Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The 10 Best Philippine Medicinal Plants

Posted with permission from the author, Jaime Z. Galvez Tan MD, MPH
Professor, University of the Philippine College of Medicine


Scientific Names

Vitex negundo Linn.
Vitex leucoxylon Blanco.

Common Name

Lagundi (Ibn., Tag., Bik., P. Bis.)

English Name

Five-leaved Chaste Tree

and Other Names

Dabtan (If.), Dangla (Ilk.), Kamalan (Tag.), Liñgei (Bon.), Limo-limo (Ilk.), Sagarai (Bag.), Turagay (Bis.), Agno-casto (Span.

The Plant
Lagundi is an erect, branched tree or shrub, 2 to 5 meters in he
ight. Its leaves are usually five-foliate, palmately-arranged, rarely with 3 leaflets. The middle leaflet is larger than the others and distinctly stalked. The numerous flowers are blue to lavender, 6 to 7 millimeters long. The fruit is globose, black when ripe, about 4 millimeters in diameter.

The plant is widely distributed in the Philippines at low and medium altitudes, in thickets and in waste places; it flowers year-round. It also occurs in tropical East Africa, Madagascar, India to Japan, and southward through Malaya to western Polynesia.

Medicinal Uses
The leaves, bark, roots and seeds of Lagundi are used for medicinal purp
oses by Filipino traditional healers as an antiseptic. Modern-day use takes advantage of the plant’s antitussive and anti-inflammatory properties.

Folkloric Uses
The first record of the use of Lagundi as medicine was made by a priest, who affirmed that Lagundi leaves and seeds were used by Filipinos to disinfect wounds and in cleansing ulcers. The leaves are likewise used in aromatic baths to prevent insect bites. Alternatively, the seeds are boiled in water and eaten, or the water is drunk, to prevent the spreading of toxin from bites.

Oil prepared with the juice of plant parts can be rubbed onto the sinuses and to scrofulous sores of the neck. It is found to effect marvelous cures of sloughing wounds and ulcers. There is a very noteworthy account of the cure with this oil of an old and deep gangrenous wound in the arm of a patient. This patient was given up by allopathic doctors after three months of medical treatment, cure having been considered hopeless without amputation of the arm.

According to some authors, febrile, catarrhal, and rheumatic affections can be treated using different preparations of plant plants. A tincture of the root-bark is recommended in cases of rheumatism. The powdered root is prescribed for hemorrhoids as a demulcent, and also for dysentery. In Indo-China, a decoction of the root is prescribed for intermittent fevers.

The leaves are known to reduce inflammatory and rheumatic swellings of the joints and swellings of the testes due to gonorrheal epidymitis and orchitis. They are also effective for sprained limbs, contusions, and leech bites; the fresh leaves are put into an earthen pot, heated over a fire, and applied as hot as can be borne without pain; or the leaves are bruised and applied as a poultice to the affected part. A pillow stuffed with the leaves is placed under the head for relief of catarrh and headache. A decoction of the leaves as a warm bath in the puerperal state of women who suffer much from after-pains has also been described.

Common Kitchen Preparations
Decoction for fever and toothaches: boil 6 tablespoons of the chopped leaves in 2 glasses of water for 15 minutes; strain and cool. Divide the decoction in 3 parts and take one part
every 3-4 hours. For asthma and cough, take 1/4 of the decoction three times a day. For aromatic bath or sponge bathing: boil 4 handfuls of leaves in a pot of water for 5 minutes; use the lukewarm decoction for sponge bathing.

Treatment of Cough, Asthma,
Anti-Inflammatory, and Anti-Convulsant Properties

Lagundi has been proven to be an effective antitussive (prepared as a pleasant-tasting cough syrup) and has been considered as a replacement for dextromethorphan in the public health system. Studies have shown benefit through reduction of coughing and relaxation of the bronchial smooth muscles. As such, the plant is being promoted by the
Department of Health (DOH) for cough and asthma. It is actually one of a few herbs recently registered with the Bureau of Foods and Drugs (BFAD) in the Philippines as medicines and is already available locally commercially in tablet form (Ascof by AlterMed/Pascual Laboratories), teas, and syrup.

The antitussive and anti-asthma effects of Lagundi are attributed to its anti-inflammatory activity. Observations from an experimental study revealed that the fresh leaves of Vitex negundo have anti-inflammatory and pain-suppressing activities possibly mediated via prostaglandin synthesis inhibition, antihistamine, membrane-stabilizing and antioxidant activities. The antihistamine activity can produce the anti-itching effect claimed in Ayurveda medicine of the herbal medicine (Dharmasiri et al, 2003).

Another study conducted in India has confirmed the potentiation of anti-inflammatory activities of drugs phenylbutazone and ibuprofen by Vitex negundo, indicating that it may be useful as an adjuvant therapy along with standard antiinflammatory drugs (Tandon and Gupta, 2006).

The same researchers conducted a study in 2005 on the anticonvulsant activity of Vitex negundo and observed that although the Vitex negundo is not as effective as standard drugs in protecting against maximal electroshock seizures in rats, it showed 50% protection in clonic seizures and 24-hour mortality against pentylenetetarazole-induced seizures. Vitex negundo was also found to potentiate the anticonvulsant action of diphenylhydantoin and valporic acid, thus it may be useful as an adjuvant therapy along with standard anticonvulsants and can possibly be used to lower the requirement of diphenylhydantoin and valporic acid.


Tandon VR, Gupta RK. An experimental evaluation of anticonvulsant activity of Vitex negundo.

Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2005 Apr;49(2):199-205.

MEDLINE Citations
Tandon VR, Gupta RK. Vitex negundo Linn (VN) leaf extract as an adjuvant therapy to standard anti-inflammatory drugs
Indian J Med Res. 2006 Oct;124(4):447-50.

PMID: 17159267 [PubMed - indexed for MED
Dharmasiri MG, Jayakody JR, Galhena G, Liyanage SS, Ratnasooriya WD.
Anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities of mature fresh leaves of Vitex negundo.
J Ethnopharmacol. 2003 Aug;87(2-3):199-206.

PMID: 17159267 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


Scientific Names

Blumea balsamifera (Linn.) DC.

Conya balsamifera Linn.

Common Name

Sambong (Tag.)

English Names

Blumea Camphor

Ngai Camphor Plant

and Other Names

Alibum (P. Bis.), Alimon (P. Bis.), Ayoban (Bis.), Bukadkad (S. L. Bis.), Bukodkud (Bis.), Dalapot (C. Bis.), Gabuen (Bis.), Gintin-gintin (Bis.), Hamlibon (Bis.), Kaliban (Tagb.), Kalibura (Tagb.), Kambibon (Bis.), Labulan (Sub.), Lakad-bulan (Bis., Sul.), Lalakdan (Bis.), Lakdanbulan (Bis.), Sambun (Sul.), Sambong (Tag.), Sob-sob (Ilk.), Subusub (Ilk.), Subsob (Ilk.), Sobosob (Ig.), Takamain (Bag.)

The Plant
Sambong is a tall, softly hairy, half woody, strongly
aromatic shrub, 1 to 4 meters high. It has simple, alternate, broadly elongated leaves, 7 to 20 centimeters long, with toothed margin. The plant has two types of discoid flowers: peripheral ones are tiny and more numerous; central flowers are few and large. The fruit is dry, single-seeded, 10-ribbed, and hairy at the top.

Sambong is found from northern Luzon to Palawan and Mindanao, in all or most island provinces. It is usually common in open grasslands and fields at low and medium altitudes. It is also reported from India to southern China and through Malaya to the Moluccas. It flowers from February to April. The leaves are sometimes smoked in Sumatra in place of Indian hemp.

Medicinal Uses
Parts of the plant have folkloric medicinal use as a vulnerary (for the treatment of wounds), antidiarrheal, antigastralgic, expectorant, antispasmodic
, astringent, and anthelmintic. Recently, the plant has found new use as a diuretic and in the treatment of renal stones and in the management of gout. The leaves contain primarily contain oil and camphor. The leaves are official in the Dutch and Indian Pharmacopeias.

Folkloric Uses
The juice of the powdered leaves is used traditionally in the treatment of wounds. They can also be applied to the forehead to relieve headache. An infusion is used as a bath for women in childbirth, while a tea is made from the leaves is used for stomach pains. A decoction of the leaves can be used as an antidiarrheal and antigastralgic. The decoction is used also for aromatic baths in rheumatism.

The plant is in very general use among the Javanese and Chinese as an expectorant. Several European doctors practicing in Asia in the past had reported that they had repeatedly employed it in catarrhal affections. There are reports that the fresh juice of the leaves is dropped into the eyes for chronic, purulent discharges. Internally, the decoction is both astringent and anthelmintic. It is given for worms and also in dysentery and chronic uterine discharges. In the case of fever, a decoction of the leaves is often given, or a decoction of the leaves and roots together. A lotion made from boiled leaves is used as a sitz bath for lower back pain (lumbago) and rheumatism, for bathing women after childbirth, and for soothing the skin of children.

Common Kitchen Preparations
For fever: decoction of roots; boil 2 to 4 handfuls of the leaves. Use the lukewarm decoction as a sponge bath. For gaseous distention: boil 2 teaspoons of the chopped leaves in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes. Drink the decoction while warm. Also used for upset stomach. Can
also be used for mothers' bath after childbirth. As diuretic: boil 2 tablespoons of chopped leaves in 2 glasses of water for 15 minutes. Take half of the decoction after every meal, 3 times a day.

Treatment of Renal Stones, Hypertension, and Gout
The new use of the medicinal plant is as a diuretic and for dissolution of renal stones. It can be used in hypertension and fluid retention states. Some clinical studies, including double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized studies have shown encouraging results for Sambong to be both safe and effective in the treatment of kidney stones and hypertension. The National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) has promoted the use of this herbal medicine for many renal patients to avert or delay the need for dialysis or organ transplantation
. It is also being promoted by the Department of Health (DOH) for this purpose. It is registered with the Bureau of Foods and Drugs (BFAD) as a medicine, and is available commercially in tablet form (Re-Leaf by Altermed/Pascual Laboratories)

In a pharmacological study of 96 medicinal plants used in Vietnam for the treatment of gout and its associated symptoms, Blumea balsamifera was found to have strong xanthine oxidase inhibitory activity (Nguyen et al, 2004).

MEDLINE Citation
Nguyen MT, Awale S, Tezuka Y, Tran QL, Watanabe H, Kadota S.Xanthine oxidase inhibitory activity of Vietnamese medicinal plants.
Biol Pharm Bull. 2004 Sep;27(9):1414-21.
PMID: 15340229 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


Scientific Names

Momordica charantia Linn.

Momordica balsamina Blanco.

Momordica cylindrical Blanco.

Common Name

Ampalaya (Tag.)

English Names

Bitter Gourd

Balsam Apple, Balsam Pear, African Cucumber, Tuberculated Momordica

and Other Names

Amargoso (Span.), Ampalia (Tag.), Apalaya (Tag.), Apalia (Pamp.), Apape (Ibn.), Apapet (Itn.), Margoso (Tag.), Palia (Bis., Bon., If.), Pariu (Bik., Ilk., Sul.), Pulia (Sub.), Saligun (Sul.)

The Plant
Ampalaya is a climbing vine with tendrils growing up t
o 20 centimeters long. The leaves are heart-shaped, 5 to 10 centimeters in diameter, cut into 5 to 7 lobes. The male and female yellow flowers are about 15 millimeters long, long-stalked with pairs of small leaflike bracts at middle or toward base of stalk. The fruit is fleshy and green, oblong with pointed ends, ribbed and wrinkled, bursting when mature to release seeds. Seeds are flat with ruminated margins.

It is a year-round vegetable growing in various places from sea level to higher altitudes. Wild forms are found in wastelands at low and medium altitudes. In the Philippines both the wild (small, ovoid and bitter fruit) and the cultivated form (with elongated and oblong fruit) are eaten. The fruit of the wild form is usually roasted over fire and eaten with salt. That of the cultivated form is eaten as a vegetable with shrimps or meat; sliced, mashed with salt, and washed, it is made into salad with onions and vinegar.

Nutritional Value
Analyses of the fruit show that it is a good source of iron and calcium, and a good source of phosphorus. The fruit and leaves are also excellent sources of vitamin B (sometimes the tender shoots and the leaves are eaten as a vegetable aside from the fruit).
It has twice the amount of beta carotene in broccoli and twice the calcium content of spinach. Despite its bitter taste, extracts from plant parts has become a popular drink for boosting vigor. In fact, the more bitter, the better, as it is believed that the bitterness is proportionate to its potency.

Medicinal Uses
The plant has astringent, vulnerary, antiparasitic, anthelmintic, purgative, emetic, antipyretic, cooling and tonic properties, and is traditionally used for these purposes.

Folkloric Uses
The leaf juice is used for cough and as a purgative and anthelminthic to expel intestinal parasites, and for healing wounds. The vine or the juice of leaves can be used
as a mild purgative for children. Decoction of roots and seeds has been used for urethral discharges.

Pounded leaves are used for scalds and an infusion of leaves or leaf juice can be used for fevers. The whole plant, pulverized, is good externally applied in leprosy and malignant ulcers. It is common to pound the leaves and apply them to skin disease in India, Malaya, and elsewhere in Asia. They are also applied in cases of burns and scalds and as a poultice for headaches. Some authors report that the olive or almond oil infusions of the fruit are applied to chapped hands, hemorrhages, and burns, and that the mashed fruit is used in the preparation of poultices.

It is reported that juice expressed from the green fruit can be given for chronic colitis. It is also found to be good for bacillary dysentery. It is considered tonic and stomachic, and is useful in rheumatism and gout and in diseases of the spleen and liver. It probably acts as an astringent. In India, this astringent is applied externally to hemorrhoids. The sap of the leaves is used as a parasiticide, and the fruit, when macerated in oil, as a vulnerary.

Common Kitchen Preparations
Steam ampalaya tops (upper four leaves) and eat half a cup twice daily. As a decoction, boil six tablespoons of finely chopped leaves in two glasses of water over low fire (for 15 minutes). Drink 1/3 cup, three times a day, 30 minutes before meals. Use clay or enamel pots only.

Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus and Management of Dyslipidemia
Ampalaya is an herb that has recently gained international recognition for its benefits in the treatment of diabetes mellitus. Thus the plant is increasingly recommended as an adjunct or supplement to traditional therapeutic regimens for this condition. It is available commercially in tablet form (Amargozin by Altermed/Pascual Laboratories), in capsule formulation, (Charagen Ampalaya), and as teas.

Recent experimental investigation (2007) with respect to the mechanism of action of Momordica charantia extract in diabetic rats suggest that it enhances insulin secretion by the islets of Langerhans, reduces glycogenesis in liver tissue, enhances peripheral glucose utilisation and increases serum protein levels. Furthermore, treatment restores the altered histological architecture of the islets of Langerhans. Hence, the biochemical, pharmacological and histopathological profiles of Momordica charantia extract clearly indicate its potential antidiabetic activity and other beneficial effects in amelioration of diabetes associated complications. Further, an evaluation of the plant’s antilipidemic activity in old obese rats demonstrated significant lowering of cholesterol and triglyceride levels while elevating HDL-cholesterol levels. Also, the extract lowered serum lipids in diabetic rats, suggesting its usefulness in controlling metabolic alterations associated with diabetes (Fernandes et al, 2007).

MEDLINE Citation
Fernandes NP, Lagishetty CV, Panda VS, Naik SR. An experimental evaluation of the antidiabetic and antilipidemic properties of a standardized Momordica charantia fruit extract.

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2007 Sep 24;7:29.
PMID: 17892543 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


Scientific Names

Peperomia pellucida Linn.

Piper pellucida Linn., Micropiper pellucidum Miq., Peperomia hymenophylla Miq., Peperomia bilineata Miq., Micropiper tenellum Klotz

Common Names



English Name

and Other Names

Ulasimang-bato, Ikmo-ikmohan, Sida-sida, Sinaw-sinaw, Tagulinaw, Tangon-tangon

The Plant
Pansit-pansitan is an annual herb; it is shallow-
rooted, may reach 40 centimeters high, with succulent stems. Leaves are alternate, heart-shaped and turgid, as transparent and smooth as candle wax. Tiny dotlike flowers scatter along solitary and leaf-opposed stalks (spike); naked; maturing gradually from the base to the tip; turning brown when ripe. Numerous tiny seeds drop off when mature and grow easily in clumps and groups in damp areas.

The herb favors shady, damp and loose soil. It often grows in groups in nooks in the garden and yard and conspicuously in rocky parts of canals and stone walls. The leaves and stems may be eaten as vegetable. In salads, the fresh plant has the crispness of carrot sticks and celery.

Medicinal Uses
Traditionally, the plant is used for the treatment of infected wounds and for the management of a variety of dermatologic conditions. It is similarly used in Tropical West Africa for th
is purpose. Recently, the anti-inflammatory activity of the plant has been studied, especially in relation to the treatment of arthritis and gout.

Folkloric Uses
Infusion and decoction of leaves and stems are used for gout and arthritis even by traditional healers. Externally, the plant is used as a facial rinse for acne and complexi
on problems. Pounded whole plant is used as warm poultice for boils, pustules and pimples.

Common Kitchen Preparations
Preparation for arthritis: the leaves and stems of the fresh plant may be eaten as salad. Or, as an infusion, put 20 centimeters of plant material in 2 glasses of boiling water; half a cup of this infusion is taken morning and evening.

Treatment of Arthritis and Gout,
Anti-Inflammatory and Analgesia

The plant belongs to the "preferred list" of Philippine medicinal plants; it is being studied for its use in the treatment of arthritis and gout. An aqueous extract of Peperomia pellucida
when tested for anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity in rats and mice concluded that the plant has anti-inflammatory activity (based on interference with prostaglandin synthesis, as confirmed by the arachidonic acid test), and analgesic activity. Furthermore, the LD(50) showed that Peperomia pellucida had very low toxicity (de Fátima Arrigoni-Blank, 2004).

MEDLINE Citations
de Fátima Arrigoni-Blank M, Dmitrieva EG, Franzotti EM, Antoniolli AR, Andrade MR, Marchioro M. Anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity of Peperomia pellucida (L.) HBK (Piperaceae).
J Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Apr;91(2-3):215-8.
PMID: 15120441 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


Scientific Names

Orthosiphon aristatus (Blume) Miq.

Ocimum aristatum Blume, Orthosiphon stamineus Benth.

Common Names

Balbas-pusa (Tag.)

Kabling-gubat (Tag.)

English Name

Cat’s Whisker

and Other Names

Kabling-parang (Tag.)

Indian kidney tea (Engl.)

The Plant
Balbas-pusa is a slender, smooth or hairy undershrub, 30 to
60 centimeters high. Leaves are in distant pairs, narrowed into the stalk, ovate, 5 to 10 centimters long, pointed at both ends, with coarsely-toothed margins. The flowers are borne in very lax racemes. The calyx is bell-shaped, with a naked throat and two slender lower teeth. The corolla is 2.5 centeimeters long, smooth, white or purplish, slender in the tube, and thrice as long as the calyx. Nutlets are oblong and compressed.

The plant is found in thickets, at low and medium altitudes in the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Bulacan, and Rizal Provinces in Luzon; and in Coron, Palawan. It occurs also in India through Malaya to tropical parts of Australia.

Medicinal Uses
The leaves contain a high percentage of potassium salts (0.7 gra
ms in 100 grams of fresh leaves). From dried leaves, a small amount of volatile oil and a bitter alkaloid, orthosiphonin, is found. The leaves are official in the Pharmacopoeia of Netherland. Traditional folkloric use includes diuresis. Recently, the plant has been studied for its antihypertensive effects.

Folkloric Uses
A decoction of leaves is traditionally used for kidney and bladder problems and other afflictions of the urinary tract, due to its diuretic effect. It is similarly used in the treatment of diseases of the kidney and bladder in Java and Malaysia, and in Holland and France. The high potassium content and the orthosiphonin are postulated to act on the kidneys.

Antihypertensive Action
Recent studies isolating methylripariochromene A (MRC) from the leaves of Orthosiphon aristatus indicate that the plant or its MRC component possesses some actions related to a decrease in blood pressure (vasodilating action, a decrease in cardiac output, and diuretic action) when administered to stroke-prone hypertensive rats. These studies
confirm the traditional use of the plant in Javanese traditional medicine for the management of hypertension and for diuresis (Matsubara et al, 1999 and Ohashi et al, 2000).

MEDLINE Citations
Matsubara T, Bohgaki T, Watarai M, Suzuki H, Ohashi K, Shibuya H. Antihypertensive actions of methylripariochromene A from Orthosiphon aristatus, an Indonesian traditional medicinal plant.
Biol Pharm Bull. 1999 Oct;22(10):1083-8.
PMID: 10549860 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Ohashi K, Bohgaki T, Shibuya H. [Antihypertensive substance in the leaves of kumis kucing (Orthosiphon aristatus)in Java Island]
Yakugaku Zasshi. 2000 May;120(5):474-82. Review. Japanese.
PMID: 10825811 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


Scientific Names

Curcuma longa Linn.

Curcuma xanthorrhiza Naves

Common Name

Luyang Dilaw (Tag.)

English Name

Long Tumeric

and Other Names

Angay (Pamp.), Dilaw (Tag.), Dulaw (S.L. Bis.), Kalabaga (Bis.), Kalawag (Mbo., Bis.), Kalauag (Mbo., Bis.), Kinamboy (Bis.), Kinamboi (Bis.), Kulalo (Bis.), Kulyaw (Ilk.), Kunig (Ilk.), Kunik (Ibn.), Lampuyang (P. Bis.), Lawag (Sub.), Pangar (Pamp.), Pangas (Pamp.), Parak (Kuy.), Salampawyan (Bag.), Salampauyan (Bag.)

The Plant
The plant is leafy, 1 to 1.5 meters tall and with 5 to 6 leaves. The rhizome is bright yellow inside, thick and cylindric. Leaves are green, the blade oblong, 30 to 45 centimeters long and 1
0 to 15 centimeters wide. The petioles are as long as the blade. Flowers have a peduncle 15 centimeters or more in length and borne within the tuft of leaves. There are spikes 10 to 20 centimeters in length and about 5 meters in diameter. Floral bracts are pale green, ovate, 3 to 4 cm long, coma bracts tinged with pink. Flowers pale yellow, as long as the bracts.

The plant is widely distributed in the Philippines in and about towns, sometimes in open waste places and sometimes planted. The utilized part, the rhizome, can be collected the whole year round. Luyang Dilaw rhizomes are commonly sold in the Manila markets, and are used as a condiment, as an ingredient of curry powder, and for coloring food and other materials. Turmeric is one of the best known of material dyes, being used for dyeing silk, wool, and cotton.

Medicinal Uses
The rhizome contains volatile, fat, starch, resin, and curcumin pigment. It is pungent and bitter tasting, warming, thus is said to improve Qi circulation in traditional Chinese medicine. The plant is believed to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cholesterol-lowering, and anti-carcinogenic activity. Its anti-inflammatory activity has been compared to topical hydrocortisone and has recently been studied to treat gastritis and gastric ulcers. The plant is approved by German health authorities for the treatment of dyspeptic complaints.

The rhizomes have been reported official in the following Pharmacopoeias: Austrian, Belgian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Indian, Mexican, Norwegian, Rumanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish, Swiss, United States, and Venezuelan.

Folkloric Uses
The plant is traditionally used for fevers, dysentery, abdominal pain, flatulence, abdominal spasm, and arthritis. For these indications, a decoction of the rhizome is taken as tea. Other uses include the treatment of menstrual irregularities, as an anti-contusion and analgesic for its associated painful swelling. Crushed rhizome can be applied as an antiseptic for wounds. Externally, rhizomes can also be applied to insect bites, ringworm, bleeding.

In India, the juice of the fresh rhizome is applied externally to recent wounds, bruises, and leech-bites. Mixed with gingerly oil, it is applied to the body to prevent skin eruptions. Turmeric paste mixed with a little lime and saltpeter and applied hot is a popular application to sprains and bruises. In smallpox and chickenpox a coating of turmeric powder or thin paste is applied to facilitate the process of scabbing. Other reports indicate that the plant can be used for ringworm and other parasitic skin diseases, in purulent conjunctivitis, in catarrhal and purulent ophthalmia, and in neuralgia and rheumatism.

Traditional Chinese medicine dictates that the plant improves Qi (chi) circulation. In Chinese parlance, Qi means 'spirit.' In this system, good health is synonymous with free-flowing energy through meridian pathways. A blocked Qi flow is associated with disease or ill-health. Luyang dilaw is said to improve circulation, thus avoiding blocked Qi and disease states.

Common Kitchen Preparations
For wounds and swelling as ointment: Wash the unpeeled ginger. Chop the rhizomes to fill half a glass of water. Sauté with one glass of coconut oil on low heat for five minutes. Place in a clean bottle and label. As antiseptic for wounds: Extract juice of the fresh rhizome and apply directly on the wound or swelling. For gas pain in adults: Decoction from thumb-
sized rhizome in a glass of water reduced to half.

Treatment of Dyspepsia and Peptic Ulcers
It was observed in recent studies that when Curcuma longa extract was administered to rats, it reduced gastric acid secretion and protected against the formation of gastric mucosal lesions. Findings suggest that the extract from Curcuma longa specifically inhibits gastric acid secretion by blocking H2 histamine receptors in a competitive manner (Kim et al, 2005).

In a randomized, double-blind study, it showed significant alleviation of the symptoms of acid dyspepsia, flatulent dyspepsia or atonic dyspepsia. Two other clinical trials tested C. longa in the treatment of peptic ulcers and demonstrated that administered orally it promoted ulcer healing and decreased abdominal pain.1

Anti-inflammatory Properties
The major active component of Curcuma longa, cucurmin, was also investigated as an anti-inflammatory drug in two double blind studies with phenylbutazone, and was found to significantly improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and reduc
e post-operative inflammation.1

Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease
Dietary cucurmin was also found to decrease the biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative damage and to decrease amyloid plaque burden in the brain and amyloid beta-induced memory deficits in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease. Cucurmin injected peripherally was demonstrated to cross the blood-brain barrier in an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease, but it is not yet known if cucurmin taken orally can cross the blood brain barrier and inhibit the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in humans. The results are nevertheless promising and several human clinical trials are currently under way. 2

WHO Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants
, Vol. 1, 1999, World Health Organization,
Geneva.Higdon, J. Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University. 2006. lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/phytochemicals/curcumin

MEDLINE Citation

Kim DC, Kim SH, Choi BH, Baek NI, Kim D, Kim MJ, Kim KT.

Curcuma longa extract protects against gastric ulcers by blocking H2 histamine receptors.
Biol Pharm Bull. 2005 Dec;28(12):2220-4.
PMID: 16327153 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


Scientific Name

Centella asiatica Linn.
Hydrocotyle asiatica Linn.

Common Name


English Name

Pennyworth, Gotu Kola, Asian pennywort, Indian pennywort, Indian hydrocotyle

and Other Names

Hahanghalo (C. Bis.), Panggaga (Sub.), Pispising (Bon.), Tagaditak (Iv.), Takip-suso (Tag.), Taingan-daga (Tag.), Tapiñgan-daga (Tag.), Yahong-yahong (S-L. Bis.), Chi-hsueh Ts'ao (Chin.

The Plant
Takip-kohol is a prostrate, creeping, sparingly hairy or nea
rly smooth perennial herb. The stems are rooting at the nodes, delicate, slender and creeping. The leaves are rounded to reniform, 2 to 5 centimeters wide, horizontal, more or less cupped, rounded at the tip, and kidney-shaped or heart-shaped at the base, palmately veined, margins undulate-crenate, with the rounded lobes often overlapping. Petioles are erect, 3 to 20 centimeters long. Flowers are purple and axillary, ovate, and about 1 centimeter long. Peduncles occur in pairs or threes, less than 1 centimeter long and usually bear 3 sessile flowers. The plant flowers from October to May.

The plant is found in gardens, thickets, open, damp grasslands, on rice paddy banks, and streams throughout the Philippines. The entire plant can be used for medicinal purposes and can be gathered throughout the year. It is a rich source of Vitamin B and can be eaten as a salad or a vegetable dish.

Medicinal Use
Chemical analysis of the plant shows the presence of vallarine, high vitamin
B content in the leaves and roots, and a miscellany of other constituents such as carbohydrates, resins, proteins, ash, alkali, alkaline salts, phosphates, and tannins. The leaves are official in the following Pharmacopoeias: Dutch, French, Mexican, Spanish, and Venezuelan, Indian. The stem and leaves are official in the Materia Medica of the ancient Chinese.

Folkloric Uses
The plant has been used in the treatment of infectious hepatitis, measles, respiratory tract infections - colds, tonsillitis, laryngopharyngitis, bronchitis. For these indications, fresh or dried material is taken in the form of decoction. As a counterirritant, the plant is pound, mixed with vaseline or oil and applied over affected area as poultice. In India and Fiji, roots are used for foreskin inflammation, to improve blood circulation, to treat bloating, congestion and depression.

The leaves of Takip-kohol have been widely regarded as having tonic and stimulant properties and have been recommended for many complaints. The plant is reputed to have a direct action on lowering blood pressure. It is also known as a rejuvenating medicament. For this, the leaves are sometimes eaten raw, but more usually a decoction or tea is made from them.

According to some reports, judging from its physiological action, the drug should be principally valuable as a stimulant to the cutaneous circulation in skin diseases; and, indeed, for this purpose it is chiefly employed. It is thus useful in the treatment of chronic and obstinate eczema. It has also been prescribed with excellent results in cases of secondary and tertiary syphilis accompanied by gummatous infiltration and ulceration, in chronic and callous ulcers, as a stimulant to healthy mucous secretion in infantile diarrhea, in cases of scrofulous ulceration and enlargement of glands and abscess, and in chronic rheumatism.

Cognitive-enhancing, Neuroprotective, and Anti-oxidant Properties
The plant is considered to be a brain and memory stimulant, and may be used for Alzheimer's disease and senility. In one study, Centella asiatica has been described as possessing central nervous system activity, such as improving intelligence. In addition, the study confirms the cognitive-enhancing and anti-oxidant properties of extracts of the plant in normal rats. These findings are significant since oxidative stress or an impaired endogenous
anti-oxidant mechanism is an important factor that has been implicated in Alzheimer's disease and cognitive deficits seen in the elderly humans (Veerendra and Gupta, 2003). As such, the plant has been recognized by scientists as a nootropic, cognitive, and neuroprotective with fewer undesirable effects and the same effectiveness as the classic therapy for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia (Cervenka and Jahodár, 2006).

Treatment of Burns, Wounds, Ulcers, and Venous Insufficiency
Extracts of the Centella asiatica applied topically have been shown to effectively treat second- and third-degree burns, chronic infected skin ulcers, indolent leg ulcers, and perforated leprotic leg lesions, and accelerate healing in post-surgical and post-trauma wounds. Oral administration of extracts of Centella asiatica have been used to successfully treat peptic and duodenal ulcers, with 93% improvement in subjective symptoms and with healed ulcers in 73% of subjects evidenced endoscopically and radiologically. Centella asiatica extracts taken orally also significantly improved venous distension and edema in patients suffering from venous insufficiency.

The WHO monograph recommends an oral dose of 0.33-0.68g or by oral infusion of similar amount three times daily.

WHO Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants, Vol. 1, 1999, World Health Organization, Geneva.

MEDLINE Citations
Cervenka F, Jahodár L. [Plant metabolites as nootropics and cognitives]
Ceska Slov Farm. 2006 Sep;55(5):219-29. Review. Czech.
PMID: 17128592 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Veerendra Kumar MH, Gupta YK. Effect of Centella asiatica on cognition and oxidative stress in an intracerebroventricular streptozotocin model of Alzheimer's disease in rats.
Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2003 May-Jun;30(5-6):336-42.
PMID: 12859423 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


Scientific Names

Lagerstroemia speciosa Linn.

Munchausia speciosa Linn., Lagestroemia reginae Roxb., Lagerstroemia flos-reginae Retz.

Common Name

Banaba (Tag.)

English Name

and Other Names

Agaro (Sbl.), Bugarom (S. L. Bis.), Duguam (S. KL. Bis.), Kauilan (P. Bis.), Makablos (Pang.), Mitla (Pamp.), Nabulong (Neg.), Pamalauagon (S. L. Bis.), Pamarauagon (S. L. Bis.), Parasabukung (Sub.), Tabangau (Ibn., Neg.), Tauagnau (Ibn

The Plant
Banaba is a deciduous tropical flowering tree, 5 to 10 meters high, but sometimes growing to a height of 20 meters. The leaves are large, spatulate, oblong to elliptic-ova
te, 2-4 inches in width, 5-8 inches in length. The plant sheds its leaves the first months of the year. Before shedding, the leaves are bright orange or red during which time it is thought to contain higher levels of corrosolic acid. Flowers are racemes, pink to lavender; flowering from March to June. After flowering, the tree bears large clumps of oval nutlike fruits.

The plant grows wild and is widely distributed in the Philippines, in the secondary forests at low and medium altitudes. It is also usually cultivated for its beautiful flowers. It is also reported to occur in India to southern China and southward through Malaya to tropical Australia.

Medicinal Uses
The plant is rich in tannin; the fruit has 14 to 17 %; leaves, 13 %; bark, 10%. Traditionally, the plant is used in the treatment of stomach ailments. Recently, the plant’s corrosolic acid content is being studied for glucose lowering effect.

Folkloric Use
Roots have been used for a variety of stomach ailments. Leaf decoction is used for diabetes; also as a diuretic and purgative. For this, a decoction of old leaves and dri
ed fruit (dried from one to two weeks) is mixed to 50 grams to a pint of boiling water; 4 to 6 cups daily has been used for diabetes. Old leaves and ripe fruit are preferred, which are believed to have greater glucose lowering effect. A decoction of 20 grams of old leaves or dried fruit in 100 cc of water was found to have the equivalent effect to that of 6 to 7.7 units of insulin.

Bark decoction has been used for the treatment of diarrhea. The bark, flowers and leaves are used to facilitate bowel movements. A decoction of fruits or roots can be gargled for aphthous stomatitis, while a decoction of leaves and flowers can be used for fevers and as diuretic. Leaf decoction or infusion is usually used for bladder and kidney inflammation, dysuria, and other urinary complaints.

Treatment of Diabetes and Obesity

Banaba is being studied for its application in the treatment of diabetes. Its ability to lower blood sugar is attributed to its corrosolic acid content. The plant is commercially available as tablets, extracts, capsules, powders and teas.

Studies in mice suggest that extracts of Lagerstroemia speciosa have beneficial effects on control of the level of plasma glucose in non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, for example, hemoglobin A1C was found to be suppressed at the end of the experiment in the group treated with Banaba extract (Kakuda et al, 1996). Mice fed with Banaba extract also showed a significant decrease, to 65% of the control level in total hepatic lipid contents. This decrease was attributed by the studies to a reduction in the accumulation of triglyceride. These results suggest that Lagerstroemia speciosa has antiobesity effects as well (Suzuki et al, 1999).

MEDLINE Citations
Kakuda T, Sakane I, Takihara T, Ozaki Y, Takeuchi H, Kuroyanagi M. Hypoglycemic effect of extracts from Lagerstroemia speciosa L. leaves in genetically diabetic KK-AY mice
Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 1996 Feb;60(2):204-8.
Suzuki Y, Unno T, Ushitani M, Hayashi K, Kakuda T. Antiobesity activity of extracts from Lagerstroemia speciosa L. leaves on female KK-Ay mice

J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 1999 Dec;45(6):791-5.
PMID: 10737232 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


Scientific Names

Moringa oleifera Lam.

Moringa nux-ben Perr., Moringa pterygosperma Gaertn., Guilandina moringa Linn.

Common Name

Malunggay (Tag.)

English Names

Ben Oil Tree

Horseradish Tree

and Other Names

Arunggai (Pang.), Balungai (P. Bis.), Dool (Bik.), Kamalongan (P. Bis.), Kalamungai (C. Bis.), Kalungai (Bik., Bis., Tag.), Kalunggay (Bik.), Kamalungai (Pamp., Tag.), Komkompilan (Ilk.), Molongai (Tag.), Malunggue (Pamp.), Malungit (Pamp., Bis.), Maroñgoi (Sbl.), Maruñgaai (Ilk., Ibn.)

The Plant
Malunggay grows as high as 9 meters; it has a soft, white wood and a corky, gummy bark. Root has the taste of horseradish. Each compound leaf contains 3-9 very thin leaflets dispersed on a compound (3 times pinnate) stalk. Flowers are white and fragrant, producing long, pendulous, 9-ribbed pods.

The plant was probably introduced from Malaya or some other part of tropical Asia in prehistoric times. It is now grown throughout the Philippines in settled areas as a backyard vegetable and as a border plant. It is drought resistant and grows in practically all kinds of well-drained soils. The plant conserves water by shedding leaves during the dry season.

Nutritional Use
The flowers, leaves and pods can be eaten as a vegetable. It is a good source of calcium, iron, phosphorus and vitamins A, B and C. The plant comparatively has 7 times the vitamin C in oranges, 4 times the calcium and twice the protein in milk, 4 times the vitamin A in carrots, and 3 times the potassium in bananas.

Medicinal Uses
The major component is ben oil (36%). The seeds are official in the French Pharmacopoeia and the seed oil in the French and Danish Pharmacopoeias. Folkloric use of Malunggay is recognized for a dozen of conditions; meanwhile, the plant is being studied extensively recently for its antioxidant effects.

Folkloric Uses
A decoction of leaves is used for hiccups, asthma, gout, back pain, rheumatism, wounds and sores. Young leaves increases the flow of milk, and nutritional supplementation is usually recommended to lactating mothers. Pods are used for intestinal parasitism. Leaves and fruit are used for constipation. A decoction of boiled roots is used to wash sores and ulcers, while a decoction of the bark may be used for excitement and restlessness.

Pounded roots can be used as poultice for inflammatory swelling. Juice of roots is used for otalgia. A decoction of roots is used as gargle for hoarseness and sore throat. Seeds have been prescribed for hypertension, gout, asthma, hiccups, and as a diuretic. For rheumatic complaints, a decoction of seeds or powdered roasted seeds can be applied to the affected area. The juice of the root with milk is used for asthma, hiccups, gout, and lumbago. Poultice of leaves is applied for glandular swelling. Pounded fresh leaves mixed with coconut oil can be applied to wounds and cuts. The flowers boiled with soy milk are thought to have aphrodisiac quality.

Antioxidant Activity and Prevention of Carcinogenesis
In studies using hepatocytes as a free radical model, it was shown that administration of Moringa oleifera extract and silymarin significantly decreased hepatic marker enzymes and lipid peroxidation with a simultaneous increase in the level of anti-oxidants (Ashok Kumar and Pari, 2003).

In another study identifying promising sources of antioxidants, the leaves of Moringa oleifera were found to have kaempferol, and antioxidant properties (Bajpai et al, 2005).

Other findings are suggestive of a possible chemopreventive potential of Moringa oleifera drumstick extract against chemical carcinogenesis. The modulating effect of the plant’s components on drug metabolising Phase I (Cytochrome b(5) and Cytochrome p(450) ) and Phase II (Glutathione-S- transferase) enzymes, anti-oxidant enzymes, glutathione content and lipid peroxidation are postulated to be the mechanism for this chemopreventive action of Malunggay (Bharali et al, 2003).

MEDLINE Citations
Bharali R, Tabassum J, Azad MR. Chemomodulatory effect of Moringa oleifera, Lam, on hepatic carcinogen metabolising enzymes, antioxidant parameters and skin papillomagenesis in mice.
Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2003 Apr-Jun;4(2):131-9.
PMID: 12875626 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Ashok Kumar N, Pari L. Antioxidant action of Moringa oleifera Lam. (drumstick) against antitubercular drugs induced lipid peroxidation in rats.
J Med Food. 2003 Fall;6(3):255-9.
PMID: 14585192 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Bajpai M, Pande A, Tewari SK, Prakash D.
Phenolic contents and antioxidant activity of some food and medicinal plants.
Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2005 Jun;56(4):287-91.
PMID: 16096138 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


Scientific Names

Cocos nucifera Linn.

Cocos mamillaris Blanco.

Common Name

VCO (Virgin Coconut Oil)

English Names

VCO (Virgin Coconut Oil)

and Other Names

Coco (Span.), Lubi (C.Bis., P. Bis.), Oñgot (Ibn.), Gira-gira (Sbl.), Ponlaing (Sub.), I-ing (It.), Punlaing (Yak.), Iniug (Ibn.), Uñgut (Pamp.), Lobi (S.L. Bis.)

The Plant
The plant is an unarmed, erect, tall palm reaching a height of 25 meters. The trunk is stout, 30-50 centimeters in diameter, thickened at the base; marked with annular scars. The leaves are crowded at the apex, 3 to 6 meters long, with a stout petiole. Leaflets are bright green, numerous, linear-lanceolate, 60 to 100 centimeters long. Spadix is about 1 meter long, erect, drooping, simply branched. Fruit is variable in size, shape and color, obovoid to subglobose, often obscurely 3-angled, 15-25 centimeters long. Endosperm forms a thick layer of fleshy substance adherent to the testa which is adherent to the shell. The shell is covered by a fibrous husk. It is extensively cultivated in the Philippines.

It is considered the most versatile of all palms with its wide range of utility: as lumber, food, drink, alcohol, vinegar, thatching material, manufacture of baskets, rope, hats, brooms; shell for making charcoal and utensils as cups, bowls, spoons; oil for food, massage, and as base for medications for external use; cooking, illumination, soap making; it is also decorative for celebrations and religious rituals.

Medicinal Uses
The flesh of the fruit and its oil are used in the treatment of many conditions. Water from the young coconut has been used as a substitute for dextrose infusion in emergent situations during World War II. Recently, the use of Virgin Coconut Oil, now available commercially as refined oil has been advocated for its nutritional and anti-dyslipidemic properties.

Folkloric Uses

The oil is used traditionally for dandruff: massaged onto the scalp and left overnight, the oil reduces flakes and itching. For dry skin, the oil is massaged onto the affected area. The oil is also much used in the Philippines as a vehicle for liniments in skin medicines and for other external applications. It is also used for strengthening the hair; hence it is used with gogo to make a shampoo. It is much used in India as a local application in alopecia.

Nutritional Use
Increasingly popular, natural coconut oil is now being touted as the most beneficial of all oils. Although high in saturated fat, it is the richest natural source of health-promoting MCFAs (or medium-chain fatty acids). The recommendation is to take 3 ½ teaspoons (about 50 grams) of coconut oil daily, estimated from the amount equivalent to the MCFAs found in human breast milk, known to be effective in nourishing and protecting infants.

Highly refined coconut oil may be used as a substitute for the imported Wesson oil or olive oil. The high-grade oil is nearly colorless, has a bland taste, and gives off the peculiar odor of coconuts. It consists largely of the glyceryl ester of lauric and myristic acids and contains also a number of other fats which are the glyceryl esters of still other fatty acids, such as caproic, capryllic, capric, and oleic acids. The oil is official in the Dutch, German, Indian, Mexican, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Venezuelan Pharmacopoeias.

Antioxidant and Anti-dyslipidemic Properties
In one study, virgin coconut oil was shown to have a beneficial effect in lowering lipid components compared to copra oil. It reduced total cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids, LDL, and VLDL cholesterol levels and increased HDL cholesterol in serum and tissues. The polyphenol fraction of virgin coconut oil was also found to be capable of preventing LDL oxidation with reduced carbonyl formation. The results demonstrated the potential beneficiary effect of virgin coconut oil in lowering lipid levels in serum and tissues and LDL oxidation by physiological oxidants (Nevin, 2004).

MEDLINE Citations
Nevin KG, Rajamohan T. Beneficial effects of virgin coconut oil on lipid parameters and in vitro LDL oxidation.
Clin Biochem. 2004 Sep;37(9):830-5.
PMID: 15329324 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

1 comment:

Justin said...

Depending on what type of diabetes you have, your diet will vary, but a lot of diabetics find it easiest to manage their blood sugar levels if they eat every 2-3 hours. Eat small, balanced meals with healthy snacks in between. I find it best if I eat breakfast at around 7am, snack at 10am, eat lunch around 12pm, have a snack at 3pm then eat dinner around 6pm. I also test my blood sugar level before bed and try to eat some sort of protein to hold me over throughout the night an by doing this and follow the guidelines of Natural Diabetes Management than diabetes can be cured easily.