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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Herbal Medicines


Herbal medicine is defined as the use of natural herbs and plants for the treatment or prevention of diseases, disorders and for the promotion of good health. 
·        Guava
Bayabas or guava is a tropical plant, which is locally known for its edible fruit. In the backyards of Filipino homes in the country, this plant is commonly seen, and grown because of its many uses as fruit and as traditional remedy to treat various ailments. As shown by many research studies, almost all of the parts of this plant have medicinal qualities and value, and thus, making it as one of the most popular therapeutic plants in the Philippines. Bayabas is a small tree that can grow up to 3 meters tall with greenish-brownish smooth bark. The round globular bayabas fruit starts as a flower and is usually harvested and eaten while still green. The fruit turns yellowish-green and soft when ripe.

The bayabas fruit bark and leaves are used as herbal medicine. Its leaves decoction is recognized for its effectiveness to cure several ailments, including the treatment of uterine hemorrhage, swollenness of the legs and other parts of the body, of chronic diarrhea, and gastroenteritis, among others. The most common use of the leaves is for cleaning and disinfecting wounds by rinsing the afflicted area with a decoction of the leaves. In the same way, such leaves are being used to aid in the treatment of dysentery and the inflammation of the kidneys. The bark and leaves can be used as astringent. It can also be used as a wash for uterine and vaginal problems, and is good for ulcers. The medicinal uses of Bayabas appear infinite, as it is also a suggested natural cure for fevers, diabetes, epilepsy, worms, and spasms. The fruit, aside from being delicious, contains nutritional values with a very high concentration of vitamin A and vitamin C.

Uses of Bayabas :

• Antiseptic, astringent & anthelminthic 
• Kills bacteria, fungi and ameba
• Used to treat diarrhea, nosebleeding
• For Hypertension, diabetes and Asthma
• Promotes menstruation

The fresh leaves are used to facilitate the healing of wounds and cuts. A decoction (boiling in water) or infusion of fresh leaves can be used for wound cleaning to prevent infection. Bayabas is also effective for toothaches. Note: Bayabas can cause constipation when consumed in excess.

Preparation:

• Boil one cup of Bayabas leaves in three cups of water for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool. 
• Use decoction as mouthwash, gargle.
• Use as wound disinfectant - wash affected areas with the decoction of leaves 2 to 3 times a day. Fresh leaves may be applied to the wound directly for faster healing.
• For toothaches, chew the leaves in your mouth.
• For diarrhea, boil the chopped leaves for 15 minutes in water, and strain. Let cool, and drink a cup every three to four hours.
• To stop nosebleed, densely roll Bayabas leaves, then place in the nostril cavities.

·        Avocado
Avocado Nutrition Information
Avocado is a fruit and a tree. It often said to be the most nutritious fruit in the world - and it is. Avocado provides more than 25 essential nutrients such as protein, potassium, vitamin E, C, B-vitamins, folic acid, iron, copper, phosphorus and magnesium, just to name a few. Avocado also provides calories for energy and beneficial phytochemicals such as beta-sitosterol, glutathione and lutein.

Avocado contains fat, that is why it is a good source of energy, but the fat in avocado is mostly monounsaturated. What should be avoided or reduced is saturated fat that is present in most dairy and animal products. In fact, avocado helps in the absorption of nutrients that are fat-soluble such as alpha and beta-carotene and lutein, when food containing this nutrients are eaten with avocado. Avocado is also high in fiber that is good for the digestive system and the heart.

Overall, avocado is considered a complete food. With vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, calories and fiber with no cholesterol and is sodium free. Avocado is ideal for growing up children, adults and even for babies, especially when blended with other fruits. For athletes, avocado is a nutritious energy booster to rev up the body's strength.

Avocado can be eaten as is, mixed with other fruits, as salad, a shake, baked in breads and even made into a dip. In the Philippines, ripe avocado is often eaten as a snack by scooping from flesh from the skin then mixed with a some sugar and milk or cream. It is simply delicious! 


·        Lagundi
Lagundi (scientific name: Vitex negundo) is a shrub that grows in the Philippines. It is one of the ten herbal medicines endorsed by the Philippine Department of Health as an effective herbal medicine with proven therapeutic value. Commonly known in the Ilocos region as dangla, lagundi has been clinically tested to be effective in the treatment of colds, flu, bronchial asthma, chronic bronchitis, and pharyngitis. Studies have shown that Lagundi can prevent the body's production of leukotrienes, which are released during an asthma attack. Lagundi contains Chrysoplenol D, a substance with anti-histamine and muscle relaxant properties. Even in Japan, lagundi is becoming recognized as an effective herbal medicine, especially since researches have shown that it contains properties that make it an expectorant and it has been reported to function as a tonic as well. More than that, most of the parts of the lagundi plant have medicinal value.

The roots of this shrub are also used as treatment for rheumatism, dyspepsia, boils, and leprosy. The leaves, flowers, seeds, and root of Lagundi can all be used as herbal medicine. A decoction is made by boiling the parts of the plant and taken orally. Today, Lagundi is available in capsule form and syrup for cough. For its part, the flowers are recommended as a cardiac tonic, as cure for liver diseases, and other internal disorders such as diarrhea and cholera. The lagundi plant also has anti-inflammatory functions, and its cooling effects are ideal as treatment for skin diseases such as leprosy.

Plant Description: The Lagundi plant can grow up to five meters tall. It can be described as a cross between a shrub and a tree with a single woody stem (trunk). One of Lagundi's distinctive features is its pointed leaves with five leaflets set like a hand.

Preparation & Use:

• Boil half cup of chopped fresh or dried leaves in 2 cups of water for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink half cup three times a day.
• For skin diseases or disorders, apply the decoction of leaves and roots directly on skin.
• The root is specially good for treating dyspepsia, worms, boils, colic and rheumatism.
Herbal Benefits of Lagundi:

• Relief of asthma & pharyngitis
• Recommended relief of rheumatism, dyspepsia, boils, diarrhea 
• Treatment of cough, colds, fever and flu and other bronchopulmonary disorders
• Alleviate symptoms of Chicken Pox 
• Removal of worms, and boils

A decoction (boiling in water) of the roots and leaves of Lagundi are applied to wounds, and used as aromatic baths for skin diseases. Boiled seeds are eaten in order to prevent the spreading of toxins and venom from bites of poisonous animals. Juice extracted from the flowers of Lagundi plant is taken in as an aid for disorders like fever, diarrhea, liver disorders, and even cholera. While a decoction of the plant leaves is suggested to be taken by individuals to help increase the flow and production of milk, as well as to induce menstruation.

·        Sambong

Sambong (scientific name: Blumea balsamifera) is an amazing medicinal plant. Coming from the family of Compositae, it goes by several names locally. It is known in the Visayas as bukadkad and as subsob in Ilocos. The plant is a strongly aromatic herb that grows tall and erect. Its height ranges from 1.5 to 3 meters, with stems that grow for up to 2.5 centimeters. It is an anti-urolithiasis and work as a diuretic. It is used to aid the treatment of kidney disorders. The Sambong leaves can also be used to treat colds and mild hypertension. Since it is a diuretic, this herbal medicine helps dispose of excess water and sodium (salt) in the body.

Sambong is one herbal medicine (of ten) approved by the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) as an alternative medicine in treating particular disorders. This plant possesses a multitude of properties that make it worthy of the DOH approval. It functions as an astringent and as an expectorant, and has been found to be anti-diarrhea and anti-spasm. As an astringent, preparations made of sambong leaves may be used for wounds and cuts. It is also suggested to be incorporated to post-partum baths, as well as considerable immersion of particular body areas that are afflicted with pains caused by rheumatism. Its expectorant properties make it as a popular recommendation to be taken in as tea to treat colds

Health Benefits of Sambong:

• Good as a diuretic agent
• Effective in the dissolving kidney stones
• Aids in treating hypertension & rheumatism
• Treatment of colds & fever
• Anti-diarrheic properties
• Anti-gastralgic properties
• Helps remove worms, boils
• Relief of stomach pains
• Treats dysentery, sore throat



·        Physic Nut

The Tuba-tuba Plant (Jatropha curcas) also known as Tubang Bakod in Tagalog, Physic Nut in English or interchangeably tuba-tuba or Jatropha. The latest craze to hit the agri-business in the Philippines. Cultivated primarily for its oil to produce biodiesel. The Tuba-tuba has been planted in the Philippines for quite some time but it was used mainly as fencing since it animals do not eat the leaves -even the insatiable goat would not eat the leaves. The ever increasing price of petroleum prices has triggered interest on the Tuba-tuba or Jatropha.

Jatropha is a drought resistant perennial shrub or small tree that produces seeds up to 35 years but can live up to 50 years. Jatropha grows fast with little or no maintenance and reaches the average height of about 3 meters but it can grow up to 8 meters. 
Tuba-tuba is one of the most promising sources of bio-fuel today. About 30% of the Tuba-tuba nut is composed of oil. 3 kilos of Jatropha seeds can produce about 1 liter of crude Jatropha oil that can then be processed into biodiesel fuel. This oil can be easily be processed into fuel that can replace or mixed with petroleum based diesel to save on imported oil and most importantly increase local employment and help the economy to grow.

Since the Jatropha plant's average height is about three meters, harvesting is easy and the plant can be grown practically anywhere (ordinary soil, sandy, gravely or rocky soil) and adapts easily to different climates. Jatropha is resistant to droughts -it can stand up to two years without rainfall. The tree also has a short gestation period, it will bear a several fruits starting at about 6 months old and be fully fruit bearing between one to two years.

 

 

 

Other Benefits of Planting Tuba-tuba/Jatropha:

- Aside from using the seed oil as biodiesel, the extracted oil can also be used in making soap. 
- The Jatropha/Tuba-tuba leaves can be used for fumigating houses to expel bugs. 
- The root extract of Jatropha plant can be used as yellow die while the bark extract as blue dye. While the seeds when pounded can be used for tanning. 
- The roots, flowers and latex of the Jatropha plant are said to have medicinal properties. 
- Planting Jatropha reduces soil degradation, erosion and deforestation of the countryside.

Planting the Tuba-Tuba:

Irrigated land can be planted with up to 2,500 Jatropha plants per hectare - a spacing or two meters by two meters. But on poor soil, and land dependent only on rainfall, the plants should be spaced further apart. A month or two before the start of rainy season is a good time to plant. Jatropha seeds can directly be planted or 2 to 3 month old seedlings from nurseries can be used. Jatropha seedling or cutting is planted then covered on an up-hill manner to avoid erosion. The plants are watered for two weeks after transplanting. Seeds can usually be harvested 1 year after planting. Potential yield ranges from 1.25 to 12.5 tons of seeds per hectare.

Process of Oil Extraction:

·        Oil is easily extracted from the Tuba-tuba nut by the use of a presser-expeller. This engine driven machine is simple enough to be operated in provinces by village folks. The yield is about 1 liter of oil for every 3 kilos of seeds. The oil is then refined to produce biodiesel.

It has been estimated that for a processing plant (presser-expeller) to be economically viable and have continuous supply of the Jatropha nut, 5,000 hectares of land have to be planted with Jatropha trees. The trees can also be planted on coconut plantations - intercropping the Tuba-tuba/ Jatropha under the coconut trees. With proper weeding, pruning, ploughing and fertilization, up to 20 kilos of seeds can be harvested per tree - up to 0.40 metric tons per hectare for non-irrigated land and up to 2.5 metric tons of seed per year if the land is irrigated. This is a boost for coconut farmers and land owners alike.

In the Philippines, planting of Jatropha or Tuba-tuba is on high gear, more so in Visayas & Mindanao but it can be planted anywhere. The 
Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) is actively promoting its planting to coconut farmers.

With the ever increasing interest in biodiesel fuels, we may one day get used to the idea that fuel for our vehicles was harvested from local plantations instead of using imported oil from the Middle East.

·     Atis

Atis Fruit Information

Atis is the Philippine name for Sweet Sop and Sugar Apple. Atis is a relative to custard apple and belongs to the Annona family. Atis is native to Central America, the Caribbean and northern South America. Atis was introduced to the Philippines during the Spanish times.

Atis is a small tree that grows between 10 to 20 feet high when fully matured with oblong leaves and green heart-shaped fruits with polygonal tubercles. The atis fruit has a white, sweet flesh and black seeds.

The Atis tree is easy to grow. Just plant a seed on almost any soil and atis will grow. However, it requires tropical or near tropical weather. When planted, Atis will begin to bear fruit in about a year's time. It will bear fruit about 3 times a year and the sweetest fruits are those borne during the summer months.

Atis Use as Herbal Medicine

 

• A decoction (boiling in water) of the leaves induces or hastens menstrual flow and used to treat dysentery, colds and fever. The decoction is also used for bathing to alleviate rheumatic pain.
• Crushed leaves are inhaled for dizziness and fainting. 
• The bark of the atis tree is used as a decoction for diarrhoea.
• The root is a strong purgative and used to treat dysentery.
• Infected insect bites can be cured by applying the juice from an unripe atis fruit.

·           Oregano

Oregano (Scientific name: Origanum vulgare) is also known as Wild Marjoram, Mountain Mint, Origanum, Wintersweet and Winter Marjoram. This erectly spreading plant has strong aromatic characteristics, with leaves and stems that are fleshy. The leaves of oregano are heart-shaped, with toothed edges, and which, grow for up to 9 meters in length. In other countries, the plant is primarily used as a culinary ingredient. However, in countries like the Philippines, Oregano is a known herbal medicine for its strong anti-oxidant properties. Oregano contains a rosmarinic acid compound, thymol, and carvacrol that are responsible for its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. Oregano also contains flavinoids, triterpenoids, sterols, vitamin C, and vitamin A. Its anti-bacterial properties have been proven by recent studies to treat infections of the reproductive tracts, and which make it ideal to be given to women who have just given birth.

The volatile oils in oregano and its properties are believed to be responsible for slowing the process of spoilage of food and thus minimizing the risk of ingesting harmful bacteria, parasites and fungi.

The anti-oxidant properties of oregano helps fight free radicals in the body that cause cellular damage and accelerate ageing. Free radicals are believed to be involved with many degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis, atherosclerosis and heart diseases, to name a few.

The most useful parts of this plant are its leaves. The extracts and juices of such are used for asthma, dyspepsia, chronic coughs, bronchitis, and rheumatism. Ear aches have also been proven to be cured by the infusion prepared from its leaves. The leaves relieve painful swellings, boils, and sprains, when their poultices are applied directly to the affected area

Health Benefits of Oregano:

• Good for cough and cold relief
• Helps prevent degenerative arthritis
• Has Anti-aging properties
• Helps relieve rheumatism and osteoarthritis
• Bronchitis herbal remedy
• Ease asthma attacks
• Relieves upset stomach
• Treatment of urinary tract problems
• Relief for dyspepsia or indigestion
• Healing wounds, insect bites & stings
• Cure for sore throat
• Avoid infections caused by childbirth by taking decoctions of the leaves by the recent mother.
• For general good health

Preparation of Oregano Leaves:

• Boil one cup of fresh leaves in 3 cups of water for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink half a cup 3 times a day for common colds.
• For a concentrate, juice the oregano leaves and take 1 tablespoon every hour to relieve chronic coughs, rheumatism, bronchitis, asthma, and dyspepsia.
• For Insect bites, wounds and stings, apply the leaves as a poultice directly on the afflicted area.
• For sore throat, boil 2 tablespoonfuls of dried oregano leaves in a pint of water, take 2 hours before or after meals.
• To prevent degenerative arthritis & for general good health drink oregano decoction daily.

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