No Suki Card needed

Published January 24, 2022, 12:02 AM

by Jaime Laya

Wala Lang

I was not exactly a nimble kid and was forever tripping, falling, and bumping into something immovable. Rarely was I without a taped or bandaged body part. We had that red stuff mercurochrome and agua oxigenada, but Lola Trining and Tia Juli were into leaves—boiled guava leaves for scraped shins and knees and heated kataká-taká (literally, “puzzling”) leaves for bukol. Kataká-taká was also on my forehead when I had a fever and heated soro-soro leaves were squeezed into my ears when that ached.  

Lagundî was Nanay’s cure-all, good for coughs and a long list of ailments. (I came across a notice recently that it also helps in COVID!). As head of DepEd’s School Health and Nutrition Center, one of her pet projects was a medicinal plant garden in every public school so that ordinary schoolchildren ailments could be cured at no cost.

Some common Philippine medicinal plants and their uses are described below. There are different methods of preparation and dosages and the described procedures may not be suitable in all cases. As in prescription medicines, a qualified herbal doctor should be consulted before proceeding. 

HERBAL REMEDY Kataká-taká (from Madulid et. al., Philippine Herbs)

Wounds, scabies, and other skin problems

Bayabas (guava). Boiled leaves are used as a disinfectant to treat wounds and as a mouthwash to treat gum infections and tooth decay. For scabies (an itchy rash caused by a mite) and infected wounds, water boiled with one or two handfuls of young leaves are used to wash the affected areas twice a day.  

Sábila (aloe vera) treats burns, cuts, eczema, and other skin problems. It also has antiviral, antifungal, antibiotic, antioxidant, and antiparasitic properties and not least, helps in hair growth.

Pansít-pansitan is used to treat arthritis, gout, skin disorders, abdominal pains, and kidney problems. It is applied to the skin as poultice or boiled in water and drunk. To control uric acid and for gout, one cup of leafy tops is consumed as a salad with each meal. Alternatively, three cups of leaves can be boiled in one-and-a-half glasses of water until the water is reduced to half. A third of the liquid is drunk after each day’s meal.

Intestinal worms

Niyog-niyogan. Its dried seeds, chewed and eaten, gets rid of intestinal worms. Children are typically advised to chew and eat five to seven dried seeds and adults, eight to 10 seeds, two hours after eating, with a repeat after a week if necessary. Roasted leaves help ease fevers and diarrhea while pounded leaves treat skin diseases.

Asthma, coughs, and emphysema.

Lagundî. Crushed leaves are boiled with two cups of water until only half the liquid remains. The pot’s cover should be removed when the water begins to boil. Teenagers and adults are advised to take six tablespoons of the boiled leaves. It is also good for the treatment of dyspepsia (a digestion problem), worms, colic, rheumatism, and boils. 

High blood sugar and diabetes

Ampalayá. A cup of leaves would be consumed twice a day in a salad or as ingredient of a dish. It can also be taken boiled, i.e., two cups of ampalayá sprouts in two glasses of water until only half of the water is left. A third of the liquid would be drunk 30 minutes before breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Alternatively, one can boil together for 15 minutes the leaves of ampalayá (seven leaves), banabá (three leaves), camote (seven leaves), and duhat (three leaves), and drink the liquid before breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Cholesterol and gall stones

Luyang Dilaw (Turmeric). Three finger-size pieces of turmeric are boiled with three banabá leaves for 15 minutes in six glasses of water. The water is divided into three portions and drunk in the morning, at noon, and in the afternoon.


Luya (Ginger) is antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antiviral, diuretic, and antiseptic.

Sambóng is used to treat kidney disorders, colds, fever, rheumatism, hypertension, and other ailments. Boiled in water, it helps get rid of kidney stones. Sambóng leaves are boiled in two glasses of water until only half the liquid is left. Divided into three parts, the liquid is drunk three times during the day.  

Yerba Buena is a vine of the mint family. It is a pain reliever and can be boiled in water and drunk or pounded with a little water and applied directly as a poultice to the afflicted area.

Notes: (a) This article is based on Domingo Madulid et. al., Philippine Herbs (ArtPostAsia Inc., 2017) and the Directory of Herbs of the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care; (b) Mercury Drug’s Suki Card entitles bearers to a point-based discount; (c) New plants sprout from kataká-taká leaves, hence the name; and (d) The Department of Education’s School Health and Nutrition Center was once headed by your columnist’s mother Silvina del Carmen Laya.  Among others, the center took charge of the USAID school feeding program featuring “nutribuns.” 

Comments are cordially invited, addressed to [email protected]