National Institute of Traditional Medicine

National Institute of Traditional Medicine information

Thimphu , Bhutan
Address
Street Serzhong Lam
Telephone
+975 2 324647
Prices
admission Nu 100
Opening hours
9am-3pm Mon-Fri, 9am-1pm Sat
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Lonely Planet review

Established in 1978, this interesting government facility researches, prepares and dispenses traditional herbal and other medicines. The small museum details ingredients that range from herbs and minerals to animal parts, precious metals and gems. The institute collects medicinal plants from remote corners of the Bhutanese Himalaya such as Lingzhi, Laya and Lunana and then distributes pills, tablets, ointments and medicinal teas to regional health-care units around the country.

Of particular interest is yartsa goenbub (cordyceps), the high-altitude cure-all 'Himalayan Viagra' that is actually a caterpillar that has been mummified by a fungus. The curious 'worm-root' sells for up to US$25,000 per kilogram in China.

If you're feeling under the weather, the on-site clinic will tell you if your wind, bile and phlegm are in balance and prescribe appropriate medicines or treatments, all free of charge. Lasgang root is said to do wonders for a sore throat; we're not quite sure about the elephant's gallstone.