Herbal Medicines are naturally occurring plant-derived substances that are used to treat illnesses within local or regional healing practices. Whole herbs contain many ingredients that are used to treat and relieve symptoms. It is also called botanical medicine, it uses the plant’s seed, berries, roots, leaves, bark or flowers for medicinal purposes. Here are the top 5 herbal medicines in the Philippines that is approved by the Department of Health.

AKAPULCO (Casia alata)

File:Ringworm Bush (Cassia alata) Akapulco.jpgAn erect, shrubby legume reaching 6 ft tall. It has dark green leaves and yellow-orange flowers, producing as much as 50 to 60 small, triangular seeds. The akapulko leaves contain chrysophanic acid, a fungicide that is used to treat fungal infections, like ringworms, scabies and eczema. Akapulko has a long history of medical usage and has a long list of folkloric health benefits for the following conditions.

Skin problems and diseases. Akapulko is commonly used as an antibacterial and anti-fungal treatment for various skin diseases that include tinea infection, ringworms, eczema, scabies, insect bites and all sorts of skin itchiness. 

Stomach problems. Akapulko has long been used to treat stomach related problems that include: Laxative to expel intestinal parasites, diuretic purgative.

Anti-inflamatory activity. Akapulko is known to alleviate symptoms related to inflammation and is used in the treatment of the following: arthritis, gout, rheumatitis, bursitis and other joint and muscle problems.

Lung problems. Akapulko tea is also a folkloric remedy to prevent symtoms of lung problems such as asthma attacks, bronchitis and coughs.

Mouth problems. Akapulko is used as mouth wash for various mouth problems that include ulcers, sores, and toothache

AMPALAYA (Momordica charantia)

AmpalayaAmpalaya or bitter melon also known as bitter gourd as the name implies has a bitter taste due to the presence of momordicin, and is believed to be among the most bitter of all vegetables. Ampalaya bears fleshy green fruit,  oblong shaped with pointed ends, ribbed and wrinkled, bursting when mature to release seeds. Ampalaya seeds are flat with ruminated margins. Ampalaya has a long history of medical usage and has a long list of folkloric health benefits for the following conditions:

Diabetes. Ampalaya or bitter gourd is a widely used herbal remedy to lower the blood sugar levels for diabetic patients.

Analgesic. The juice of Ampalaya is used to alleviate symptoms of fever, headache and body pains.

Eye problems. Ampalaya juice is also used to treat eye related problems that include sty and sore eyes. It is thought to improve eyesight and prevents the development of cataract.

Respiratory ailments. The juice from ampalaya fruit and leaves are used to treat various respiratory problems that may include, asthma, wheezing cough, bronchitis and pharyngitis.

Hair and scalp problems. Ampalaya or bitter gourd has been used to treat various hair and scalp problems that may include hair loss, dry scalp, lice and pimples on the scalp.

Weight loss. Ampalaya is also used to promote body metabolism and the burning of fats thus it is valued as a weight loss supplement.

Source of energy. The vitamins and mineral found in ampalaya is considered as a stamina builder that combats fatigue.

Antioxidant. Ampalaya is also considered as a potent anti-oxidant activity that counters the oxidation of free radicals that is the cause of cancer.

BAWANG( Allium sativum)

Bawang

Bawang is a low herb, growing to up to 2 feet high. Bawang is widely popular for its bulbs. Bawang bulbs are broadly ovoid, 2 to 4 cm in diameter, consisting of several cloves. Bawang leaves are linear and flat. Bawang has a characteristic pungent, spicy flavor that mellows and sweetens considerably with cooking. Bawang cloves are used as seed, for consumption (raw or cooked), and for medicinal purposes. The leaves, stems (scape) and flowers (bulbils) on the head (spathe) are also edible and most often consumed while immature and still tender.  Bawang has long been used in traditional medicne by various cultures, Widely known health benefits include the following:

  • In ancient Rome bawang was fed to the athletes for increasing stamina
  • In ancient Chinese and Indian medicine,  bawang is used to aid respiration and digestion and to treat leprosy and parasitic infestation
  • Bawang is also used to treat  arthritis, toothache, chronic cough, constipation, parasitic infestation, snake and insect bites,
  • Bawang is also used for gynecologic diseases, as well as in infectious diseases (as antibiotic).
  • Bawang consumption is known to lower blood pressure
  • Consumption of bawang prevents heart diseases
  • Bawang is believed to help treat cancer.

BAYABAS(Psidium guajava)

Bayabas

 

Bayabas or guava is a fruit bearing shrub or small tree that grows 3 to10 meters tall with greenish to red-brownish smooth bark.  Its leaves and fruits contain eugenol, tannin, saponins, amydalin, phenolic acids, malic acid, ash, aldehydes, catequinic components and flavonoids. Bayabas or guava is used in herbal medicine as antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, antioxidant hepatoprotective, anti-allergy, antimicrobial, anti-plasmodial, anti-cough, antidiabetic, and antigenotoxic. 

Bayabas is traditionally used as antiseptic and anti inflammatory for skin conditions such as skin burns, scalds, scrapes, sunburn, wounds, psoriasis, eczema and others. Crushed bayabas leaf or boiled leaves is applied directly to the affected skin, providing relief and believed to improve healing.

Bayabas is traditionally used to treat stomach problems like diarrhea, dysentery and flatulence.

LAGUNDI(Vitex negundo)

Vitex negundo leaf

Lagundi is an erect, branched tree or shrub, that grows to as much as 5 m high. Lagundi has a single thick, woody stem like a trunk. It appears palmately, in the form of five pointed leaves which splay out like the fingers of a hand. Lagundi leaves are 5-foliate, rarely with 3 leaflets only. Lagundi leaves are 4-10 cm long, slightly hairy beneath. The lagundi flowers are blue to lavender, 6-7 mm long bearing fruit globose of about 4mm in diameter that turns black when ripe. It’s main health benefit is to ease respiratory complaints. Lagundi is generally used for the treatment of coughs, asthma symptoms, and other respiratory problems. 

Lagundi is also known for its analgesic effect that helps alleviate pain and discomfort. Other traditional health benefits that are as follows:

  • Lagundi is used to prevent and treat worm infestation
  • Lagundi is also used treat skin diseases such as eczema, ring worm, etc.
  • Used to wash wounds to promote healing,
  • Lagundi has an analgesic function to treat rheumatism, muscle pain and inflammation of joints
  • Lagunid is used for anorexia,
  • Used to treat Stomach problems such as colic, spasms and indisgeston,
  • Lagundi has claimed health benefits against high cholesterol.
  • Lagundi is also used as a carminative herb
  • Lagundi is believed to promote good memory and eye sight,
  • Lagundi tea is taken to relieve anxiety and to promote relaxation.

These are just a few of the many herbal medicines that were created by God  for our consumption and relief from our common and not so common illnesses.  Hope to see you on my next post!