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There was a burgeoning global movement towards alternative therapies, a new-age allure for "natural" remedies; and in the Philippines, the beginnings of herbal medicinal research & development. In 1992, during the term of Juan Flavier as Secretary of Health, a brochure of 10 medicinal plants (akapulko, ampalaya, bawang, bayabas, lagundi, niyog-niyogan, pansit-pansitan, sambong, tsaang-gubat, yerba buena) for common health problems was published and commercial production was pursued. In 1997, the TAMA (Traditional and Alternative Medicine Act) was passed, providing a legitimizing boost to the alternative medicine movement in the Philippines. The internet is testament to the exploding global alternative movement, the rush for the green, the herbal and the natural, with cybermarts glutted with the latest in noni juices, virgin oils, new and improved erectile naturaceuticals, new, re-discovered, or recycled treatment modalities, embellished with come-on components of qi, magnets, gems, or herbs in all of its various forms - extracts, powders, capsules, tablets and teas - some profusely laden with testimonials, catering to or preying on the needs of the new-age and the aging urban and burgis markets. It is uncertain how this global-cyber-alternative-rush will trickle down to benefit the rural poor who has always relied on alternative modalites and healers and wild-crafted herbal plants as mainstay therapies for its sundry of healthcare needs. While it has gained in-roads into the alternative commerce of urbanburgis markets, alas, but its a long way from the impoverished rural dirt roads. The "rolling stores" with its promise of affordable and accessible herbal medications - together with dayto-day commodities and needs - to the indigenous populace was a short-lived political play, palaver and politicalfanfare for the expectant "masa" that sputtered and stalled on first gear. We have a very diverse flora, with about 1,500 of over 13,000 species with identified medicinal value. A $100-million global market for medicinal plants has caused renewed interest. Yes, it will be a great opportunity for private enterprise. Alas, for the poor. These capsules, tablets, ointment and teas will never be affordable.
Research and development of herbal medicinal plants and the commercial production of some have not made any measurable benefits to the impoverished rural poor. The commerce and trade remains in the profit-fueled markets of urban and suburban milieu. There continues the difficult divide between the practitioner of western medicine and the advocates of alternative medicine. For the most part, the "old" medical establishment continues to present an unyielding front, big-city practitioners far removed from the economics and realities of rural life and health care, suspicious and derisive of non-allopathic modalities, denigrating the practice of alternative medicine to the hilots and albularyos. And, so goes herbal medicinal plants, denigrated to medical bags of albularyos and the hand-me-down use of many of the rural folk.
Alas, such a waste.
The study of Philippine medicinal plants may well provide the crossroad for a merging of allopathic and alternative medicine. The rural areas provide a hexiological environment for the study of herbal therapies and other alternative modalities. Studies in search for scientific validity involves only a handful of the more than 1500 species of plants with medicinal value: Lagundi for cough and asthma; sambong as a diuretic and to prevent kidney stones; tsaang gubat for abdominal pains and as antimotility agent; yerba buena for fever and body aches; niyog-niyogan for ascariasis (antihelminthic); bayabas for wound disinfection (antiseptic); akapulko for skin (antifungal) infections; ulasimang-bato for arthritis and gout; bawang to lower cholesterol; and ampalaya for diabetes mellitus.
Philippine pharmacopeia released in 2004 lists 30 crude plant drugs that has been in study for potential benefits: Dita bark, sinta herb, kintsay leaf, sampaguita flower, ipil-ipil seeds, makahiya herb, apatot fruit, malunggay bark, ikmo leaf, paminta, oregano leaf, mayana leaf, granada rind, romero leaf, akasya leaf, duhat bark, sampalok pulp, makabuhay stem, ginger and banaba.
Ai syn: Shen-ai, hsi-ai (fine mugwort); DAMONG MARIA Artemisia vulgaris Linn. Ch'en P'i DARANGHITA Citrus reticulata Blanco Chia-chu-t'ao syn: Chiu-chieh chung (nine swollen nodes); ADELFA Nehrium indicum Chiang-t'i LUYA Zingiber officinale Rose Ch'iang-wei mei syn: K'ung-hsin t'eng (hollow vine); SAGMIT Rubus rosaefolius Chiao-ch'uang syn: Chuang-yuan ts'ao (highest Hanlin scholar grass); Rubus rosaefolius Chi-hsueh Ts'ao syn: K'ou-tzu ts'ao (button grass) TAKIP KOHOL Centella asiatica Linn. Chih-tzu syn: Huang chih-tzu (yellow gardenia) ROSAL Gardenia jasminoides Ellis. Chin-kuo Lan-sui syn: Ti-tan (earth egg); LAGTANG Tinospora capillipes Chin-yen Hua syn: Yen hua t'eng (silver-flower vine); JAPANESE HONEYSUCKLE Lonicera japonica Ch'e-ch'ien syn: Chu erh-to (hog's ear); LANTING Plantago major Ch'ien-chin T'eng syn: Shan wu-k'uei (mountain black turtle); MALABUTA Stephania hernandifolia Ch'in-chiu LIMANG-SUGAT Justicia gendarussa Linn. Ch'ing Chu syn: Wei-hsieh (withering leaf); IKMO Piper betle Linn. Ch'ing-kuo PILI Canarum album Ch'ing-tai TINATINAAN Indigofera tinctoria Linn. Ch'i-yeh Lien syn: O-chang ch'ai (goosefoot wood); GALAMAI Schefflera arboricola Hyata Chiu-li Kuang syn: Yeh chu-hua (wild daisy ); LANOT Senecio scandens Ch-ueh-ming tzu syn: Ts'ao Ch-ueh-ming KATANDA Cassia tora Linn. Chu-ma syn: Ch'ing-ma (blue nettle) pai-mi (white nettle); RAMIE Boehmeria nivea Linn. Chuan Pai syn: Chiu-ming wang (life-saver king); PAKONG TULOG Selagenella tamariscina Fei-yang Ts'ao syn: Ju-chih ts'ao (milk herb); GATAS GATAS Euphorbia hirta L. Hai-chin-sha syn: Yin-chin t'eng (sinew hardening vine); NITONG PULA Lygodium japonicum Hei Chih-ma LINGA Sesamum indicum Hei Mu-erh syn: Mu erh (wood ears), yun-erh (cloud ears) TAINGAN-DAGA Auricularia auriculajudae Ho-tzu KOMINTANA Terminalia chebula Retz. Hsi Ch'ien PUT Siegesbeckia orientalis Linn. Hsi Ts-ao syn: Hung hsi-ts-ao (red madder); MANKIT Rubia cordifolia Hsiang-fu syn: T'ien-t'ou ts'ao (field sedge) MUTHA Cyperus rotundus Linn. Hsiao-hui syn: Hsiao-hui-hsiang (fragrant fennel); ANIS Foeniculum vulgare Mill. Hsien Mao syn: Tu-chiao hsien-mao; TALOANGI Curculigo orchioides Gaertn. Hsien-niu KAMOKAMOTIHAN Ipomoea nil Roth. Huang Ching syn: Chiang ts'ao (sauce grass); LAGUNDI Vitex negundo Linn. Huang-hua syn: Hung lan-hua (red orchid); KASUBHA Carthamus tinctorius Linn. Huang Tu syn: Huang-yao-tzu (yellow kidney); UBI-UBIHAN Dioscorea bulbifera Linn. Hu-chia PAMINTA Piper nigrum Linn. Hu-lu UPO Lagenaria vulgaris I-chi-kao syn: fei-t-ien wu-sung (sky flying centipede); luan-t-oufa (unkept hair) MILFOIL Achillea sibirica Ledeb. I-chi-Huang-hua syn: Huang-hua ts'ao (yellow-flowered grass); TANTANDUK Solidago virgaurea I-I syn: Niao-chu-tzu (urine pearl); ADLAI Coix lachryma-jobi Linn. Kou-chi syn: Mao kou-erh (hairy puppy); BORABOR Cibotium barometz Linn. Ku-ya PALAI Oryza sativa Linn. K'u chi syn: Hsiang-ling ts'ao (tinkling bell grass); PANTUG PANTUGAN Physalis pubescens Linn. K'u Lien syn: Tz'u-hua shu (purple flower tree); PARAISO Melia azedarach Linn. Lai-fu-tzu Ts-ao LABANOS Raphanus sativus Linn. La-liao Ts'ao syn: Hung la-liao (red smartweed); BUDING Polygonum hydropiper Linn. Lien-tzu BAINO Nolumbo nucifera alba Linn. Lu syn: Luken, wei-ken (roots of bullrushes); TAMBO Phragmites communis Lung Kuei syn: Yeh la-chiaw (wild pepper); Lubi-lubi Solanum nigrum Linn. Man-t'ien-hsing syn: P'ien'ti ch'ing (green groundcover); KANAPA Hydrocotyle rotundifolia
Man-t'-o-lo Tu syn: Nao-yang hua (goat-provoking flower), la-pa hua (trumpet flower); TALONG PUNAI Datura metel Mao Ken KOGON Imperata cylindrica Mao-kao Ts'ai syn: Ti-hsia chen-chu (imderground pearl) BAIN Drosera peltata Ma-ch'ih Hsien syn: Lao-shu erh (mouse's ear); OLASIMAN Portulaca oleraceo L. Ma-pien Ts'ao syn: Lung-ya ts'ao (dragon teeth grass); VERBENA Verbena officinalis L. Ma-ying Tan syn: Ts'ou-ts'ao (stink grass); KANTUTAY Lantana camara L. Mu Chin syn: Chao-k'ai mu-lo (morning-opening-and-evening-close); GUMAMELANG-ASUL Hibiscus syriacus L. Mu Lan syn: Yeh lan-chih-tzu (wild blue twigs); TINA-TINAAN Indigofera tinctoria L. Mu Pi syn: Y'u mu-pi, mu-pieh-tzu; PATOLANG-UAK Momordica cochinchinesis No-tao Ken PALAI Oryza sativa L. O-pu-sh'ih syn: Chin ti-lo (brocade carpet); HARANGAN Centipeda minima Linn. Pa-chi-t'ien ULASIMANG ASO Bacopa monniera Pa-so Ma syn: Ch'ou ts'ao (stink weed); SAUKO Sambucus javanica Reinw. Pa-tou TUBA Croton tiglium L. Pai-chu Shu syn: Man-shan hsiang (whole mountain fragrant); Idsa Gaultheria cumingiana Vidal Pai-hua She-she Ts'ao syn: She-chen ts'ao (snake-needle grass); ULASIMAN KALAT Oldenlandia diffusa Willd. Pai-niu Tan syn: Pai-mien feng (white-faced wind); DAMONG-MABAHO Inula cappa DC. Pien-tou (Pai-pien-tou) BATAU Dolichos lablab Pin-lang BUNGA Arecha catechu Linn. P'i-li syn: Mu-lien (wood lotus); CREEPING FIG Ficus pumila L. P'i-ma syn: Hung p'i (red castor bean), ta ma-tzu ('cannabis'); TANGAN-TANGAN Ricinus communis Linn. Po-ho syn: Lung-nao po-ho (camphor mint); HIERBA BUENA Mentha arvensis L. Po-hsi syn: Chin-kang t'eng (study vine); SARSAPARILANG-CHINA Smilax china Linn. P'u-ti Wu-sung syn: Shen-chin ts'ao (sinew extending herb); LAMON BABAE Lycopodium cernuum L. Sang Chih AMORAS Morus alba Linn. Shan-Yao syn: Tzu-t'i chi (purple ladder); UBI-UBIHAN Dioscorea batatas She-kan syn: Lao-chun shan (the lord's fan) ABANICO Belamcanda chinensis Linn. Shih-chun-tzu NIOG-NIOGAN Quisqualis indica Linn. Shu-ch'u Ts'ao syn: Shu-erh ts'ao (rat's ear grass); BADOK Gnaphalium multiceps Wall. Shui Ch'ang-p'u syn: Pai ch'ang-p'u (white calamus); LUBIGAN Acorus calamus L. Shui Lung syn: Kuo-t'ang she (pond-crossing snake); SIGANG-DAGAT Jussiaea repens L. Suan (Hsiao Suan) (garlic); BAUANG Allium sativum Ta Fu-p'i BUNGA Areca catechu L. Ta Hui syn: Pa-chiao hyu-hsiang; SANKE Illicium anisatum Ta Tou syn: Hei-tou; UTAU Glycine max Merr. Ti Huang syn: Sheng-ti-huang (crude figwort); ULASIMANG ASO Rehmannia glutinosa Gaertn. Ti Tan-t'ou syn: Ts'ao hsieh-ti (straw sandals); DILA DILA Elephantopus scaber Linn. T'u Ching-chieh syn: Hu-ku hsiang (fragrant tiger bones); ALPASOTIS Chenopodium ambrosiodes L. Tou-ch-ih UTAU Glycine max Tsa-chiang Ts'ao syn: Huang-hua ts'ao (yellow-flower grass); TAINGAN-DAGA Oxalis corniculata Linn. Tung-kua P'i syn: Tung-kua-jen; KONDOL Beningcasa hispida Tzu Hui syn: Wu-chao chin-lung (five-claw golden dragon); MELENDRES Lagerstroemia indica Linn. Tz'u Hsien-ts'ai syn: Yeh hsien-ts'ai (wild amaranth) URAI Amaranthus spinosus Linn. Wang Kua syn: T'o-kua (local gourd); MELON-MELONAN Trichosanthes cucumeroides Wu-shui Ko TUIA Pouzolzia zeylanica Yang-t'i Ts'ao syn: I-tien hung (a-drop-of-red); TAGULINAW Emilia sonchiflolia Linn. Yeh Chu-hua syn: Chin-ch'ien chu (golden-coin chrysanthemum); MANSANILLA Chrysanthemum indicum Linn. Yuan-sui syn: Yen sui-ts'aw (banquet coriander); KULANTRO Coriandrum sativum Linn. Yu-chin DILAU Curcuma longa Linn.
Philippine Medicinal Plants
This list provides common medicinal plants in the Philippines. There are many other Philippine medicinal plants, herbs and trees found in the country but are actually rarely used as herbal medicine. These are the more widely used and popular medicinal plants: Akapulko (scientific name: Cassia alata) - a shrub known to be a diuretic, sudorific and purgative. The medicinal uses of akapulko are to treat fungal infection of the skin and for the treatment of ringworms. English name: ringworm bush. Ampalaya (scientific name: Momordica charantia) - a vegetable used to treat diabetes (diabetes mellitus) it is now commercially produced in tablet form and tea bags. English name: bitter melon and bitter gourd. Atis (scientific name: Anona squamosa L.) - a small tree used as a medicinal herb. The leaves, fruit and seeds are used in the treatment of diarrhea, dysentery and fainting. English name: Sugar apple and Sweet sop. Banaba (scientific name: Lagerstroemia speciosa) - a tree found throughout the Philippines. The leaves, roots, fruit and flowers all have medicinal uses. It is used in the treatment of diabetes and other ailments. It is a purgative and a diuretic. Bawang (scientific name: Allium sativum) - a specie of the onion family. English name: Garlic. It is used to reduce cholesterol in the blood and thus helps lower blood pressure. Bayabas (scientific name: Psidium guajava) - more popularly known as guava, bayabas is a small tree whose boiled leaves are used as an disinfectant to treat wounds. The decoction is also used as a mouth wash to treat gum infection and tooth decay. The bark is also used in children with chronic diarrhea. Gumamela (scientific name: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Linn) - called China rose or Hibiscus in the West, it is a common ornamental plant in the Philippines. As a medicinal herb, it is used as an expectorant for coughs, cold, sore throat, fever and bronchitis. Lagundi (scientific name: Vitex negundo) - one of the better known of the medicinal plants in the Philippines, lagundi (five-leaved chaste tree) is a shrub with many medicinal uses. It is used for the relief and treatment of coughs, asthma, dyspepsia, worms, colic, rheumatism and boils. The root is known to be an expectorant, tonic and febrifuge. Luya (scientific name: Zingiber officinale) or Ginger. It is botanically not a root but a rhizome of the monocotyledonous perennial plant. It has many uses as a medicinal herb with antifungal, antiinflammatory, antibiotic, antiviral, diuretic and antiseptic properties.
Niyog-niyogan (scientific name: Quisqualis indica L.) - is a vine that is an effective in the elimination of intestinal worms, particularly the Trichina and Ascaris by ingesting its matured dried seeds. Chew (5 to 7 dried seeds for children or 8 to 10 seeds for adults) two hours after eating. Repeat treatment after a week if necessary. Roasted leaves are also used for fever and diarrhea while pounded leaves are used for skin diseases. English name: Chinese honey suckle. Oregano (scientific name: Origanum vulgare) - a perennial herb with antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Commonly used for cooking in the West, it is used as a medicinal plant in the Philippines. A decoction of oregano leaves is taken internally for the prevention of degenerative arthritis, relief of cough, osteoarthritis, asthma and upset stomach. Pansit-Pansitan (scientific name: Peperomia pellucida Linn.) - an herb used to treat arthritis, gout, skin disorders, abdominal pains and kidney problems. It is applied to the skin as poultice or as a decoction when taken internally. Sabila (Aloe barbadensis miller liquid) - one of the most common medicinal plants in the Philippines that can be found in many Filipino homes. It is a succulent plant used to treat burns, cuts, eczema and other disorders. Aloe vera has antiviral, antifungal, antibiotic, antioxidant and antiparasitic properties. Sambong (scientific name: Blumea balsamifera) - a Philippine medicinal plant used to treat kidney disorders, colds, fever, rheumatism, hypertension and other ailments. As a diuretic, it helps in the excretion of urinary stones. A decoction of leaves is taken internally for treatment. It can also be used as an edema. English name: Blumea Camphora. Tsaang Gubat (scientific name: Ehretia microphylla Lam.) - a shrub prepared like tea, it is now commercially available in tablets, capsules and tea bags. This medicinal herb is effective in treating diarrhea, dysentery, gastroenteritis and other stomach ailments. It has high fluoride concentration making it a good mouth wash for the prevention of tooth decay. English name: Wild Tea. Ulasimang Bato (scientific name: Peperomia pellucida) - an annual herb also known as "pansit-pansitan". It is a medicinal herb that is effective in treating gout, arthritis and prevents uric acid build up. A decoction of the plant is taken internally or the leaves and stem can be eaten fresh as salad. To make a decoction, boil a cup of washed chopped leaves in 2 cups of water, simmer for about 15 minutes, strain, let cool. Drink a cup 2 times a day after meals. Yerba Buena (scientific name: Clinopodium douglasii) - a vine of the mint family, popularly known as Peppermint. Its analgesic properties make it an ideal pain reliever to alleviate the body's aches and pains. A decoction of clean leaves is taken internally or externally as a poultice by pounding the leaves mixed with a little water then applied directly on the afflicted area. Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) - Although not a medicinal plant, VCO is a product of the coconut tree. VCO is one of the more popular alternative medicine widely used in the Philippines today. It is taken internally for various aliments like diabetes to high blood pressure. Topically, VCO is also applied to the skin and scalp to nourish and heal.
Tips on Handling Medicinal Plants / Herbs:
● If possible, buy herbs that are grown organically - without pesticides. ● Medicinal parts of plants are best harvested on sunny mornings. Avoid picking leaves, fruits or nuts during and after heavy rainfall. ● Leaves, fruits, flowers or nuts must be mature before harvesting. Less medicinal substances are found on young parts. ● After harvesting, if drying is required, it is advisable to dry the plant parts either in the oven or air-dried on screens above ground and never on concrete floors. ● Store plant parts in sealed plastic bags or brown bottles in a cool dry place without sunlight preferably with a moisture absorbent material like charcoal. Leaves and other plant parts that are prepared properly, well-dried and stored can be used up to six months.
Tips on Preparation for Intake of Herbal Medicines:
● Use only half the dosage prescribed for fresh parts like leaves when using dried parts. ● Do not use stainless steel utensils when boiling decoctions. Only use earthen, enamelled, glass or alike utensils. ● As a rule of thumb, when boiling leaves and other plant parts, do not cover the pot, and boil in low flame. ● Decoctions loose potency after some time. Dispose of decoctions after one day. To keep fresh during the day, keep lukewarm in a flask or thermos. ● Always consult with a doctor if symptoms persist or if any sign of allergic reaction develops.
Philippine Plants, Fruits & Trees
There are many useful Philippine plants and trees (some are herbal medicines & some are not) both traditional and non-traditional that employs many Filipinos, generates foreign exchange and help our economy grow. We have listed here some of the more popular cultivated plants and trees in the Philippines...featured here is the Tuba-tuba Plant- touted as the best substitute to imported diesel fuel.
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