Medication

Most Vietnamese will seek medical treatment from physicians who practice Thuốc Đong Y before they will even turn to physicians who practice Western medicine. Some do so because they are more familiar with oriental practices and may have been disappointed or frustrated with the outcomes of Western medicine.

Older Vietnamese may also combine oriental medical treatment with Western medical treatment without disclosing this combination to either practitioner. It is necessary for clinicians to be aware that Vietnamese may interpret medication side effects as evidence that the medications are causing the body to become “too hot” or “too cold.” This may lead to use of diet/herbal remedies as compensation, or to decreased compliance with prescribed medications. The beliefs that that Western medicine is “stronger, faster, and curative” while Eastern/folk medicine is “weaker, slower, but preventive” have major implications for adherence to medical regimens by older Vietnamese. Decreasing drug doses is a cultural response to their perceptions about these Western medications and to their being “too hot” or “too cold.” To the degree that this is systematically done by older Vietnamese, some medications may not be effective.