THE Philippines loses billions of pesos from the importation of drugs, some of which are not only nonessential but also even extremely dangerous. But unknown to most Filipinos, the country has various plants and herbs, which can cure a number of ailments.
Garlic, for instance, is an ancient surefire remedy for asthma, bronchitis and other ailments of the respiratory tract. It is a medication that has been used for centuries by Chinese, Hindus, Greeks and even Egyptians.
Science has proven garlic’s antiseptic, germicidal powers. Grated garlic was placed near murderous germs or bacteria that cause typhoid, cholera, polio and even gonorrhea. What happened? These were all killed in a few minutes.
For kidney trouble
Corn grows everywhere, but few Filipinos ever take advantage of cornsilk as medicine for kidney trouble. Suppose farmer Monching wakes up one morning with his sides and back aching all over. When he bends, he can’t straighten up. His bladder is full because he has urinary problems, like burning upon urination. Of course, it is best to see a doctor immediately to get rid of the pains.
What if there’s no doctor around town? Physicians, after all, don’t live in barangays and small towns. Their families must eat, too, so physicians always establish themselves in prospering towns.
Without medical help, Monching can prepare his own homemade remedy. But how? By just gathering dried cornsilk from his ripening corn and boiling a fistful of it in four cups of water for 15 minutes. “Let it cool and when just warm, drink the water at mealtimes and between meals,”’ an expert tells us. “The pain will steadily clear up in two to three days.”
Our herbs doctor (herbolarios) know this, only they make a big hocus-pocus of it, leading you to believe that they have added other ingredients for effectiveness. Nothing there at all; it is just plain boiled cornsilk, the water to be drank.
In a related development, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) has been promoting the medicinal powers of lagundi, yerba buena and tsaang-gubat. The efficacy and safety of these three plants have been proven through scientific research and clinical tests.
For cough and fever
Among the medicinal uses of lagundi are to stop coughing, relieve asthma, facilitate the discharge of phlegm and to lower fever due to colds or flu. It is also a pain reliever for headache and toothache.
For cough, asthma and fever, lagundi leaves—either dried or fresh—are boiled in two glasses of water for at least 15 minutes. This boiled mixture is called among experts as “decoction.”
To stop coughing, take ½ glass of decoction three times a day. In addition, drink at least eight glasses of water a day to further help loosen phlegm.
If you’re suffering from asthma, take 1/3 glass of decoction three times a day. However, if your asthma does not improve after one dose of the decoction or when the attack is severe, consult your physician right away.
For fever, take ½ glass of decoction every three hours, or as needed. To relieve headache, heat enough fresh lagundi leaves over a fire until slightly wilted. Then crush the leaves and apply on forehead and temples. Bandage the leaves in place. Change the dressing every four hours when needed.
If your brother or sister complains of toothache, give him/her ½ glass of lagundi decoction every three hours.
On the other hand, yerba Buena—known in the science world as Mentha cordifolia or peppermint among English-speaking countries—can be used in relieving pain. As analgesic, it is effective for headache, toothache and pains caused by arthritis.
Yerba buena for arthritis? You must be kidding! But you read it right, folks. There is yet no cure for arthritis, but it can be made less painful by resting, and placing hot compress on the affected joints. Or, you can use yerba buena leaves to relieve the pain.
But how? Simply heat enough fresh leaves (including the stems and petioles) over a fire, then pound and apply on the affected joints while still warm. Apply bandage to keep the leaves in place. Change the dressing every four hours, as needed.
To relieve toothache using yerba buena, wet a small piece of cotton ball with juice extracted from pounded fresh leaves and then place on the aching tooth.
Also a mouthwash
Aside from being medicinal, yerba buena is also a mouthwash. Now, here’s a more natural way to keep your breath fresh and your mouth clean. To prepare a yerba buena mouthwash, soak two tablespoonful of chopped fresh leaves in a glass of water for 30 minutes. Strain and use as mouthwash.
A friend of ours once told us that she used tsaang-gubat—also called kalabonog, maramara, semente and buyo-buyo—to treat diarrhea or LBM (loose bowel movement, that is). You will know a person has diarrhea when his stool is soft to watery and when he has to move his bowels more often than two times in one day.
To treat LBM using tsaang-gubat, boil dried or fresh leaves in two glasses of water for 15 minutes. Let cool, then strain and divide into four parts. Drink one part every two hours (until stool becomes solid).
In addition to taking tsaang-gubat, remember also that a person with diarrhea should take in nutritious solid and liquid foods to replace those that he discharges. Fatty foods and dairy products must, however, be avoided as they will worsen the diarrhea. Instead, the patient must eat foods that promote the hardening of stools, like banana (particularly the latundan variety), guava, star apple, etc.
On the other hand, parsley is considered a miracle herb. It is reportedly an effective medicine for several illnesses, among them, inflammation of the kidneys and bladder trouble. Eat parsley with your vegetables.
There are hundreds of home remedies, thousands maybe from our grasses, plants, bushes, shrubs and trees. Sometime ago, we read that a Chinese scientist compiled herbal plants in China and his list ran close to 6,000 to 7,700. Our very own, the late Filipino scientist Eduardo Quisumbing, had a book on medicinal plants and trees. It has been reprinted and is now sold in bookstores.
By the way, in treating ailments with herbs and medicinal plants, use only one herb or medicinal plant at a time. It is best to use one already recognized and prescribed by the Department of Health or experts.
Here’s another caution: herbal medicines have specific uses. Do not use them for other than what is called for.
And that’s a health thought for the day!