Medicinal Plants at Your Fingertips
When we suffer from any illness, we are inclined to at once seek the help of a doctor or rush to a drug store for self-medication. But there are proven treatments to illnesses using plants commonly found around us.
They can save us a good sum of money and provide immediate relief from complaints if only we know how to use them. Of course, it’s still convenient to take a pill, but what is its cost?
Here are ailments and their treatments using local medicinal plants according to the “Guidebook on the Proper Use of Medicinal Plants” by Dr. Nelia P. Cortes-Maramba.
Some of the plants may not be familiar to you, but Maramba provides photos of these plants in her book which enables you to identify them at once. Even better, contact the Philippine Council of Health, Research and Development (PCHRD) which promotes the use of medicinal herbs.
Another government agency, the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PITAHC), is actually processing some of these medicinal plants into easy-to-take pills.
1. Wounds. For superficial cuts and scratches, apply on the wound the juice from the leaves of any of the following: balanoy, bawang, dilaw, balanoy, eucalyptus, ikmo, luya, sulasi, or suob kabayo.
2. Bleeding. Boil one or two handfuls of the plant material any of the following in a small pot of water for fi ve minutes: abutra stems, balanoy, bayabas (guava), kalantas bark, kamakamatisan, damong maria, duhat leaves, lagundi leaves, lanting, makabuhay ste ms, sampalok leaves, sulasi leaves, suob kabayo, and tangan-tangan leaves. Use this extract or decoction to wash the wound once or two times daily.
3. Toothache. Chew fresh leaf tops of bayabas young leaves and leave on the aching tooth but do not swallow. Another treatment is by inserting into the aching tooth up to 15 minutes a blanched and then crushed clove of garlic. Extracts of lagundi or yerba Buena leaves may also be used as cure. For adults, boil four tablespoons or tbsp ( if dried) or six tbsp (if fresh) of any of the leaves in two glasses of water for 15 minutes or until only one glass of the liquid is left. Drink one part of the decoction every three or four hours. Children aged seven to 12 should receive treatment using half of the leaves of the material required in adults.
4. Abdominal pain. Indigestion, diarrhea, intestinal parasitism, urinary tract disease, menstruation, and other ailment may all result in abdominal pain. A relief is by drinking a decoction taken from boiling any of the following in one glass of water for 15 minutes or until only one half of the liquid is left: two tbsp of bayabas leaves if dried (three tbsp if fresh), one tbsp of dried or fresh mangosteen peel, or two tbsp if dried or three tbsp if fresh of tsaang gubat leaves. For children, use one-half of the adult dose. For gaseous distention, treatment can come from boiling in one cup of water for fi ve minutes one tbsp (dried or fresh) of the following leaves: balanoy, bani, romero, sulasi, sambong (two tbsp for fresh), tanglad (two tbsp for fresh), and yerba buena. Strain the mixture and drink when lukewarm.
5. Abscess (boil). A warm, painful swelling under the skin containing pus, an abscess may be caused by a dirty skin, an obstruction in the sweat glands, a punctured wound, or a clotted blood. Wash the abscess daily; apply warm compress to provide pain relief. Apply the following medicinal plants as poultice (warm, soft, moistened mass spread on cloth and applied to a sore) to hasten point of boiling: gumamema fl ower bud, kamantigi leaves, mansanilya fl ower, sambong leaves, suob kabayo leaves, talumpunay leaves or fl ower.
6. Asthma. Drink a decoction that comes from boiling lagundi leaves (four tbsp if dried and six tbsp if fresh) with two glasses of water for 15 minutes. Take one part three times daily. Talumpunay dried fl ower or leaves may also be made into a cigarette and smoked. But do not smoke the cigarette for more than six hours, and another precaution is just like marijuana, it may be addictive.
7. Arthritis. Heat enough amount of these fresh leaves– balanoy, kabling, lantana, sulasi, yerba Buena—or siling labuyo fruit and luya rhizomes. Pound the plant material and apply while warm on the affected joint.
8. Burns. Apply two times daily on the affected parts the juice of any of these–gumamela fl ower buds, oregano leaves, and sabila leaves. If a blister forms, take off the skin, clean with soap and water, and apply the medicinal plant.
9. Constipation. Aside from taking eight to 12 glasses daily and eating plenty of fi ber-rich food like vegetables and fruits, treatment includes eating of one to two medium sized rice papaya fruit or one or two cups of the following cooked vegetables– kamote leaves, kamoteng kahoy leaves, kangkong leaves, malunggay leaves. Other treatments are eating one-fourth to one-half cup of the following cooked seeds—kasuy, linga, mani, or pili; drinking the mixture of one or two crushed kanya pistula fruit in one glass of water; drinking of two teaspoons of palay bran boiled in one glass of water for fi ve minutes; and drinking of one or two tbsp of coconut cream taken from coconut meat.
10. Cough. This is a symptom of many illnesses including throat infection, bronchitis, colds, measles, fl u, tuberculosis bacteria, and smoking. Relief can come from the decoction of six tbsp if dried or eight tbsp if fresh of alagaw leaves boiled in two glasses of water for 15 minutes. Balanoy leaves, lagundi leaves, luya rhizomes, mangga tops, oregano leaves, and eucalyptus leaves may be a substitute to alagaw leaves but using a different material requirement (refer to the book). Take one part three times daily. Children aged seven to 12 should get half of the adult dose.
11. Diarrhea. Dehydration or loss of water that can go with diarrhea can be treated with oresol or coconut water (from seven to nine-month old fruit), or clean water mixed with two tbsp of sugar or honey, one-fourth teaspoon of salt and one-fourth teaspoon of baking soda. For controlling the increased frequency of bowel movement, eight tbsp if dried and 10 tbsp if fresh of the following leaves may be boiled with two glasses of water— abukado, or kaymito. Drink one part every two to three hours. Children aged seven to 12 should take half of the adult dose. Bayabas leaves, mangosteen peel, tsaang gubat leaves, and niyog fruit may substitute abukado or kaymito but using a different dosage (refer to the book).
12. Dizziness, fainting, and hysteria. Let the patient sniff any of these crushed fresh plants—leaves of balanoy, bayabas, kalamansi, suha, sulasi, or yerba Buena; dalanghita, or kabuyaw or dayap leaves or rind; and pounded anis seed wrapped in cloth.
13. Falling hair. Use gugo bark soaked in water until lathery to wash hair and scalp. Use sabila leaves as juice applied and massaged on the scalp, and wash off after 15 minutes.
14. Fever. Indicated by a body temperature of 37.5 degrees centigrade and up, fever is a symptom of many illnesses (infection like flu, colds, measles, malaria, meningitis, tonsillitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis; heart stroke, and cancer). Aside from intake of fl uids, sponge bath, a decoction of four tbsp of dried lagundi leaves boiled in two glasses of water for 15 minutes may be given to a patient. Other substitutes are leaves of alagaw, balimbing, dayap, kamyas, lagundi, mangga, sambong, sampalok, and suha.