ky, rector of the Hanoi Pharmacy University. 

Prof  Pham Thanh Ky (right)


At the age of 79, Professor Ky still looks healthy with ruddy skin. Showing a bag of giao co lam tea to reporters, he said: “It might be because I have been drinking this for the last 10 years. Giao co lam has very good anti-aging effect.”

In 1996, when Ky was on a business trip to China, he was introduced to a plant which helps improve health, beauty and longevity. He decided to buy it, hoping that the plant might be grown in Vietnam.

Later, he met Nguyen Van Nhan, deputy director of the Cao Bang provincial science department and asked if Nhan could help find a similar herb in the province. 

“Some days later, Nhan said that local people picked ‘dan toong’ plants to sell to Chinese. I asked him to send to me the samples of all the plants sold to Chinese. And when I looked at the dry samples, I found it similar to the plant I wanted,” Ky recalled.

Ky then decided to make a long trip to Cao Bang and the Phanxipang primitive forest in Lao Cai, where he and his co-workers found giao co lam plants at the height of 2,000 meters.

The scientists kept watch over the development of the plants until they flowered and bore fruit, then referred to documents before affirming that this was giao co lam.

Ky spent 10 years to conduct research  before officially publishing articles on giao co lam. 

At first, he studied to find out where the plant can live and discovered that the plant appears in areas with cool climate and soil like Phanxipang. Later, the group headed by Ky discovered giao co lam in Hoa Binh and Cao Bang as well.

After that, the scientists analysed the pharmaceutical and chemical ingredients of giao co lam and shared the published information.

The discovery by Professor Ky about giao co lam has enriched Vietnam's herbal treasures and medical treatments.

Ky said that people need to pick only the leaves, and cut the trunk of the vine into 2-3 sections and leave the root. “By doing so, the material sources will not be exhausted,” he said.


Source: Kham Pha - VietNamNet

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