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Exposed! Pandemic Unlocks Thailand’s Hidden Treasure: Miracle Herbs or Medical Mirage? Discover the Shocking Surge of Traditional Medicine!

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In the shadow of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the prevalence of Thai Traditional Medicine (TTM) has grown, weaving itself evermore into the fabric of Thai culture. TTM, offering an array of alternative treatments using diverse local herbs, is beginning to take the main stage as an indispensable element of Thailand’s identity.

The 20th instalment of the National Herbs Expo, carried out under the supervision of Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health, took place from June 28 to July 2. The event attracted a barrage of experts, entrepreneurs, and enthusiasts eager to share knowledge and experiences concerning the versatility and efficacy of Thai traditional remedies. Common scepticism unusually took a backseat, overshadowed by an increased understanding and acceptance of TTM due to the pandemic.

In the days preceding the pandemic, traditional remedies were mostly viewed as food supplements or dietary aids, rather than serious medicinal substitutes. However, when the pandemic hit, and international borders were shuttered, a worrying shortage of modern medicines crept in, forcing a shift in public sentiment towards traditional and home-grown alternatives.

Dr. Pakakrong Kwankhao, the esteemed head of the Thai Traditional and Herbal Medicine Centre at Chao Phya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital, attests to this attitudinal change. He observed a discernible increase in younger demographics turning to herbal medicine, drawn in by the alleged promises of traditional herbs in preventing and treating Covid-19.

Adisorn Pukanad, a commendable figure at the Thai Traditional Medicine Foundation, asserts TTM’s easy accessibility – it doesn’t require a doctor’s prescription or even a hospital visit. While its medicinal potency might not be as high as contemporary remedies, the ease of consumption in the form of capsules and its arguably milder effects on the body make it a compelling choice for the health-conscious.

Herbal One, a company specialising in natural medicinal products, reports an emergent trend in consumers aged 30 and above acknowledging and investing in herbal capsules. These capsules are celebrated for their affordability, convenience, and relatively benign side-effects.

Following suit, Thai traditional massage therapy also integrates locally-sourced herbal mixtures into their practice. These are steamed and rolled into herbal compress balls, which, when used for massaging, are believed to heighten blood circulation while providing a sense of therapeutic relief.

Yet, the exponential growth of TTM users hasn’t come without a share of doubts and scepticism primarily rooted in a dearth of scientific evidence to back up some of the traditional remedy claims.

In the past, herbal doctors were the minority, comprising only about 2-3% of all medical professionals. These traditional remedies were often dismissed as irrelevant and unserious garden produce, with modern medical education primarily western-centric.

However, the tide appears to be changing. At Chaophraya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital, an ambitious group of professionals are working tirelessly to prove the therapeutic efficacy of herbs traditionally deployed to cure diseases. Incorporation by local hospitals and firms of indigenous cultivation initiatives for increased herbal production mirrors this changing narrative. Thus, in aligning ancient tradition with modern science, TTM is gradually carving out a reputable place within the contemporary healthcare system.

Going forward, Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health seeks to preserve and amplify the role of traditional Thai healing practices in the medical world. It is undoubtedly committed to merging indigenous wisdom with modern healthcare knowledge, aspiring to put Thai traditional and herbal medicine in the limelight it deserves.

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