Home Culture The Vietnameses Traditional Vietnamese medicine

Traditional Vietnamese medicine

Horizon Vietnam Travel introduces you in this article to traditional Vietnamese medicine with methods such as Thuốc Nam, massage, cupping therapy, Gua Sha, etc! we offer you traditional Vietnamese medicine training!

If you have fallen ill, have a cold or have back pain,  what do you do? Are you going to take medication to feel better? come to Vietnam, you will discover how to treat yourself without resorting to medicines!

Traditional theories

Traditional Chinese medicine and that of Vietnam share the same theory: Yin–Yang and respect for the five elements. The balance of Yin and Yang between two opposing states (such as cold and heat), according to the principle of Eastern medicine, is important in the human body. Yin is the feminine principle: moon, darkness, cold, receptivity, etc. Yang represents the masculine principle: sun, brightness, warmth, action, etc. The other major theory is the five elements specifically named water, wood, fire, earth and metal. Water represents the Kidney, Wood represents the Liver, Fire is the symbol of the Heart, Earth means the Stomach and Metal represent Lung. It is assumed that the harmony of 5 elements (5 organs) and Yin-Yang contributes to the harmonious development of our body.

Thuốc Nam

thuoc nam traditional Vietnamese medicine

Thuốc Nam, also known as Southern Medicine is one of Vietnam’s traditional means of care. Its teaching must be based on Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian thoughts, but also on the sciences and the arts.

A difference between the traditional medicine of China and that of Vietnam is that the Vietnamese version is based on local ingredients. These ingredients are used fresh or dried to treat diseases. Everyday herbs, flowers and vegetables such as Vietnamese mint, lotus flower, water liseron, cinnamon, ginger or turmeric,… the Vietnamese have long since discovered hundreds of medical remedies without the help of medicines.

Many of them remain useful today, such as chewing betel to avoid tooth decay and eating ginger to protect against sore throat and flu. A bowl of sweet lotus grain soup is considered a natural solution to treat sleep disorders.

Traditional Vietnamese massage


One method to relax the body, traditional Vietnamese massage, has been around for centuries. While Thai massage emphasizes stretching techniques during the treatment, Vietnamese massage focuses on muscles and tendons by targeting specific pressure points to release tension and relax.

Vietnamese massage usually starts with the back, as it is the part of the body that retains more tension. Then the massage continues to other parts of the body up to the head. You can choose the massage of a body part such as feet, back, neck, legs, arms, etc., or you can opt for a full body massage.

Vietnamese body massage consists of the ancient massage technique, which aims to hit the treatment areas of the body. This massage technique promotes blood circulation and eliminates toxins from the body.

It is an excellent therapy to relieve pain. Vietnamese massage allows us to rejuvenate our body in a natural way and reduce the risk of blood clotting. Finally, it is a technique of traditional Vietnamese medicine very pleasant!

Cupping therapy (giác hơi)

giac hoi

Cupping therapy has its origins in China. Some people are afraid of this therapy after seeing pictures of the back of people with red spots. However, the practice is not as painful as it seems.

At first, the masseur moves a heated cup over your back to relax the muscle. Then the masseur heats the suction cups with a flame and places them on the waist up to the shoulders for about 5-10 minutes. When you put the suction cups, you see the skin going up inside the suction cup, and it becomes very red. Toxins are brought to the surface and evacuated via our lymphatic system.

Because this therapy leaves red marks on the body, it is difficult to find this service in modern spas. Only some traditional spas practising oriental medicine practice this technique. The therapeutic use of a suction cup should be carried out by professionals as it requires applying correct heat to your body. And it is not recommended for people who suffer from heart disease, skin lesions and pregnant women.

Healing ourselves with suction cups allows us to balance the yin and yang of the body. You will feel much better, lightened after treatment with cupping.

Gua Sha (cạo gió)

cao gio

At home, when we catch a cold snap, instead of going to the doctor, our mother or grandmother will help us treat the disease because almost all Vietnamese grandmothers and mothers know how to scratch the skin. The disease will be relieved with scratching. This is the principle of this therapy.

You need a little essential oil on the pain area, then scrape the skin up and down with a hard, smooth object such as a spoon or coin until the skin is red. It is better to resort to silver coins because silver helps to eliminate toxins. After that, you do not feel less pain, discomfort, chills or feeling of nausea.

To avoid drafts, it is necessary to scratch the skin in a closed room. After the scraping is complete, you need to keep the body warm and eat a bowl of boiled rice with chopped chives. This will help you feel better. The scratching method allows us to effectively reduce blood pressure, circulate blood and calm the nerves and the whole body.

Tai chi

tai chi

Tai Chi is a combination of Yin and Yang philosophy with Chinese martial arts movements and breathing techniques. It is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. Movements can be performed slowly and gently for relaxation, or faster and for fitness and self-defence.

Tai chi helps us improve digestion, breathing and blood circulation. As the movements are carried out in a relaxed way. It can also lead to a reduction in stress-related disorders.

By doing Tai chi, the body remains relaxed, and the consciousness, breathing and actions of the practitioner are closely linked. It is very beneficial for relaxation that allows you to wake up your body in the morning. This is a very convenient way to refresh your mind.

Vietnamese people are used to doing gymnastics in the morning. To learn more, please click on this link to see how Vietnamese people stay healthy with morning exercises!



Acupuncture, which dates back more than two thousand years in Asia, continues to have a positive impact on the lives of patients. Vietnam is considered one of the leading countries in the world when it comes to acupuncture treatment.

Acupuncture is a form of treatment that involves inserting very fine needles into specific energy points on the body. These needles help to relax the body and restore its balance. Best of all – needles don’t hurt when they get into the skin. This therapeutic art is really an effective technique to fight against stress.

It can be used to treat a whole list of health problems, including arthritis, addiction, migraines, pain, high blood pressure, and skin diseases. The treatment also has a significant impact on children, with diseases such as autism, asthma and cerebral palsy.

You will see several dozen needles can be planted in the patient’s body, but he will feel good.

Herbal bath

herbal baths

Being surrounded by fields and mountains, the Red Dao, a minority ethnic group in Sapa in Vietnam, took advantage of this advantage to find many herbal remedies. There is a remedy that allows people to soak in a bath based on medicinal plants, which will do good for the body and health.

What does a plant-based bath contain? Normally, the number of medicinal plants in a bath is usually very large, from 10 to 120 species. To have good effects on the skin, red Dao uses plants such as honeysuckle, cumin, and lime. The bath also contains plants such as Justicia, smilax glabra, juniper, and piper lolot that exert a good impact on bones and joints. You can add lemongrass, star anise, cinnamon, etc.

Normally, the herbs are thoroughly washed and boiled for 3 hours until the water turns red with a fragrant smell. Then the herbs are mixed with water at a temperature of about 35 ° C. The average time to take a herbal bath is 30 minutes.

If you want to take a herbal bath to relax, do not hesitate to come to Sapa!

Horizon Vietnam Travel hopes that this information provided will be useful to you and will allow you to better understand how to treat diseases without the help of medicines in Vietnam! If you have any further questions about traditional Vietnamese medicine, please do not hesitate to contact us.

See also: