Washington University in St. Louis ‘18
As a Global Affairs Intern at Jaseng, for the past few weeks my colleague, Amber, and I translated many documents relating to the function, purpose, and effect of many Jaseng herbs. However, we both knew very little about how herbal medicine was produced and were very excited to join the dispensary tour. I didn’t doubt their potency or ability due to the many publications released by Jaseng Spine and Research team; however, I was curious to see how exactly these herbs were made.
The first dispensary we toured was located in Seongnam. On the first floor, while our tour guide gave an introduction of the dispensary in Korean, Taejin translated her words into English for Amber and me. In the introduction, they emphasized the dependability and the safeness of the manufactured herbal medicines. As someone who was becoming more familiar with Jaseng medical herbs, I was not skeptical of their source and origin. However, I quickly realized that the people sitting in this room, listening diligently to the words of the tour guide, wanted to ensure the dependability of these substances and wanted gain knowledge about the substances they were going to put in their bodies as potential patients of Jaseng.
As we walked the second floor a strong aroma of a conglomeration of herbs filled our noses. People bustled around the room, accurately measuring herbs and creating the exact mixture for each prescription. Our tour guide took us into another room and explained this room stored over 300 herbs. Once again emphasizing the dependability of the herbs, she explained that Jaseng personally checks each packet of herbs for radioactive substances and debris, even though the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety already checks the substances first. Most herbs in the storage room originated from Korea, while some others came from China and Russia. One of the first items that caught my eye was the deer antler because Amber and I had recently read and translated a document regarding the function of deer antler. The guide explained that this particular shipment of deer antlers came from New Zealand and that each part of the antler was used for different purposes.
We moved on to the 3rd floor, where we saw each person’s prescription being processed. After processing, to prevent human error and contamination, the medicine moves through pipes to directly into packages. To ensure that each package has the exact same weight, each package is manually measured. After the medicine is packaged, the pipes are sterilized to prevent cross contamination. All of their packages displayed the Korean Ministry of Food and Safety’s stamp of approval, the GMP stamp (Good Manufacturing Practice). We also had the opportunity to watch how Gwanjugulgo, an herb that strengthens ligaments and regenerates cartilage, was produced and even had the opportunity to try it! Each solid black piece, manually measured, came in perfectly packaged cylinders. With the patients in mind, knowing that they would prefer a solid consistency rather than a liquid one, the Jaseng dispensary decided to ferment the herbal medicine to prevent it from melting in room temperature.
The last stop we visited in this dispensary was the packaging room. Jaseng dispensary’s goal is to not only create safe and effective herbs, but to also produce and ship these herbs efficiently. The herbs are delivered within a day to the hospital after receiving the prescription. The last safety checkpoint is to sterilize the packages. To ensure safe delivery, Jaseng Medical Dispensary staff personally delivers most of their packages.
The second dispensary we went to was in Namyangju. Similar to the Seongnam Dispensary, they first introduced the purpose of the dispensary, which was to ensure quality control, safety, and the scientific quality of the herbs. Before we started the tour, to prevent contamination, we were given white gowns and hair caps. We first went into a room filled with huge machines. The purpose of these machines was to turn the bitter medicine into concentrate so it would be easier and sweeter for the patient to digest. It was evident that through many trials and careful research they knew the perfect method of creating the medicinal concoction, while always having the patient in mind.
Jaseng puts in extensive effort to ensure that they produce the best products. This was especially evident when we watched the creation of pharmacopuncture medicines, the source of Jaseng’s surging growth, and process of filling the pharmacopuncture vials. Each vial was sterilized using high heat and pressure. The sterilization process is tedious yet necessary. One man removed any vials that had fallen down with tongs, while the other worker ensured the smooth injection of bee venom into the vials. Lastly, the tour guide took us to the lab. Here the chemists test the quality of each shipment of herbs, with multiple methods to decide which shipment to buy and which ones to reject.
Through this experience, I was able to not only see the dedication and commitment Jaseng puts into guaranteeing the best made herbal medicines, but also able to see the way they effectively ease people’s doubts.