|Long tradition: Đinh Công Bảy was born in the former imperial capital city of Huế to a family with a long tradition of herbal medicine. Photo tapchiyhoccotruyen.org|
For the last 25 years, Đinh Công Bảy has offered free health check-ups and treatment in pagodas. His patients are mostly poor people suffering from chronic or
incurable diseases. On top of his free clinics, Bảy finds the time to write books on healthy eating and traditional medicine. Trần Nguyễn Anh reports.
Đinh Công Bảy, secretary general of HCM City’s Herbal Medicine Association, was born in the former imperial capital city of Huế to a family with a long tradition of practising herbal medicine. In 1970s, when Western medicine was favoured, Bảy decided to choose it for his pre-university course. He eventually pursued Herbal Medicine when he entered university.
Bảy said it was philosophy that led him to the decision.
“I had been very keen on studying philosophy, especially Eastern philosophy," he said. "I discovered that herbal medicine had its roots in traditional philosophy principles, such as yin and yang. I studied traditional philosophy to understand diseases and vice versa.”
Later, due to the war, he moved from Huế to Sài Gòn (now HCM City) to continue his studies and travelled to the Central Highlands to settle. In 1975 when the nation was reunified, medicine courses were resumed in Sài Gòn.
“I had a stable life in the highlands area, but my passion led me to sell my house and pharmacy and take my wife and children to HCM City to study," Bảy said. After finishing the course, he was invited to teach at the Traditional Medicine Faculty of HCM City’s Medicine University and worked there for 15 years.
Bảy has a unique personality. He has his own philosophy of life and sticks to it. Those with wide knowledge and experience like him often open pharmacies and many became rich.
Bảy, however, is different. For the last 25 years, he has offered free health check-ups and treatment in pagodas. “People can have their own way of living as long as their work contributes something to the community,” he said.
His patients are mostly the poor with chronic diseases and those with incurable diseases. They came to pagodas with a tiny hope for a miracle. Bảy said it was these patients that brought him a positive perspective and firm belief to move forward regardless of circumstances.
“Many asked me what I had got after years of offering free service. It seems I get nothing, but it’s actually many things. For example, I don’t treat people for money so I have peace of mind. I have treated many people and that brought me joy. I have a chance to do the job that I love,” said Bảy.
“I seem to be different from other people. While others may try hard to afford a motorbike, car and house, I find ways to cycle more,” said Bảy.
“The popular diseases today, such as cardiovascular disease, haemorrhoids and gout are mostly due to the fact that people spend most of the time working in an office without doing physical exercise. Many nutrients are absorbed and few are transformed into energy; therefore, they create disease.”
|Pedal power: People can meditate in any place by paying attention to breathing, says Bảy. Photos courtesy of Trần Nguyên Anh|
Bảy said big cities like HCM should encourage its citizens to cycle. “We should also learn from other countries and implement public project in which bicycles are made available for shared use or rent," he said. "There should also be streets reserved for bikes only. There should be favoured conditions for cyclists.
“I pay much attention to exercise. I cycle five to seven kilometres every day. I often cycle leisurely in spacious streets to exercise and clear my mind. Once the body and spirit are healthy, we never have to worry about diseases.
"One can meditate in any place. When one pays attention to their breathing and has proper breathing, it’s meditation," said Bảy.
Cycling and breathing fresh air is also a method of meditation that Bảy uses.
Bảy has written more than 30 books on traditional medicine. He also has had thousands of papers published in health columns of different magazines and newspapers.
He also writes about healthy food and offers daily tips for a healthy life. This includes “Healthy Food and Drink for Gastritis and Duodenitis”, “Healthy Food for Those with Kidney Disease”, and “Stay Healthy and Beautiful with Popular Vegetarian Dishes”.
“We should pay attention not only to food, but the way we eat. Food can be also served as valuable medicine, helping diners build up their immunity and prevent diseases like osteoporosis, fat excess and stress,” Bảy said.
“Food that is good for the health and helps to prevents diseases is mentioned in classic herbalism books. Compiling healthy food that is good for specific disease is my hobby,” he added.
In his “Healthy Food for Osteoporosis Patients”, Bảy introduces recipes for those with osteoporosis. They include clam porridge with coconut milk, crab broth, snails stir-fried with coconut, mussels stir-fried with gourd leaves. VNS