Date: Thu, 27 Nov 1997 16:13:03 EST
From: (SCN User)
To: Multiple recipients of list <>
Subject: N.J. Man Says Herbal Mix Allowed Him To Kick Heroin [fwd]

] Date: Mon, 24 Nov 1997 18:18:03 -0500

Source: Bergen Record
Pubdate: Mon, 24 Nov 1997
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By Bob Groves, Staff Writer

For 2 1/2 days, Luis, a North Jersey businessman with a four-year,
$100-a-day heroin habit, lay flat on his back, asleep in an old hotel room
in Hanoi, waking only to swallow capsules of Heantos, a Vietnamese herbal
treatment touted as a quick cure for drug addiction.

After each dose, Luis fell back into a dead slumber. With him at all times
was a Vietnamese doctor and Thomas Dodd, a former heroin addict and drug
counselor from Paterson.

On the fourth day of his detoxification using Heantos last month, Luis, 35,
felt well enough to leave his Hanoi hotel bed and go for a walk. The next
day his urine showed no traces of heroin, and he and Dodd boarded a plane
for New Jersey, the two men recalled Friday at Dodd's home in Elmwood Park.

Aside from vomiting up the Heantos pills the first couple of times, and a
bout with diarrhea, Luis said he experienced none of the wracking pain,
sweats, chills, and nausea normally associated with kicking heroin "cold
turkey," or with drug substitutes such as methadone. He was back to work
within two days, he said.

Back home last week, Luis ended several weeks of follow-up treatment with
much lower doses of Heantos, and no longer feels the craving for heroin, or
even for stimulants such as caffeine.

"I used to drink coffee every day, smoke cigars, and drink soda," Luis, who
requested anonymity, said Friday. "Now I don't touch it that much. I don't
even like to smell cigarette smoke."

Heantos, which means "heat of the sun," is a concoction of 13 plants and
herbs. It was created in the 1980s by Dr. Tran Khuong Dan, a Vietnamese
physician whose father and brother were addicted to opiates and who became
an addict himself in order to experiment and find an herbal cure, according
to published reports.

A two-year study of Heantos, which is not available in the United States,
in Vietnam found that 95 percent of more than 300 heroin addicts treated
with the mixture remained drug-free, news accounts have said.

The United Nations subsequently announced it would spend $400,000 on
clinical trials, and has asked the Johns Hopkins University School of
Medicine to participate in the research.

After reading about Heantos in news accounts last summer, Luis and Dodd
traveled to Hanoi in October, where Luis took the cure through arrangements
made by Lutz Baehr of New York, coordinator of the U.N. Heantos project.

Luis may be the first American to undergo the treatment, though "a few
thousand" addicts in Vietnam and from other countries, have taken Heantos,
Baehr said Friday from New York.

Baehr said a contract with Johns Hopkins is still being negotiated. Dr.
Donald R. Jasinski, director of the university's Center for Chemical
Dependence, said in a statement issued in October that "it is inappropriate
to discuss proposed studies until the parties involved reach a formal

The air fare to Hanoi was $1,000 round trip, but the treatment, and
follow-up pills, cost a total of $30, Dodd said.

Dodd, who kicked his own heroin habit 18 years ago with methadone, said he
would not have believed it if he hadn't seen it himself.

"This is a miracle. Heantos is such a phenomenon. This is for real. It's
not a scam," Dodd, 46, said Friday. Dodd is a counselor with Straight and
Narrow Inc., and heads its methadone clinic based at Bergen Pines County
Hospital in Paramus.

The lack of side effects is what "makes Heantos so important, so valuable.
Even when you're using methadone or other methods of detoxification, you
still experience withdrawal," he said.

Ordinarily, Heantos is taken as a thick, brown, fiery syrup. Luis refused
to drink it, and opted for handfuls of capsules instead. Even with pills,
"I could smell it come out of my hair, my armpits, in my urine. It smelled
like herbs," Luis said. But it was worth it.

Luis said friends talked him into trying heroin.

At first, "the feeling is unbelievable, like being in a state of dream
The next thing you know, you've got that gorilla [of addiction] on
your back. Once you're sick, you can't sleep. There's pain in your stomach.

"I was using four times a day just to function. I was trapped inside my
body for four years, but there was no way out," said Luis, who looked
tanned and fit.

He was so moved by the care he received from his Vietnamese attendants --
from doctors to chambermaids -- and so relieved by his treatment, "I left
there crying," he said.

Luis "looks like a much different person than when I saw him in Vietnam,"
Baehr of the United Nations said Friday. "I am happy he was able to
overcome heroin with Heantos," he said. "There's an indication it has
potential. But to draw conclusions now, I think, is a little premature.

"Only if this repeats itself in significant numbers can you really say this
is a real cure," Baehr said.

Copyright   1997 Bergen Record Corp.