Medicinal Bath Herbs and Essential Oils in Sapa
Medicinal bath herbs have been used by many ethnic groups in Viet Nam, medical however Dao people know more about location, prescription, and sustainable harvest for long- term use for a diverse range of medicinal herbs.
Some herbs are used fresh, while others are dried for extended use. The traditional preparation of the medicinal bath requires putting a bundle of herbs in a large pot with boiled water, and adding this into a barrel with more water at lower temperature where the person can sit for about 15 to 30 minutes. These baths are used to treat aching muscles, joints, flu, itching, constipation, and other conditions. Since 2007, a local company and one cooperative have been manufacturing medicinal herbal oils based on traditional knowledge of the Red Dao and these products are sold to reach other customers outside the region.
The value chain for medicinal herbs and oils in Sa Pa national park includes the harvest and processing of the herbs. In the case of the oil, the heat and distillation are also part of the process, followed by preservation and packaging. The distribution is done by different companies in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, and retail agents in Sa Pa, Lao Cai, and Da Nang, as well as bath services units directly in Sa Pa or Hanoi. The users vary from hospital patients to postpartum women and tourists or locals in the region or the big cities.
There are about 1000 estimated households in the communes of Sa Pa district that harvest, process, and sell medicinal herbs for manufacturing baths and oils. Along with about 60 bath service units in the region, the increase in income for the locals associated with this value chain is very significant and relies in opportunities such as the increasing demand for health improvement and care treatments, and the Cable Car project which will bring more tourists to the Sa Pa district.
The BBP project aims to implement upgrading strategies for these products in the Sa Pa National Park region, including the replication and development of the area of medicinal herbs in a sustainable way, enhancement of the management capacity of the local companies and cooperatives, and the design of a system of product distribution throughout the country in order to promote the products professionally.