9 Herbal Medicines in the Philippines

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Just a few years ago the Department of Health (Philippines) introduced medicinal plants that are cheaper than prescription medications and shown to be effective and safe for public use. These herbs are found in many specialty/health markets and may even be planted in your very own backyard!

I’ve put together a list, complete with the purpose of each herb, how to use it, the recommended dosage and the English name (so it’s easier to ask for outside of the Philippines).

NOTE: These herbs are thoroughly researched in use for mild cases only. As with anything new,  there is a chance of allergic reaction, which is why I still strongly suggest to always consult your physician before trying anything new.

1. Sambong

English Name: Camphor

Scientific Name: Blumea Balsifimera

Often used as a diuretic for fluid retention problems in cases of hypertension. It is also commonly used for wounds, cuts, rheumatism, diarrhea, colds and cough.

  • Sambong Tea

Gather fresh leaves, cut in small pieces and thoroughly wash

Boil 50 grams of Sambong leaves in 1 liter of water

Let it steep for 10 minutes and remove from heat

Serve and drink while warm

It is recommended to drink 4 glasses a day for best results.

  • Sambong Poultice 

Gather leaves and roots and wash

Pound it in a mortar

The freshly pressed leaves and juice can be used topically by applying directly onto the skin

2. Akapulko

English Name: Ringworm Bush/Shrub

Scientific Name: Cassia Alata

This shrub is only found in the Philippines. It is an anti-fungal and used for purposes such as athlete’s foot and scabies. 

  • Akapulko Poultice 

Gather and wash the leaves

Pound Akapulko leaves until juice is extracted

Clean the area thoroughly and apply the juice topically on affected area, twice daily

3. Tsaang Gubat

English Name: Wild Tea

Scientific Name: Carmona Retusa

This plant grows in the tropical climate of the Philippines used as a treatment for diarrhea and stomach aches. It may also be used as a mouthwash, due to its high fluoride content.

  • Tsaang Gubat Tea: Stomach Problems and Mouth Gargle 

Pound a cup of Tsaang Gubat leaves in a mortar

Boil for 10 to 15 minutes

Allow it to cool before drinking or gargling

For best results it is advised to drink 3 cups a day. The tea’s potency is only effective for a day.

4. Ampalaya

English Name: Bitter gourd

Scientific Name: Momordica Charantia

Due to its awfully bitter taste, most people would avoid this herb, but it is known for treatment in mild non-insulin dependent diabetic patients. This herb, when ingested, has demonstrated effects of lowering your blood sugar by helping the pancreas produce more insulin.

Ampalaya can be cooked, juiced, steamed, or mixed with other vegetables. To lessen the amount of bitterness, once cut open, the pulp is removed and soaked in water with salt. For juicing, skip the salt just wash with water and juice it. I tried this one in a shot glass. They are extremely bitter, but loaded with nutrients. This fruit and leaves of this herb are edible and are rich in Vitamins A, B, C, Calcium, Phosphorus, Iron, Folic Acid and Beta-Carotene.

5. Lagundi

English Name: Five-leaved Chaste Tree 

Scientific Name: Vitex Negundo 

One of the most known plants in the Philippines for its efficacy in eliminating coughs, colds, asthma and other respiratory problems. It has been shown to reduce the body’s production of leukotrienes during an asthma attack. This herb has anti-histamine and muscle-relaxant properties. Elders often use this for an aromatic bath when ill.

  • For Lagundi Tea

Wash fresh or dried Lagundi leaves 

Chop and add 4 cups of water for every 1 cup Lagundi

Boil for 10 to 15 minutes

Steep and strain

Drink half cup of Lagundi tea three times daily

6. Ulasimang Bato/Pansit-Pansitan

English Name: Clear Weed

Scientific Name: Peperomia pellucida

Treats rheumatism and gout by lowering uric acid. In one study, this plant showed a 44% decrease of uric acid levels in blood. It is used as an alternative for allupurinol. Stems and leaves may be eaten raw as a salad mixed with other vegetables. It is described to have the crunchiness of a carrot.

7. Bawang

English Name: Garlic

Scientific Name: Allium Sativum

Aside from its use in many recipes for it’s distinct flavor, this little powerhouse has many medicinal purposes, from lowering blood pressure, to relieving a toothache. It’s even been used as a decongestant, containing antibiotic properties as well. 

  • For Toothache:

Simply crush one garlic clove and bite

Allow the juice to seep in

  • For Sore throat: 

Peel and chew one clove

Swallow the juice extracted

  • For Decongestion: 

Steam chopped garlic, vinegar and water

Inhale

The thought of chewing garlic may not be too appealing, not to mention the odor it leaves behind on your breath, but it’s a small price to pay for such a powerful natural remedy and it’s something you likely have in your kitchen right now.

8. Bayabas

English Name: Guava

Scientific Name: Psidium guajava

An edible, sweet, juicy fruit that has Vitamin A, C and antiseptic properties for bruises, it can also be used as an astringent. It should be noted that consuming large amounts of the fruit can be a cause for constipation, so consume in moderation.

  • For Wound Cleansing and Gargle – use the leaves

Gather fresh leaves and wash well

Boil one cup of leaves in three cups of water for 8 to 10 minutes

Strain and let cool

Wash affected area, 2 to 3 times a day or gargle as you would mouthwash and spit

9. Yerba Buena (Hierba)

English Name: Part of the Mint family

Scientific Name: Clinopodium douglasii

This plant was being used long before its medicinal properties were discovered. Due to its strong mint flavor, it has been commonly used in salads. Medicinally, it is used as an analgesic, treatment for insect bites, nausea or made as a tea.

  • Preparation:

Let the leaves dry out for 2 weeks

Crush and boil 2 tablespoons of Yerba Buena in one cup of water

Let it seep for 30 minutes and strain

Drink for at least 4-6 cups a day for analgesia

There you have it! 9 medicinal plants found in the Philippines, which may be found in markets or gardens near you as well. Nature really does provide so much wonder and amazing resources for our health. Hopefully this information is useful for you. I know I certainly learned a lot while researching all of this!

Sources:

  1. www.medicalhealthguide.com
  2. www.philippineherbalmedicine.org
  3. www.filipinoherbshealingwonders.filipinovegetarianrecipe.com
  4. http://pinoybusiness.org/2009/06/12/doh-approved-herbal-medicines-
  5. hd10.doh.gov.ph/archive-articles/6-10-herbal-medicines

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Nicarose Mela

Nicarose Mela

Licensed Nurse at Nica Can Write
Nicarose Mela U. Gerona is originally from Mandaluyong, Metro Manila.She spent her growing years in Qassim and Ar-Ar, Saudi Arabia with her family, then returned to her home country permanently for her schooling. She studied and graduated as Class Salutatorian in Bethany Baptist Academy Makati during high school, earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree in the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Pasig (University of Pasig City) as a Dean’s Lister and Best in Health Education Awardee in her fourth year.

In June 2013, she passed the Philippine Nursing Licensure Examination. She is member of the Philippine Nurses Association, a licensed IVT specialist (Intravenous Therapy), and a BLS-ACLS provider following the American Heart Association standards. Currently, she works in a non-hospital environment, which gives her the time to write, read books and paint.
Nicarose Mela

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