SINCE time immemorial, people from all the corners of the globe have been using herbal plants in treating different diseases.
The ancient civilizations were known to have relied on the power of herbal medicines, and even the modern world has adopted some of their practices and herbal concoctions in utilizing this alternative medicine.
In the Philippines where herbal plants species abound, it is customary for Filipinos to use them in nursing minor sicknesses such as cough, colds, flu, infections, and other skin infections. Though there are still many Pinoys who still question the efficacy of these plants, medical researches and studies have already acknowledged their value in the world of medicine.
The Department of Health (DOH)released their recommended list of herbal plants found in the Philippines and the health benefit they provide.
In 1997 then President-Fidel V. Ramos signed the Republic Act 8423 also known as Traditional and Alternative Medicine Act. This gave birth to the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care.
Sambong or blumea camphor (Blumea balsamifera)
This plant is known for its useful traits in treating kidney stones, wounds and cuts. It can be helpful as well in healing rheumatism, colds, coughs and acts as an anti-diarrhea, anti-spasms.
Patients with kidney problems are familiar with sambong, as it’s popular to carry diuretic treatment for hypertension. It also regulates uric acid in the body.
Studies show that this plant helps delay dialysis.
Akapulko or ringworm bush or Acapulco
In most places, this plant is called as bayabas-bayabasan and it’s an effective treatment for tinea infections, insect bites, ringworms, eczema, scabies and itchiness.
The akapulko leaves when extracted can be directly applied to affected areas in the skin.
Ampalaya or bitter gourd (Momordica charantia)
The plant is originally a vegetable eaten alongside fish and meat dishes as meals. It might have a bitter taste but it is endorsed by the DOH because of its healing power on diabetes, hemorrhoids, coughs, burns and scalds.
This plant is normally extracted to food supplements ingested by patients.
Bawang or Garlic (Alium sativum)
Bawang is a staple in the Philippine alternative medicines. Aside from being useful in the kitchen, it also can give benefits to your body. It has been proven to heal infection because of its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and it is also known to reduce cholesterol levels. It plays a significant role in lowering blood pressure and boost the immune system.
Bayabas leaves or guava (Psidum guajava)
Bayabas is a fruit equally delicious and helpful for the body. It’s used as a herbal medicine for treating open wounds and keeping the intestines healthy.
The leaves have antibacterial and antiallergy properties that perfect to apply on wounds.
Lagundi or five-leaved chaste tree (Vitex negundo)
This plant is effective in reducing cough, colds, and fever. It’s also known to treat asthma, pharyngitis, rheumatism, dyspepsia, boils, and diarrhea.
Lagundi is a common ingredient in cough syrups and capsules.
Niyog-niyogan or rangoon creeper (Quisqualis indica L.)
This type of vine is commonly mistaken for coconut. In reality, it is a medicine that eliminates intestinal parasites. It also contains deworming properties.
It is also popular in healing ulcers, headaches, diarrhea, fever and painful urination and some even claim it to be anticancer.
Tsaang cubat or scorpion bush (Ehretia microphylla)
Known as “wild tea” in the herbal world, this Is used to treat skin allergies like eczema, scabies, and itchiness in childbirth.
The healing properties found in this plant can also be used to treat mild psoriasis.
Pansit-pansitan/ulasimang bato or clear weed or silver bush (Peperomia pellucida)
This herbal plant is powerful in treating arthritis and gout. The folklore also believes that it can be a medicine for eye inflammation, high blood pressure and kidney problems.
It’s usually taken as part of a meal or in a salad.
Yerba buena or mint (Clinopodium douglasii)
It’s popular as peppermint and can be an analgesic to relieve body aches and pain due to rheumatism and gout. This can also go as a pain reliever for stomach and tooth ache. Mint can be extracted into tea.
Malunggay or horseradish tree (Moringa Oleifera)
Malunggay can be mixed with chicken in soups and beans. It’s considered as a superfood that Filipinos use to increase milk in lactating women.
The leaves are source of phosphorus and iron. It has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. It contains vitamin A, potassium, calcium, and vitamin C.
It is best when added in soup but it can also be consumed raw.
Tawa-tawa or asthma Plant (Euphoria Hirta)
The DOH recommended this plant as effective treatment for dengue fever. In 2014, it was listed as beneficial when it comes to maintaining the upper respiratory and increasing the blood platelet count.
Tawa-tawa is valuable in the health industry as it boosts the immune system. It was also recorded to help patients recover from Dengue faster.
Banaba or giant crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia speciosa)
This herbal plant can be used to treat diabetes and kidney failure, as well as obesity and high fever.
In folklore, banaba is used to prevent constipation, kidney inflammation, and urinary dysfunctions.