U – Medical: Elevating the status of local herbal medicines in I-san at UBU
(I-san is a local dialect which refers to the Northeastern region of Thailand.)
In November 2008, I presented a special interview with Dr. Krisana Kraisintu, the Gypsy Medicine Maker who happily returned a favour to the University of Ubon Rajathanee at http://www.oknation.net/blog/thaithai/2008/11/25/entry-2 Not long after that, I received an email from Dr. Krisana that her projects at UBU have taken off and the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at UBU has started the production of Thai herbal medicines.
I was once again marveled by the accomplishment and the speed of this remarkable lady. I was surprised..well, you could say …shocked.. and speechless of what to say next. It couldn’t be easy to produce herbal medicines in a few months. Did our ANGEL have a magic wand??? I couldn’t wait to find the answers to my curiosity so I wrote an email to request a meeting with Dr. Krisana while simultaneously prayed that she would agree to meet me sooner than later. I was extremely curious and excited to learn how her projects turned out and what exactly she has achieved. Any herbal medicines that would benefit my health and those of my compatriots?
I was honoured to meet her again on 1 March 2009. Our conservation was lively and very friendly indeed.
Kibangkok: A-jarn krub, (JOKE) Have your projects compensated for the debt you owed to UBU? How successful are they so far?
Dr. Krisana: Laugh….Goodness, how you call my projects! The projects have been launched and have made a very satisfying progress. The Dean, lecturers and students at Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences are very courteous. They gave me a very warm welcome as well as did their utmost to cooperate and facilitate the projects. I am very appreciative of their cooperation. (Dr. Krisina was speaking with so much warmth and happiness on her face and in her voice…Nevertheless, I quickly caught a glimpse of steel in her eyes… Did I imagine it? ….I have a feeling that this lady must be a lioness in her work… She must have a lot of stamina and tenacity to overcome all the challenges, to fight against all odds and achieve the seemingly impossible tasks. Well….a light-hearted joke also came to my mind….If she is not MAMA TOUGH, it wouldn’t be possible to steer the Africans toward serious work of manufacturing the AIDS medicines….would it?!
Kibangkok: A-jarn krub, what are your objectives in volunteering to establish an analytical unit and a factory for herbal medicines?
Dr. Krisana: As I previously mentioned to you, I care for the future of pharmacy students. It is difficult for them to do their internship in a real pharmaceutical factory. Most drug factories do not want to waste their time training students. I got my inspiration from this realization that if I could help to set up a factory in UBU and a unit for the analysis of herbs, they will have an opportunity to be trained and they could gain insights into the real world of pharmaceutical industry. Furthermore, I want to elevate the status of herbal medicines, to show to Thai people and foreigners that traditional herbal medicines could be made into modern forms with the highest pharmaceutical standards and quality. Traditional herbal medicine is our cultural heritage whose knowledge should be transferred from generation to generation and made known as widely as possible. In addition, I want to help increasing income for the farmers.
Kibangkok: To what extent can these pilot scaled projects improve the lives of the farmers and expand the opportunity for pharmacy students?
Dr. Krisana: The two projects have just started. At this moment, they are still small but I believe they will grow and expand more and more eventually. We do not aim to make a lot of profits or set any commercial targets. We carry out these projects for the benefits of the students and the locals. More importantly, we did not use a lot of capital to start up the projects. In other words, the investment is small but effective. As time goes by, the projects will gain more and more support as people will see more benefits. I did not set out to achieve a big dream. I am content to achieve small results step by step in a concrete matter. I consider that my hopes and dreams have already been fulfilled. Both projects have been very well received. Can you imagine, the factory, though now functions at full capacity, cannot keep up with the rising demands for herbal medicinal products from hospitals and the locals in the province and the surrounding areas?
Kibangkok: Why doesn’t UBU request financial assistance from the Thai government/authority to invest in these two projects? It would help to accelerate the implementation of the projects.
Dr. Krisana: The management team of UBU and I considered that prospect prior to embarking on the projects. However, we came to a conclusion that it would take a long time to go through the bureaucratic process to get the government’s grant. At least for now, UBU can use its budget (only small amount) to contribute to the projects. Moreover, the factory can generate enough revenue to pay for its expenses. We are simultaneously discussing areas of cooperation between UBU and Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) in China. HIT is a respectable institution and its professors and personnel actively engage in research and development as well as participating in international network of academic exchange, i.e. seminars, conferences, and workshops. HIT is particularly responsive to any project that involves contribution to improve people’s life and well-being in society. I will have good news about HIT and UBU to tell you in the near future. Please wait and be patient.
Kibangkok: I’ve not heard of HIT before. Is the University well-known? Does it have a good reputation? Can it rival the leading universities in Thailand?
Dr. Krisana: It will take a lot more conversations to explain the great reputation of HIT. Harbin Institute of Technology is one the top ten universities of China. Mind you China has hundreds of universities. HIT is famous in its sciences and cutting-edge technology. (http://www.hit.edu.cn/) Many important researches originated from this university, for examples, aviation technology and space aircraft. I’ve recently heard that the researchers of HIT are now conducting experiments on the species of rice that astronauts could bring to grow on the moon. Would you like to travel to the moon and grow rice there?
Kibangkok: A-jarn krub, please tell me about the Thai herbal medicines that UBU is producing and marketing?
Dr. Krisana: Of course. I’ve brought the four products to show you. We name them “U-Medical: lotus and the legend of Thai herbal medicines.” U-Medical is the name of the factory and the trademark of the four products. U stands for University so U-Medical is the medicine produced by the University.
Kibangkok: I’ve noticed on the labels of each of the four products that the names are unique and sound ancient. Don’t you think they sound out of date?
Dr. Krisana: I don’t think so. These four products take the names from ancient traditional medicines of the Royal Court. Their names have special meanings. They represent our cultural heritage. I put the lotus as the logo of our products because lotus is the symbol of Ubon Rajathanee province. In this way, we elevate the status of herbal medicines that are produced locally using local herbal raw materials. My production team consists of the students, the young people. They’ve told me that the packaging of the herbal products looks very trendy.
Kibangkok: What are the four products and what health benefits do they entail?
Dr. Krisana: The four regimens are “Ya Hom Thepajit” for improving blood circulation, “Ya Lueng Pid Samut” for curing intestinal disorders, “Ya Chan Leela” for getting rid of fever, and “Ya Prasaplai”, a traditional medicine for women. (“Ya” means medicine in Thai.) I picked four of the herbal regimens from the list of essential national drugs for production.
Kibangkok: Where are the four products displayed and sold?
Dr. Krisana: They are currently sold at UBU. Soon, they will be sold in local hospitals. I dream that one day in the future, these products will be marketed overseas.
Kibangkok: When are you going to unveil the four products officially?
Dr. Krisana: I don’t know the exact date. A few days ago, the journalists from leading Thai newspapers and TV crews from the main Thai channels came to interview me and made videos about the four herbal products. They told me that it would be on air soon. Have you seen it?
Kibangkok: I’ve yet to see it. Perhaps it will be on air soon. May I have a closer look at the bottles of the herbal medicines. Could you tell me about the production process?
Dr. Krisana: The production process is carried out with high safety standards. We use Gamma radiation to free the raw materials from microbial contamination. We also seal the top part of the bottle securely with foil paper. I would not like to say more. It may sound like advertising. It is illegal to advertise the quality of medicines. If you would like to know more details, you could contact the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, UBU, telephone number: 045 – 353 – 612 or contact Miss Jitradee, the pharmacist and coordinator of the department, telephone number: 045 – 353 – 618
Kibangkok: A-jarn krub, I would like to buy some of the products. Are they expensive?
Dr. Krisana: I bring this collection of the 4 products for you and your parents. I do not have the heart and the marketing skills to sell goods. I prefer to give them away. In terms of the price, you have to enquire from UBU. As far as I know, the popcorns outside the cinema cost more than the herbal products at UBU.
Kibangkok: It seems that these two projects will not make a lot of profits. Are they worth the sweat and all your efforts?
Dr. Krisana: My dear, I have the teacher’s spirit and pride. They bring me happiness which cannot be exchanged for money. These feelings will not disappear with time. They stay with me and with the people who dedicate their time and efforts for these projects to materialize and succeed.
Before we parted, Dr. Krisana gave me a collection of 4 herbal products made at UBU for my parents. The bottles are very beautiful and classy. I am proud that these products are made in Thailand.
Kibangkok: Thank you very much A-jarn. I hope that I will meet you again soon. All my best wishes to the pharmacy students at UBU. They now have a training place for internship at the real pharmaceutical factory. The dream of our Gypsy medicine maker has come true.
This article was translated from Thai language to English language by the Dr.Krisana fan club.
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This article was firstly published in Thai Language