Date: Wed,  7 Jan 1998 15:41:49 EST
To: Multiple recipients of list <>
Subject: Re:  Heantos Article

In a message, Date:  Wed, Jan 07, 1998 15:45 EDT, (Chris Jenks) writes of the discoverer of a treatment
for opiate addiction in Vietnam:

Chris and list,

My understanding is that Dan's operations have been closed by the Vietnamese
government and a new company, probably with government financing and
participation have been set up in its place.  Dan has been forbidden to
involve himself in further production or at least in matters relating to
foreign exportation and collaboration.  This is very much the position I find
myself in with the University of Miami and Deborah Mash.


  Dear Everyone,

  The following article appeared on page 70 of Time Magazine. Sorry, I
don't know the date.

  Physician, Hook Thyself
  A Vietnamese medicine man gets addicted to drugs in an attempt to find an
all-natural cure for addicts

  by Tim Larimer, Hanoi

  Tran Khuong Dan, a Hanoi construction foreman, moved to Saigon shortly
after the Vietnamese War ended in 1975. There, after 21 years of
separation, he found his elder brother, a highly acclaimed herbal medicine
man. Dan was stunned by the sight: gaunt and pale, his brother betrayed a
condition that Dan had come to know all too well. He was addicted to opium.
  "All around me," says Dan, "there were drug addicts." The former South
Vietnam capital's population of soldiers, prostitutes and refugees from
opium dens and heroin shooting galleries was a particularly painful scene
for Dan. His father, an opium addict for more than two decades, died in
1976. Dan's brother died a year later. Both had been practitioners of
traditional medicine, meting out herbal remedies to thousands of patients
over the years. "But one question came to mind when my brother died," says
Dan. "Why didn't they find a medicine to cure themselves?"
  Steeping himself in the knowledge passed down from his father and
brother, Dan built a thriving herbal medicine practice in Saigon, renamed
Ho Chi Minh City by the victorious communists. He sold concoctions to treat
everything from rheumatism to pre-menstrual cramps, sun stroke to
impotence. After accumulating about $75,000 in savings, Dan set out to find
a cure for the addiction that killed his father and brother. For three
years, he moved around the country, smoking opium with village chieftains
in an attempt to get close enough to them to gain their trust and learn
their secret, home-made remedies for addiction. He collected more than 100
recipes involving herbs and plants that villagers used as makeshift
substitutes when their poppy crops failed and their opium supplies
  Then, in a remarkable effort to unlock the mystery of dependence, Dan
intentionally addicted himself to opium. "I knew from my brother how
dangerous this could be," he says. "But I decided this was the only way."
He returned home with a collection of home remedies and began experimenting
with them, boiling pots of water and herbs in his kitchen. He tried one
combination after another, going cold turkey while seeking a remedy. His
withdrawal symptoms were "like torture," he recalls, and time after time he
went back to his opium pipe for relief. "Sometimes I couldn't stand it. It
felt like a million maggots were crawling inside my legs." After six months
of self-experimentation, Dan says he finally found a concoction that
enabled him to kick his habit. To test it further, he allowed himself to
become addicted to heroin - and found his brew cured him of that as well.
  It was a muddy-brown syrup made from the leaves, roots and stems of 13
plants and a splash of alcohol. For commercial reasons, Dan is reluctant to
talk publicly about the recipe, saying only that cinnamon bark and ginger
are among the ingredients. It was named Heantos, after the Greek word for
plants. After he announced his breakthrough in a government-owned newspaper
in 1989, he was besieged by addicts. Since then, he says, more than 4,000
patients have been treated, and most of them have been cured.
  Evidence of the medicine's effectiveness is largely anecdotal. Dan has
not followed up on his patients to find out if they remain drug-free, nor
have there been scientific studies of possible side-effects. Researchers
are, however, encouraged by a Vietnamese study of 107 patients who had
become addicted to the pain-killer morphine in the course of their
treatment. After being given Heantos, 72 stopped requesting their morphine
doses. Dan and colleagues at Vietnam's Institute of Chemistry in Hanoi,
where he now lives, say a modified, tablet form of the medicine prevents
former addicts from returning to drug use. This follow-up medicine, Heantos
1, is said to have a deliberately negative side-effect: should a patient
slip back into drug use, he will suffer painful, convulsive fits.
  Heantos is now regularly administered to addicts at clinics in Vietnam.
An hour before expecting to crave a hit of opium or heroin, patients are
given a cup of the Heantos liquid. Doses are then administered several
times a day. The syrup, which has an earthy flavor and a smoky aftertaste,
quickly makes patients fall asleep. After three or four days, they are
discharged - and in most cases, say clinic directors, cured. "I used all
kinds of drugs," says a 34-year-old man named Thai, recovering in a Hanoi
clinic. "Heroin, opium, everything. For six or seven years. I tried to quit
five or six times. My friends say this works."
  Heantos has drawn the attention of researchers outside Vietnam. The
United Nations Development Program has said it will spend $400,000 to test
the substance under the guidance of Johns Hopkins University School of
Medicine and the National Institute of Drug Abuse. The brew will be
analyzed at U. S. labs, and patients using it in Vietnam will be closely
monitored. "Expectations are high," says Dr. Lutx Baehr, the U. N.'s
international project coordinator. "This could help close the gap between
Eastern herbal medicine on one side and the Western pharmacological
approach on the other."
  Dan, now 55, believes the medicine restores an imbalance of yin and yang
that is a fundamental concept in Eastern medicine. Dan shows a Confucian
respect for his teachers, giving credit to his father and to the village
medicine men he consulted. "We have used traditional medicine based on
plants for a thousand years," he says. "I am just basing my research on
this tradition."