Thai traditional medicine had its golden age in late 19th and early 20th century during the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V). At the time, Thailand was on the cusp of modernization due to strong efforts of both Rama V and his father before him to conscientiously develop the nation. Among the many projects of Rama V, improvement in access to and dissemination of medicine was one of them. This period saw a spread and boom in Thai traditional medicine as the powers that be distributed both product and recipes to corners of the country. Yahom, or traditional herbal powder, became a household item and used to treat various ailments. In Bangkok, traditional doctor Waan Rodmuang founder of his pharmacy Baan Mowaan in Rattanakosin Island became a key figure with much demand for his services.
In 1923, the government implemented the Medical Profession Act in an effort to regulate all medical practitioners and raise standards in the medical field. This required all Thai traditional medicine practitioners to register. Those who registered still received government support while those who did not were rendered unofficial. This combined with the arrival and acceptance of Western medicine began the decline of Thai traditional medicine and its use.
Waan was not deterred. He continued advocating Thai traditional medicine in spite of the decline. He had set up his pharmacy in 1920, known as Bamrungchat Satsana Yathai or Baan Mowaan. The doctor practiced in his beautiful colonial styled building and passed on his knowledge to his descendants. Today, fourth-generation heir of the pharmacy Pasinee Yanothai faithfully keeps her family’s legacy alive. Baan Mowaan is now both a museum and a store, selling updated yahom and other products that have gone through innovative reincarnations to match the demand of today’s clientele. The store is now truly a bastion for Thai traditional medicine knowledge and culture. Visit to take in the breathtaking architecture of the building, the wondrous array of traditional medicine, and the historical aspect of medical practice from a different era.