Saturday, September 22, 2012

6 Examples of Herbal Plants in the Philippines


Sambong (Blumea balsamifera L.)

Herbal Medicine Picture: Sambong (Blumea Balsamifera)

Sambong (scientific name: Blumea balsamifera) is an amazing medicinal plant. Coming from the family of Compositae, it goes by several names locally. It is known in the Visayas as bukadkad and as subsob in Ilocos. The plant is a strongly aromatic herb that grows tall and erect. Its height ranges from 1.5 to 3 meters, with stems that grow for up to 2.5 centimeters. It is an anti-urolithiasis and work as a diuretic. It is used to aid the treatment of kidney disorders. The Sambong leaves can also be used to treat colds and mild hypertension. Since it is a diuretic, this herbal medicine helps dispose of excess water and sodium (salt) in the body.

Sambong is one herbal medicine (of ten) approved by the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) as an alternative medicine in treating particular disorders. This plant possesses a multitude of properties that make it worthy of the DOH approval. It functions as an astringent and as an expectorant, and has been found to be anti-diarrhea and anti-spasm. As an astringent, preparations made of sambong leaves may be used for wounds and cuts. It is also suggested to be incorporated to post-partum baths, as well as considerable immersion of particular body areas that are afflicted with pains caused by rheumatism. Its expectorant properties make it as a popular recommendation to be taken in as tea to treat colds.

Powdered Sambong leaves are available in 250 mg tablets at the DOH's Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PITAHC) Telephone # (632) 727-6199.

Health Benefits of Sambong:

• Good as a diuretic agent
• Effective in the dissolving kidney stones
• Aids in treating hypertension & rheumatism
• Treatment of colds & fever
• Anti-diarrheic properties
• Anti-gastralgic properties
• Helps remove worms, boils
• Relief of stomach pains
• Treats dysentery, sore throat

Preparation & Use:

• A decoction (boil in water) of Sambong leaves as like tea and drink a glass 3 or 4 times a day.
• The leaves can also be crushed or pounded and mixed with coconut oil.
• For headaches, apply crushed and pounded leaves on forehead and temples.
• Decoction of leaves is used as sponge bath.
• Decoction of the roots, on the other hand, is to be taken in as cure for fever.


Silymarin - Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)

Silymarin | Milk Thistle Plant

Silymarin is derived from Milk Thistle (seed extract from the flower of silymarin plant). The Milk thistle herb is a flowering plant of Silybum Adans genus, a member of the daisy family (Asteraceae). It grows mainly in North Africa, the Mediterranean region and the Middle East (now also grown in the U.S.) but is marketed and is widely available in the Philippines as a herbal liver supplement (silymarin capsules, trademark: Liveraide). Silymarin and milk thistle are frequently used interchangeably.

Laboratory experiments on animals (rats, baboons, dogs) shows that silymarin works by modifying hepatic cell membranes in a way that prevents liver toxins from entering the interior of the cells. The toxins that may damage the liver are expelled through the kidneys instead. Silymarin is a polyphenolic flavanoid consisting of three chemicals: silybin, silicristin and silidianin which are antioxidants that neutralizes and breaks down free radicals. When there is an existing liver damage, research shows that silymarin may help repair the damage and help regenerate new liver cells but is unlikely to help in the late stages of liver cirrhosis.

Many studies have been published on the health benefits of milk thistle and silymarin on humans but many are inconclusive or poorly done. Further studies are needed to fully appreciate the health benefits of silymarin on humans. However, anecdotal data suggests that it helps alleviate liver diseases and other aliments.

Since most commercial silymarin and milk thistle products are marketed as herbal supplements, they are not subjected to the same stringent standards imposed on prescription drugs. Their safety, purity and quality vary from brand to brand. In very rare instances, silymarin can cause headaches, upset stomach and joint pains. Silymarin is not recommended during pregnancy. Dozes over 1.5 grams a day may cause diarrhoea. It is recommended that you consult with your doctor or a health care provider before taking silymarin herbal supplements, liver supplements or any herbal medicine.

Anecdotal Health Benefits of Silymarin | Milk Thistle:

• Help improve liver function for those with cirrhosis of the liver and chronic hepatitis.
• Prevents inflammation of the liver 
• Cure for Amanita phalloides mushroom poisoning
• Helps control blood sugar in patients with diabetes and cirrhosis.
• Helps lower cholesterol levels.
• Reduces growth of breast, prostate, cervical and skin cancer cells.
• Helps reduce fatty infiltration on the liver caused by toxins and alcohol.
• A strong antioxidant that helps fight free radicals (see Key to Healing).
• Not used to prevent hepatitis C, but used to minimize the damage caused by it.
• Non-toxic / no known overdose symptoms.


Tanglad | Lemon Grass (Andropogon citratus DC)

Tanglad or Lemon Grass

Tanglad or lemon grass is a commercially-viable plant that is cultivated mainly for the fragrance that it produces. It can be easily found in most Asian countries, and is widely cultivated in tropical areas. By nature, tanglad is a permanent or perennial plant, and the benefits of which are not restricted to its fragrance. The utility of tanglad basically lies in its leaves, where all the benefits are derived. What can be seen of this plant are mainly its leaves, which allows easy access to the main part that is needed in order to enjoy tanglad's health benefits. It constitutes most of what appears of this plant above ground, as the leaves grow up to one meter in length, and are flat in shape.


Studies show that tanglad helps ease stomach discomforts and aids in lessening, if not totally curing, the pain caused by toothache and sprain. Lemon grass also displays anti-bacterial activities and anti-fungal properties, thus, eradicates ring worms. Like malunggay, lemon grass can also be applied to sprains for easy healing. In order to enjoy these benefits of tanglad, one needs to prepare a liniment. This can be done by chopping four ounces of the leaves and roots of tanglad and boiling them, along with fresh coconut oil. If it is infusion that an individual wishes to achieve, use one pint of water to boil the tanglad leaves with. The lemon grass plant may also serve as an insect repellant, particularly of mosquitoes. One can achieve an effect to this end either by applying liniment, or by placing crushed tanglad leaves in strategic places at home including the window sills. It is also an option to plant tanglad around the house so that placement of crushed leaves would no longer be needed.

Another health benefit which can be derived from tanglad, is the calming effect derived from its scent. Thus, lemon grass can aid an individual if such person is suffering from insomnia or stress. The plant also has therapeutic value, which allows it to be used by women who are suffering from menstrual problems or dysmenorrhoea, and from usual bouts of nausea. Tanglad also has cleansing properties, which makes it a good option to detoxify the various internal organs, like the liver. Lemon grass reduces the level of uric acid and of other toxins, as it detoxifies the body. This can result to better blood circulation and better digestion, as excess fats and cholesterol are cut down from the body. When taken in, tanglad affects the tissues in such a manner that there would be a significant reduction and avoidance of acne and pimples. Also, it tones the muscles and the tissues, and thus makes the skin firmer.

Like saluyot, exposure of an individual to the benefits of tanglad is greatly increased because of the nature with which it can be used. As saluyot can be taken in as part of one’s usual viand and dish, tanglad’s properties on the other hand, allows it to be used as food flavorings. Lemon grass is incorporated in a multitude of Asian cuisines and dishes, and in the Philippines it is even made part of commercial beverages. So aside from the oil that can be extracted from lemon grass leaves, the fluid that is obtained from the boiled leaves of this plant proves to have medicinal purposes as well. Such lemon grass leaves can also be used in its raw form by mixing directly with the food before it is served. Such dishes include, and are especially good, when the primary ingredient is fish or poultry. Besides the health benefits, tanglad balances the chili flavorings in dishes, which makes eating a more enjoyable experience.

Tsaang Gubat

Tsaang Gubat or Wild Tea (Ehretia microphylla Lam.)

Wild Tea (Tsaang Gubat) Picture

Tsaang Gubat is one of the 10 herbs that is endorsed the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) as an antispasmodic for abdominal (stomach) pains. And is registered as a herbal medicine at the Philippine Bureau of Food & Drug (BFAD).

Tsaang Gubat is a shrub (small tree) that grows (from 1 to 5 meters) abundantly in the Philippines. In folkloric medicine, the leaves has been used as a disinfectant wash during child birth, as cure for diarrhea, as tea for general good heath and because Tsaang Gubat has high fluoride content, it is used as a mouth gargle for preventing tooth decay. Research and test now prove it's efficacy as an herbal medicine. Aside from the traditional way of taking Tsaag Gubat, it is now available commercially in capsules, tablets and tea bags.

Tsaang Gubat is also knows as: Wild Tea, Forest Tea, Alibungog (Visayas Region), Putputai (Bicol Region) and Maragued (Ilocos Region). Scientific name: Ehretia Microphylla Lam.

Health Benefits of Tsaang Gubat:

• Stomach pains
• Gastroenteritis
• Intestinal motility
• Dysentery
• Diarrhea or Loose Bowel Movement (LBM)
• Mouth gargle
• Body cleanser/wash

Preparation & Use:

• Thoroughly wash the leaves of tsaang gubat in running water. Chop to a desirable size and boil 1 cup of chopped leaves in 2 cups of water. Boil in low heat for 15 to 20 minutes and drain.
• Take a cupful every 4 hours for diarrhea, gastroenteritis and stomach pains.
• Gargle for stronger teeth and prevent cavities.
• Drink as tea daily for general good health.

Virgin Coconut Oil

Philippine Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO)

Virgin Coconut Oil Picture


VCO is now getting global reputation as the healthiest and versatile oil in the world. The Philippines is one of the best sources of virgin coconut oil and it's popularity in the country is legendary. Although not an herb, we decided to make an article about VCO because of the growing interest on the oil and after receiving several inquiries from our visitors. 

Virgin coconut oil and regular coconut oil is rich in Lauric Acid, an essential fatty acid that is only found in high concentrations in mother's milk. When taken internally, Lauric Acid turns into a compound known as Monolaurin. It is this compound that is believed to fight viral pathogens that protects the body from bacteria, viruses and infections from parasites. Coconut oil also causes the metabolic rate to increase, hence helps reduce weight and is safe and beneficial for diabetics. 

For many years, coconut oil has been discredited (specially in the west) because of it's high saturated fat content. But recent studies have shown that not all saturated fats are the same. The medium chain triglycerides of which virgin coconut oil is classified, does not elevate LDL (the bad cholesterol) in our body compared to other polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as canola and sunflower oil which is widely produced in the west. 

How Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) is Made

First, the husk and the shell is removed from fresh coconuts, then the meat of the coconut is shredded -a process called "Wet Milled", then the meat is "Cold Pressed" to get the coconut milk without any chemicals. The milk is then fermented in containers for a day or two. After which, oil is produced. This oil is carefully filtered and separated from the curd. You now have what is called, virgin coconut oil. A more modern way of separating the oil from the curd is through centrifugal force.
The second method of producing virgin coconut oil (VCO) is using quick dried coconut meat and then processed in the same way. But the preferred manner by most is still the "Wet Milled" process. 

Difference between Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) and Regular (RBD) Coconut Oil.

RBD stands for Refined, Bleached, and Deodorized. Ordinary coconut oil usually comes from copra - coconut meat that is dried by either smoke, kiln or placing under the sun. Because the process itself is not sanitized, the oil must be further refined. To get more oil from copra, chemicals are usually used. RBD process is required to make the oil clear, odor free and tasteless. This procedure also removes the anti-oxidant and other properties of the oil. Some coconut oils are also hydrogenated which increases the serum cholesterol levels and thus is bad for the heart. 

While virgin coconut oil, being pure, unadulterated and unhydrogenated retains it's pleasant coconut taste, smell and all the health benefits of coconut oil. 

Much research still has to be done on the benefits of virgin coconut oil but preliminary findings and anecdotal reports are very promising. This may well be the much needed medicine to restore to health the ailing Philippine coconut industry.

Some Examples of Herbal Plants here in the Philippines


Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

Herbal Medicine Picture: Oregano (Origanum Vulgare)

Oregano (Scientific name: Origanum vulgare) is also known as Wild Marjoram, Mountain Mint, Origanum, Wintersweet and Winter Marjoram. This erectly spreading plant has strong aromatic characteristics, with leaves and stems that are fleshy. The leaves of oregano are heart-shaped, with toothed edges, and which, grow for up to 9 meters in length. In other countries, the plant is primarily used as a culinary ingredient. However, in countries like the Philippines, Oregano is a known herbal medicine for its strong anti-oxidant properties. Oregano contains a rosmarinic acid compound, thymol, and carvacrol that are responsible for its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. Oregano also contains flavinoids, triterpenoids, sterols, vitamin C, and vitamin A. Its anti-bacterial properties have been proven by recent studies to treat infections of the reproductive tracts, and which make it ideal to be given to women who have just given birth.

The volatile oils in oregano and its properties are believed to be responsible for slowing the process of spoilage of food and thus minimizing the risk of ingesting harmful bacteria, parasites and fungi.

The anti-oxidant properties of oregano helps fight free radicals in the body that cause cellular damage and accelerate ageing. Free radicals are believed to be involved with many degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis, atherosclerosis and heart diseases, to name a few.

The most useful parts of this plant are its leaves. The extracts and juices of such are used for asthma, dyspepsia, chronic coughs, bronchitis, and rheumatism. Ear aches have also been proven to be cured by the infusion prepared from its leaves. The leaves relieve painful swellings, boils, and sprains, when their poultices are applied directly to the affected area.

Health Benefits of Oregano:

• Good for cough and cold relief
• Helps prevent degenerative arthritis
• Has Anti-aging properties
• Helps relieve rheumatism and osteoarthritis
• Bronchitis herbal remedy
• Ease asthma attacks
• Relieves upset stomach
• Treatment of urinary tract problems
• Relief for dyspepsia or indigestion
• Healing wounds, insect bites & stings
• Cure for sore throat
• Avoid infections caused by childbirth by taking decoctions of the leaves by the recent mother.
• For general good health

Preparation of Oregano Leaves:

• Boil one cup of fresh leaves in 3 cups of water for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink half a cup 3 times a day for common colds.
• For a concentrate, juice the oregano leaves and take 1 tablespoon every hour to relieve chronic coughs, rheumatism, bronchitis, asthma, and dyspepsia.
• For Insect bites, wounds and stings, apply the leaves as a poultice directly on the afflicted area.
• For sore throat, boil 2 tablespoonfuls of dried oregano leaves in a pint of water, take 2 hours before or after meals.
• To prevent degenerative arthritis & for general good health drink oregano decoction daily.


Pandan (Pandanus tectorius


The pandan tree grows as tall as 5 meters, with erect, small branches. Pandan is also known as Fragrant Screw Pine. Its trunk bears plenty of prop roots. Its leaves spirals the branches, and crowds at the end. Its male inflorescence emits a fragrant smell, and grows in length for up to 0.5 meters. The fruit of the pandan tree, which is usually about 20 centimeters long, are angular in shape, narrow in the end and the apex is truncate. It grows in the thickets lining the seashores of most places in the Philippines. In various parts of the world, the uses of this plant are very diverse. Some countries concentrate on the culinary uses of pandan, while others deeply rely on its medicinal values. For instance, many Asians regard this food as famine food. Others however mainly associate pandan with the flavoring and nice smell that it secretes.

In the Philippines, pandan leaves are being cooked along with rice to incorporate the flavor and smell to it. As can be observed, the uses of the pandan tree are not limited to cooking uses. Its leaves and roots are found to have medicinal benefits. Such parts of the plant have been found to have essential oils, tannin, alkaloids and glycosides, which are the reasons for the effective treatment of various health concerns. It functions as a pain reliever, mostly for headaches and pain caused by arthritis, and even hangover. It can also be used as antiseptic and anti-bacterial, which makes it ideal for healing wounds. In the same manner, a preparation derived from the bark of this plant may be used to address skin problems. Many people have also discovered that it is an effective remedy for cough. In India, pandan leaves are being used to treat skin disorders like leprosy and smallpox. The bitter tasting quality of the leaves makes it ideal for health problems which include, but are not limited to, diabetes fever, ulcer and wounds. In Hawaii, pandan flowers are being chewed by mothers who later give the chewed flowers to their children, as laxative. The juice extracted from pounded roots of this tree is used and mixed with other ingredients to ease chest pains. Also, it is used as tonic for women who have just given birth and who are still in weak states. Pandan flowers have also been traced with characteristics that function as aphrodisiac. Pandan also manifests anti-cancer activities, and that is why modern researches in the United States have subjected this plant for further experiments and investigation.

Pandan Health Benefits:

• Treats leprosy, smallpox and wounds.
• Helps reduce fever
• Solves several skin problems
• Relives headache and arthritis
• Treatment for ear pains
• Functions as a laxative for children
• Eases chest pains
• Helps in speeding up the recuperation of women who have just given birth and are still weak
• Pandan reduces stomach spasms and strengthens the gum.

Preparation & Use of Pandan:

• Decoction of the bark may be taken as tea, or mixed with water that is to be used in bathing, in order to remedy skin problems, cough, and urine-related concerns.
• Apply pulverized roots of pandan to affected wound areas to facilitate healing.
• The anthers of the male flowers are used for earaches, headaches and stomach spasms.
• Chew the roots to strengthen the gum.
• Extract oils and juices from the roots and flowers are used in preparing the decoction to relieve pains brought about by headache and arthritis.


Pansit-Pansitan (Peperomia pellucida Linn.) a.k.a. Ulasiman-Bato

Pansit Panistan, Herbal Medicine Picture

Pansit-pansitan (family: Piperaceae) is an herbal medicine also known as Ulasiman-bato, olasiman-ihalas & tangon-tangon in the Philippines. English name: peperomia. It is a small herb that grows from 1 to 1 1/2 feet. Pansit-pansitan can be found wild on lightly shaded and damp areas such as nooks, walls, yards and even roofs. Pansit-pansitan has heart shaped leaves, succulent stems with tiny flowers on a spike. When matured, the small fruits bear one seed which fall of the ground and propagate.

The leaves and stalk of pansit-pansitan are edible. It can be harvested, washed and eaten as fresh salad. Taken as a salad, pansit-pansitan helps relive rheumatic pains and gout. An infusion or decoction (boil 1 cup of leaves/stem in 2 cups of water) can also be made and taken orally - 1 cup in the morning and another cup in the evening.

For the herbal treatment of skin disorders like abscesses, pimples and boils, pound the leaves and/or the stalks and make a poultice (boil in water for a minute or two then pounded) then applied directly to the afflicted area. Likewise a decoction can be used as a rinse to treat skin disorders.

For headaches, heat a couple of leaves in hot water, bruise the surface and apply on the forehead. The decoction of leaves and stalks is also good for abdominal pains and kidney problems.
Like any herbal medicine it is not advisable to take any other medication in combination with any herbs. Consult with a medical practitioner knowledgeable in herbal medicine before any treatment.

Pansit-pansitan is used as an herbal medicine for the treatment of:

• Arthritis
• Gout
• Skin boils, abscesses, pimples
• Headache
• Abdominal pains
• kidney problems


Pansit-Pansitan (Peperomia pellucida Linn.) a.k.a. Ulasiman-Bato

Pansit Panistan, Herbal Medicine Picture

Pansit-pansitan (family: Piperaceae) is an herbal medicine also known as Ulasiman-bato, olasiman-ihalas & tangon-tangon in the Philippines. English name: peperomia. It is a small herb that grows from 1 to 1 1/2 feet. Pansit-pansitan can be found wild on lightly shaded and damp areas such as nooks, walls, yards and even roofs. Pansit-pansitan has heart shaped leaves, succulent stems with tiny flowers on a spike. When matured, the small fruits bear one seed which fall of the ground and propagate.

The leaves and stalk of pansit-pansitan are edible. It can be harvested, washed and eaten as fresh salad. Taken as a salad, pansit-pansitan helps relive rheumatic pains and gout. An infusion or decoction (boil 1 cup of leaves/stem in 2 cups of water) can also be made and taken orally - 1 cup in the morning and another cup in the evening.

For the herbal treatment of skin disorders like abscesses, pimples and boils, pound the leaves and/or the stalks and make a poultice (boil in water for a minute or two then pounded) then applied directly to the afflicted area. Likewise a decoction can be used as a rinse to treat skin disorders.

For headaches, heat a couple of leaves in hot water, bruise the surface and apply on the forehead. The decoction of leaves and stalks is also good for abdominal pains and kidney problems.
Like any herbal medicine it is not advisable to take any other medication in combination with any herbs. Consult with a medical practitioner knowledgeable in herbal medicine before any treatment.

Pansit-pansitan is used as an herbal medicine for the treatment of:

• Arthritis
• Gout
• Skin boils, abscesses, pimples
• Headache
• Abdominal pains
• kidney problems


Sabila | Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis miller liquid)

Herbal Medicine Picture: Sabila / Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis Miller)

Sabila or Aloe Vera holds the scientific name, Aloe barbadensis miller liquid. It is an herb, which is known mainly for its cosmetic functions. However, this plant is also rich in substances that aid in several illnesses and ailments. The aloe vera plant has been found to have great contributions to health, both internally and externally. Research studies have shown that it has properties comprising of inhibitory, anti-inflammatory, regenerative, and anti-bacterial functions.

Preparations made with aloe vera as the primary ingredient have been effective in reducing pain and allergies. In the same way, some of its properties are responsible for cell regeneration that causes close cuts and hemorrhages to heal easily and more rapidly. Its purgative properties, brought about by the existence of six antiseptic agent substances in the plant (that is, cinnamic acid, lupeol, sulphur, salicylic acid, phenol and urea nitrogen), make it ideal in eradicating parasites, harmful bacteria, and fungi in the intestinal tracts. Sabila can be used externally for the treatment of acne, pimple burns, insect bites, and for moisturizing and hydrating the skin.

The herbal properties of Sabila is able to penetrate the inner parts of the body, and specifically targets joints, tendons, and muscles, and helps in the promotion and growth of new tissues. Aloe vera or Sabila contains vitamins B1, B2, B6, vitamin C, choline, niacin amide and 18 amino acids. You can mix the Aloe Vera extract with fruit juice and other drinks. Aloe Vera is also an anti-oxidant in which, it prevents oxidation of certain fats and gene cells, preventing ailing conditions like tumors and cancers. Since it is an anti-oxidant, it has anti-aging properties. It also reduces free radicals, which can damage the arteries. Aside from being an herbal medicine, Aloe Vera is good for the health and can be taken internally, or applied externally.

Medicinal Benefits of Aloe Vera:

• Treatment of acne, pimples & psoriasis
• Analgesic properties for inflammation of skin
• Helps reduce high blood pressure
• Anti-aging properties
• Heals insect bites, minor burns & sunburns
• Arthritis, diabetes
• Eradicates intestinal bacteria and parasites
• Helps prevent cancer & tumors
• Eases Constipation
• Antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic and antibiotic properties

Preparation & Use:

• For treatment of skin inflammation, acne, pimple, insect bites, scalds (minor burns) etc., remove the skin of a leaf then rub Sabila (Aloe Vera) juice on your skin (may be mixed with coconut oil) and leave for at least 30 minutes.
• The poultices of the aloe vera leaves may be applied directly to contusions.
• For hypertension, arthritis, diabetes, intestinal parasites, constipation etc., remove the skin and take internally. The jell liquefies a after a few minutes and can be mixed with other drinks.

Examples of Herbal Plants here in the Philippines


Bayabas or Guava (Psidium guajava)

Herbal Medicine Picture: Bayabas (Psidium Guajava)

Bayabas or guava is a tropical plant, which is locally known for its edible fruit. In the backyards of Filipino homes in the country, this plant is commonly seen, and grown because of its many uses as fruit and as traditional remedy to treat various ailments. As shown by many research studies, almost all of the parts of this plant have medicinal qualities and value, and thus, making it as one of the most popular therapeutic plants in the Philippines. Bayabas is a small tree that can grow up to 3 meters tall with greenish-brownish smooth bark. The round globular bayabas fruit starts as a flower and is usually harvested and eaten while still green. The fruit turns yellowish-green and soft when ripe.

The bayabas fruit bark and leaves are used as herbal medicine. Its leaves decoction is recognized for its effectiveness to cure several ailments, including the treatment of uterine hemorrhage, swollenness of the legs and other parts of the body, of chronic diarrhea, and gastroenteritis, among others. The most common use of the leaves is for cleaning and disinfecting wounds by rinsing the afflicted area with a decoction of the leaves. In the same way, such leaves are being used to aid in the treatment of dysentery and the inflammation of the kidneys. The bark and leaves can be used as astringent. It can also be used as a wash for uterine and vaginal problems, and is good for ulcers. The medicinal uses of Bayabas appear infinite, as it is also a suggested natural cure for fevers, diabetes, epilepsy, worms, and spasms. The fruit, aside from being delicious, contains nutritional values with a very high concentration of vitamin A and vitamin C.

Uses of Bayabas :

• Antiseptic, astringent & anthelminthic
• Kills bacteria, fungi and ameba
• Used to treat diarrhea, nosebleeding
• For Hypertension, diabetes and Asthma
• Promotes menstruation

The fresh leaves are used to facilitate the healing of wounds and cuts. A decoction (boiling in water) or infusion of fresh leaves can be used for wound cleaning to prevent infection. Bayabas is also effective for toothaches. Note: Bayabas can cause constipation when consumed in excess.


• Boil one cup of Bayabas leaves in three cups of water for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool.
• Use decoction as mouthwash, gargle.
• Use as wound disinfectant - wash affected areas with the decoction of leaves 2 to 3 times a day. Fresh leaves may be applied to the wound directly for faster healing.
• For toothaches, chew the leaves in your mouth.
• For diarrhea, boil the chopped leaves for 15 minutes in water, and strain. Let cool, and drink a cup every three to four hours.
• To stop nosebleed, densely roll Bayabas leaves, then place in the nostril cavities.


Carrot (Daucus carota L.)

Carrot (Daucus carota L.)

Carrot (Karot in Filipino) is an outstanding trait of this flowering plant, which belongs to the family ofApiaceae, is that it is self-fertile. By nature, carrot's flowers have both male and female organs, and are usually pollinated primarily by beetles and flies. In order to facilitate the cultivation of this plant, it is necessary to place it in an area where it can receive light. It has a strong rate of survival, because it can withstand strong winds. However, the carrot plant cannot bear to be exposed to salty water and soil. It is a biennial plant, which means that it usually takes two years for it to complete its life cycle. However, it is not uncommon for plants of this nature to complete its biological life cycle in a few months time, especially when subjected to extreme climate conditions.

Carrot is classified as a root vegetable, which grows as tall as one (1) meter. The wild carrot, from which the modern carrot’s cultivation is based, has flowers that are rounded, which are bright white in color when it is in full bloom. Such flowers have the width of 3 to 7 centimeters, and the vegetable itself is known to have various colors, such as orange, red, purple, yellow or white.

Carrots are extremely popular because of its numerous uses, and because of the many vitamins and minerals that it contains. For instance, its roots are edible, whether cooked or raw, and are used as an ingredient to soups and salad bowls. It has been found that carrot root juice is very rich in carotene, which in turn is converted to vitamin A by our liver, and is one of the vitamins that the body needs. Regular intake of carrot roots, in any manner, though recommended to be taken in juice form, improves eyesight. Particular substances that are contained in the roots have been discovered to be anti-cancer. That is the primary reason why carrot juice has become a popular drink, as it is associated with a wealth of health benefits. The roots of the carrot plant, when roasted, are also being used as a substitute for coffee. Extractions from the roots, known as carotene, are also being used commercially as a food dye. The leaves of this plant, which have high vitamin E content, are also being used as flavorings for soup. From the derived uses of this plant, it is evident that its roots, seeds, and leaves have particular functions which are known to be utilized by many.

Carrots have been known to have medicinal properties that allow it to be used as an astringent and antiseptic substance. Carrot has been used as a cleansing medicine, because of its activities which basically helps the kidney in the removal of waste in the body. It also aids in the stimulation of one’s menstruation because of the same properties. For children, raw carrot roots are a safe and recommended treatment for threadworms. In the same manner, regular intake of cultivated carrot roots allows the stimulation of urine flow. It manifests activities that help the skin, by virtue of its anti-oxidant contents.

Carrot Health Benefits:

• Body cleanser, and is a medication for kidney problems
• Treatment for cough and chest pains
• Anti-inflammatory and antiseptic function helps solve burns, ulcer and infected wounds

Preparation & Use:

• Boil with milk, and drink for cough
• Poultice of carrots may be applied to infected wounds and to the chest, in case it is going to be used to aid in an individual’s chest pains
• Ground seeds of the plant may be taken as tea, in order to increase urine flow


Gumamela (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Linn)

Gumamela Flower Picture


Gumamela is a shrub that grows from one meter up to 4 meters high. Gumamela is also known as: Hibiscus, China Rose and Shoeflower. In the Philippines, gumamela is cultivated as an ornamental plant. The gumamela flower comes in many colors: red, yellow, orange, white, purple, pink and other color combinations.

Gumamela leaves, usually blended with Rose Hip has long been used in the Middle East and Okinawa as herbal tea. Today, the use of gumamela tea is gaining worldwide popularity - including Asia. Gumamela (Hibiscus) is associated with longevity.

Gumamela as Herbal Medicine

As herbal medicine, gumamela flower, leaves and roots are used. Gumamela has the following medicinal characteristics: expectorant, diuretic, emollient, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, anodyne and refrigerant.

Preparation & Use of Gumamela:

There are two ways to utilize gumamela as herbal medicine. One is dried and the other is fresh. For Dried gumamela, collect the flower, leaves and/or roots. Wash, then cut into small pieces and sun dry. To use as decoction, boil the dried gumamela parts (1/4 cup dried gumamela in 1 glass of water)

To make a decoction from fresh gumamela, Wash gumamela flower and/or leaves, cut into small pieces and boil (1/3 cup in 1 glass of water), let cool and drink.

Use Gumamela as Poultice:

Poultice is the use or fresh or dried herbs that is mashed, crushed or pounded - often heated (boiled in water to soften and heat the herb) and applied directly to the skin. A clean cloth or gauze can be used to help the poultice stay in place.

Gumamela is used for the treatment of:

• Bronchitis - as an expectorant
• Coughs, sore throat
• Fever - as refrigerant drink
• Treats dysentery
• Urinary tract infection, bladder infections
• High blood pressure
• Prevention of constipation
• Headaches
• Boils, swelling & abscesses, mumps

Application & Use of Gumamela:

• Decoction is used to treat: Bronchitis, coughs, fever, dysentery, urinary and bladder infections, high blood pressure and constipation.
• Poultice is applied externally on the afflicted area. This is used to treat: headaches (on the forehead), boils, swelling, abscesses and mumps.
• Intake of gumamela (alone or mixed with papaya or papaya seeds) specially in large quantities can be an abortifacient.


Lagundi (Vitex negundo)

Herbal Medicine Picture: Lagundi (Vitex Negundo)

Lagundi (scientific name: Vitex negundo) is a shrub that grows in the Philippines. It is one of the ten herbal medicines endorsed by the Philippine Department of Health as an effective herbal medicine with proven therapeutic value. Commonly known in the Ilocos region as dangla, lagundi has been clinically tested to be effective in the treatment of colds, flu, bronchial asthma, chronic bronchitis, and pharyngitis. Studies have shown that Lagundi can prevent the body's production of leukotrienes, which are released during an asthma attack. Lagundi contains Chrysoplenol D, a substance with anti-histamine and muscle relaxant properties. Even in Japan, lagundi is becoming recognized as an effective herbal medicine, especially since researches have shown that it contains properties that make it an expectorant and it has been reported to function as a tonic as well. More than that, most of the parts of the lagundi plant have medicinal value.

The roots of this shrub are also used as treatment for rheumatism, dyspepsia, boils, and leprosy. The leaves, flowers, seeds, and root of Lagundi can all be used as herbal medicine. A decoction is made by boiling the parts of the plant and taken orally. Today, Lagundi is available in capsule form and syrup for cough. For its part, the flowers are recommended as a cardiac tonic, as cure for liver diseases, and other internal disorders such as diarrhea and cholera. The lagundi plant also has anti-inflammatory functions, and its cooling effects are ideal as treatment for skin diseases such as leprosy.

Plant Description: The Lagundi plant can grow up to five meters tall. It can be described as a cross between a shrub and a tree with a single woody stem (trunk). One of Lagundi's distinctive features is its pointed leaves with five leaflets set like a hand.

Lagundi tablets (300 mg) are available from the Department of Health's Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PITAHC) Telephone # (632) 727-6199.

Herbal Benefits of Lagundi:

• Relief of asthma & pharyngitis
• Recommended relief of rheumatism, dyspepsia, boils, diarrhea 
• Treatment of cough, colds, fever and flu and other bronchopulmonary disorders
• Alleviate symptoms of Chicken Pox 
• Removal of worms, and boils

Preparation & Use:

• Boil half cup of chopped fresh or dried leaves in 2 cups of water for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink half cup three times a day.
• For skin diseases or disorders, apply the decoction of leaves and roots directly on skin. 
• The root is specially good for treating dyspepsia, worms, boils, colic and rheumatism.

A decoction (boiling in water) of the roots and leaves of Lagundi are applied to wounds, and used as aromatic baths for skin diseases. Boiled seeds are eaten in order to prevent the spreading of toxins and venom from bites of poisonous animals. Juice extracted from the flowers of Lagundi plant is taken in as an aid for disorders like fever, diarrhea, liver disorders, and even cholera. While a decoction of the plant leaves is suggested to be taken by individuals to help increase the flow and production of milk, as well as to induce menstruation.

Luyang Dilaw

Luyang Dilaw - Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Herbal Medicine Picture: Ginger Root - Luyang Dialo (Zingiber officinale)

Luyang Dilaw, or Ginger Root (scientific name: Zingiber officinale) belongs to the family of, as its scientific name signifies, Zingiberaceae. The rootstocks of this erect, smooth plant are thick, and have strong aromatic qualities. Its edible roots, tops, and even its leaves are found to have medicinal value. The taste of luyang dilaw is distinct, brought about by the zingerone and shogoal substances that it has, giving the plant its pungent properties. As an herbal medicine, Luyang Dilaw has long been used as a cold, cough, fever, and sore throat remedy.

Ginger helps in the digestion and absorption of food, lowering of cholesterol, alleviating nausea and vomiting. Luyang dilaw has antifungal, antiseptic, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties as well. In the same way, it has been found to contain potent anti-oxidant qualities, which come from the extract and active constituents of the plant. These uses are separate and distinct from the nutritional value of luyang dilaw.

The rhizomes of luyang dilaw is mainly associated as the main ingredient in a very popular local beverage, which is salabat. Recent studies have shown that luyang dilaw had been found with traces of antiemetic properties. Thus, it is now being recommended to be taken half an hour before one’s travel to avoid being travelsick and experience nausea during the voyage. Pregnant women should take precautionary measures in taking luyang dilaw for medicinal purposes although it has been proven that none of the plant’s substances triggers adverse side effects, even when it interacts with other drugs. This herbal plant is not recommended for expectant mothers for the very reason that there is a possibility of inhibition of testosterones that binds the fetus, as a result of some of the properties that luyang dilaw contains.

In India, ginger is widely used to reduce inflammation and pain with those with arthritis. Researchers have found that ginger lowers pain-causing prostaglandin levels. They advise taking 500 to 1,000 milligrams a day. The higher the intake of ginger, the greater the relief.

Ginger also helps prevent hair loss. Pound an inch square of ginger and extract the juice. Massage the fresh ginger juice directly on to the scalp and leave on for at least 15 minutes before rinsing, but for best results, leave on overnight to better stimulate the hair follicles and induce hair growth.

Medicinal Benefits of Luyang Dilao (Ginger Root):

• Relieves rheumatic pains & muscle pains
• Alleviates sore throat, fever and colds
• Ease nausea and vomiting
• Intestinal disorders and slow digestion
• Relief from tympanism and flatulence
• Treat intestinal worms
• Hinder diarrhea, gas pains
• Relieve indigestion (dyspepsia), toothaches
• Lower cholesterol levels
• Aids treatment of tuberculosis

Preparation & Use:

• Boil the ginger root in water and drink. The more concentrated the better.
• For sore throat and tooth ache, remove the skin and chew small portions.
• For cuts & bruises, apply the juice of luyang-dilao directly to the skin or use dried rhizomes with 70% alcohol then apply to afflicted areas.
• For rheumatism and muscle pains, pound roasted or fresh ginger and apply to painful areas -can be mixed with oil for easy application.


Mabolo (Diospyros blancoi)Velvet Apple

Mabolo (Diospyros blancoi) aka Velvet Apple

A member of the Ebenaceae family, mabolo is known for its value as an ornament, rather than for its fruit. Its wood is commonly known in the Philippines as kamagong, and it is the fruit that goes by the name of mabolo. It is an evergreen forest tree that is medium-sized, and has an oval or conical-shaped crown. Depending on the way it was planted, a mabolo tree may have long, straight stems or short trunks. Its leaves are oblong-shaped, which are big and rounded but are pointed and narrow at the top. The mabolo fruit has a round, velvety outer cover which contains the seed in a pulp. From green, it becomes light brown and eventually, turns to magenta as this fruit berry ages and ripens. It is somewhat unpopular because of the strong cheesy odor that it emits, once the fruit is opened. When eaten, though, the mobolo fruit has an edible and sweet taste. The concern about its smell may be remedied by peeling its outside cover, and storing it in the refrigerator for several hours, so that the smell will already dissipate. Studies have shown that it is worthy to endure the odor of the fruit, because it has been found to contain several vitamins and nutrients. It is known to be an ideal source of calcium, vitamin B, iron, and protein. Thus, several ways of preparing the mabolo fruit has been constantly discovered. It is served as dessert, by mixing the fruit with lemon juice or lime. It is also used in salad preparations, by dicing the fruit. In the same manner, it is used as ingredients in soups, where it changes texture and becomes tough when stewed. This is ideal especially when served with ham and other meats that have a spicy quality in it.

Mabolo is grown commercially, but at a small scale only, as it can be found along the seashores by the locals in the Philippines. There are several uses for the mabolo plant and fruits, because of its commercial value. It is a very useful plant, in such a way that not only does it have ornamentation significance; but it also contains nutritional benefits and medicinal functions as well. The parts that are being utilized for this purpose are the leaves, bark, and the roots. Its bark is being utilized in such a manner that it is being decocted and prepared to address skin ailments like eczema, fever and cough. Now, some of the uses vary depending on the country. For instance, in countries in the Southeast Asia, diarrhea and dysentery are being remedied extracting the juice of the unripe mabolo fruit. In Bangladesh, preparations of the mabolo leaves and bark are being used as cleanser, particularly as eyewash and also used as an antidote for snakebites. In the Guianas, besides the already mentioned uses, mabolo preparations also function to address heart ailment and hypertension. Spider bites, stomach aches and diabetes are also three of the other health issues that mabolo has been found to help remedy.

Mabolo Health Benefits:

• Cough, stomach pains, fever, and skin ailments are treated by preparations of the mobolo leaves and bark.
• Used as medicine for diarrhea, dysentery, heart ailments, hypertension and diabetes.

Preparation & Use:

• Decoctions of the bark and leaves of mabolo are used for all the health concerns that have been listed on the left.


Malunggay (Moringa oleifera Lam.)

Malunggay (Moringa oleifera Lam.) Picture

The malunggay plant is known to different parts of the world under various names including, but not limited to, horseradish tree, drumstick tree, and dool in some regions. It is one of the more popular and publicized plant that is acknowledged to have nutritional, as well as, medicinal value. It is rich in vitamins A, B & C, minerals such as iron and amino acids. Fortunately, the plant is easily accessible as it can be found not only as part of the wild life, but also in the backyards of many Filipino homes. Malunggay proves to be a low-maintenance plant to grow, and is able to propagate in almost all kinds of soil. Most of the parts of the malunggay had been proven to be useful, both for consumption and for its preparation as a medicinal plant. Its flowers, leaves and young pods are associated and perceived to be important because of the health benefits that it provides. 

The malunggay plant, which belongs to the Moringaceae family, can grow as high as nine meters. The bark of this tree has a gummy quality in it, and when peered closely, is comprised of white wood that is soft in nature. It derives one of its names, horseradish, from the taste of its roots. The malunggay leaves, which are used in certain Filipino viands, have a very distinct shape that makes it easily recognizable. They are circular, thin sheets that are attached to a main stalk. The malunggay flowers are white fragrances that produce the pods, which are also used for medicinal purposes.


As have been mentioned earlier, there are various parts of the malunggay plant which are being used for health reasons. For one, the leaves of this plant proved to be a good source of calcium, iron, ascorbic acid and phosphorus. Its other parts such as the seeds, the young pods, and the flowers have been established to benefit individuals as far as anti-oxidant, anti-diabetic, circulatory stimulations, and such other activities that are most beneficial to mankind, are concerned. There have been claims that malunggay can be used to lower blood pressure, aid in pains caused by rheumatism, headaches and migraines, as well as its being an anti-tumor plant. Malunggay is also used for purgative and anti-fungal purposes, as well. All these prove the claim that this plant is indeed multi-purpose.

There are various ways to derive the benefits from malunggay plant. Aside from the natural and direct means, wherein one is going to prepare the concoctions at home by picking the necessary parts from the plant itself, one can also purchase the commercial extractions of malunggay. There are malunggay capsules that are now available in the market, which contain 250mg dried young leaves of the malunggay plant. In the same way, there are commercial oil extracts of the malunggay flowers which are also in the market. Because of the popularity that has been associated with this plant, commercial establishments have exploited the malunggay’s marketable qualities. For simple preparations however, as when the concoction would be used for uncomplicated ailments like hiccups, as a means to end constipation, or as wound cleanser, one may eat the cooked leaves of the malunggay plant during his last meals of the day. This should be accompanied by water, especially when the ailment to be addressed is constipation. Now, as wound cleanser, the leaves may be crushed and applied to the affected area directly. In all instances, cleanliness should be observed to avoid complications.


Makabuhay (Tinospora rumphii Boerl)


The makabuhay plant is a clinging vine, and the name itself suggests the primary purpose of such plant. Makabuhay is a Filipino translation of the English term ‘pro-life or to give life’. It is commonly known as the paliahan in the Visayas region. The plant belongs to the family of Menispermaceae, and can grow, or rather climb, up to fifteen meters long. The makabuhay leaves are thin sheets that are heart-shaped, and its flowers look distinct as they only have three petals. The makabuhay plant is known for its bitter nature, and the fruits of this plant are held in clusters, which can be as long as two centimeters. This plant may be propagated by planting its stem, which contains a bitter sap. However, it is important to note that makabuhay can be found in most forests all over the Philippines. It grows in tropical areas, and it is of little wonder why it is abundant in a country like the Philippines. The fruits of this plant have not been utilized nor established to have medicinal values. Only the leaves and the stems of makabuhay have been found to cure particular health concerns. For the stems, both the dried and the fresh stems are found to be beneficial. 


The stem of makabuhay plant is a primary ingredient used to concoct preparations that would prevent spread of malaria, and may be used as cleanser for skin ulcer and skin wounds. Clinical tests have shown that the decoction of this plant cures diarrhea, indigestion and scabies. Also, it is an effective ointment for pains caused by rheumatism. However, young children below the age of three, pregnant women, patients with typhoid fever, those who are suffering from pneumonia, and people diagnosed with heart problems, should not in any way take decoction that contains makabuhay, because their weak state will be in conflict with the strong medicinal effects that it manifests.

Preparation and Use of Makabuhay

It has been mentioned earlier that this plant have several medicinal uses. Thus, the form, preparation, and manner of intake also vary according to the purpose for which it will be taken. For instance, when makabuhay is going to be used as an ointment for rheumatism, its preparation is different in such a manner that the stems have to be chopped. It is suggested that the chopped stems amount to one-half glass and such stems are supposed to be fried for five minutes in a glass of coconut oil, under low fire. Then, the stems are to be separated after frying, after which ½ glass of grated candle wax should be incorporated to it. As soon as the wax have already dissolved and cooled down, the prepared ointment can already be applied to the body, except for the face, for three successive nights.

A similar preparation is to be observed when makabuhay is to be used to eradicate intestinal worms, and cure fever brought about by malaria. However, instead of sautéing, the stems are supposed to be boiled. In preparing this particular decoction, 30 grams of fresh makabuhay stems, or 25 grams of dried ones, are supposed to be boiled for twenty minutes in three cups of water. The extracts can be derived by subjecting the boiled preparation in a strainer, therefore removing the stems from the substance that are necessary to address the health concern discussed. The preparation should be taken and drank in half a cup, twice a day before the first and last meals of the day. Like any other medicinal plant preparation, should there be complications suffered or no marked improvements seen after administering the said preparation, treatment should be discontinued and a physician is to be consulted.


Niyog-Niyogan (Quisqualis Indica L.)

Niyog-niyogan (Quisqualis indica) Picture

Niyog-niyogan or Rangoon Creeper is an excellent vine for outdoor gardens. This ligneous plant, scientifically called Quisqualis indica L. It is also known as Burma or Rangoon Creeper, Liane Vermifuge and Chinese honeysuckle. Niyog-niyogan is perfect for covered walkways as it grows at least 2.5m long and reaches up to 8m long when it matures. This active climber, which belongs to the combretaceae family grows best in tropical areas and demands constant sunlight. Perhaps due to its tropical characterization that it is found in primary and secondary forests of countries like Africa, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and other Asian regions.

Niyog-niyogan is cultivated in greenhouses and can be naturalized in tropical areas. This vine starts as a shrub about 3-feet tall with branches growing from all directions. The mother shrub seizes to grow and dies after six months allowing the creeper to rapidly climb walls, trees, and the like. The branches of niyog-niyogan are filled with oblong-shaped leaves growing on opposite sides attached to 6mm to 10mm long petioles. The leaves of niyog-niyogan can grow up to 15cm long and more than 5cm wide with a pointed tip. Its flowers grow in clusters and it blossoms year-round. Its flowers open at night with five bright red petals and gives out a distinct perfume. The young flowers of niyog-niyogan start with white-colored petals that turn pink then red as it matures. It also bears fruits, which can grow up to 3cm long with five angles on its sides.

The niyog-niyogan plant grows in haste during the rainy season, hence constant pruning is especially recommended during this time. It is advised to place this plant in spacious areas to avoid crowding with a temperature of at least 60°F with evenly moistened soil to produce flowers. Niyog-niyogan can thrive in almost all kinds of soil and can even tolerate moderate amount of drought in cold seasons.

Benefits & Treatment of Niyog-Niyogan:

Almost all of its parts are used individually, or mixed with other ingredients, as remedy to different ailments. In the Philippines, these are taken to rid people of parasitic worms. Some also use these to help alleviate coughs and diarrhea. Medical experts, advice patients to consult their doctors as improper dosing may cause hiccups. Niyog-niyogan’s leaves are used to cure body pains by placing them on specific problematic areas of the body. Compound decoctions of the leaves of niyog-niyogan are used in India to alleviate flatulence.

Preparation & Use:

Seeds of niyog-niyogan can be taken as an anthelmintic. These are eaten raw two hours before the patient’s last meal of the day. Adults may take 10 seeds while children 4 to 7 years of age may eat up to four seeds only. Children from ages 8 to 9 may take six seeds and seven seeds may be eaten by children 10 to 12 years old.

Decoctions of its roots are also sometimes used as a remedy for rheumatism while its fruits are used as an effective way to relieve toothaches.