10 Herbal Medicines approved by DOH

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Here are the the ten (10) medicinal plants that the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) through its “Traditional Health Program” have endorsed. All ten (10) herbs have been thoroughly tested and have been clinically proven to have medicinal value in the relief and treatment of various aliments:

1. Akapulko (Cassia alata) – also known as “bayabas-bayabasan” and “ringworm bush” in English, this herbal medicine is used to treat ringworms and skin fungal infections.

2. Ampalaya (Momordica charantia) – known as “bitter gourd” or “bitter melon” in English, it most known as a treatment of diabetes (diabetes mellitus), for the non-insulin dependent patients.

3. Bawang (Allium sativum) – popularly known as “garlic”, it mainly reduces cholesterol in the blood and hence, helps control blood pressure.

4. Bayabas (Psidium guajava) – “guava” in English. It is primarily used as an antiseptic, to disinfect wounds. Also, it can be used as a mouth wash to treat tooth decay and gum infection.

5. Lagundi (Vitex negundo) – known in English as the “5-leaved chaste tree”. It’s main use is for the relief of coughs and asthma.

6. Niyog-niyogan (Quisqualis indica L.) – is a vine known as “Chinese honey suckle”. It is effective in the elimination of intestinal worms, particularly the Ascaris and Trichina. Only the dried matured seeds are medicinal -crack and ingest the dried seeds two hours after eating (5 to 7 seeds for children & 8 to 10 seeds for adults). If one dose does not eliminate the worms, wait a week before repeating the dose.

7. Sambong (Blumea balsamifera)- English name: Blumea camphora. A diuretic that helps in the excretion of urinary stones. It can also be used as an edema.

8. Tsaang Gubat (Ehretia microphylla Lam.) – Prepared like tea, this herbal medicine is effective in treating intestinal motility and also used as a mouth wash since the leaves of this shrub has high fluoride content.

9. Ulasimang Bato | Pansit-Pansitan (Peperomia pellucida) – It is effective in fighting arthritis and gout. The leaves can be eaten fresh (about a cupful) as salad or like tea. For the decoction, boil a cup of clean chopped leaves in 2 cups of water. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain, let cool and drink a cup after meals (3 times day).

10. Yerba Buena (Clinopodium douglasii) – commonly known as Peppermint, this vine is used as an analgesic to relive body aches and pain. It can be taken internally as a decoction or externally by pounding the leaves and applied directly on the afflicted area.

Philippine Herbal Medicine: Akapulko / Acapulco (Cassia alata)

Akapulko or Acapulco in English is a shrub found throughout the Philippines. It is known under various names in different regions in the country. Locals call the plant katanda, andadasi, and palochina in Tagalog, Ilocos and in the Visayas regions, respectively. The shrub belongs to the family of Leguminosae, and grows about one to two meters tall. It has thick branches and the leaves are embraced with 8 to 20 leaflets that are oblong-elliptical in shape. The flowers of the Akapulko have oblong sepals, and its fruits are tetragonal, which are also winged and glabrous. A medicinal herb that contains chrysophanic acid, a fungicide used to treat fungal infections, like ringworms, scabies, and eczema. Akapulko also contains saponin, a laxative that is useful in expelling intestinal parasites.

The primary part used for herbal purposes are the leaves, although the roots and flowers are also used for certain preparations with medicinal value. The extracts from the Akapulko plant is commonly used as an ingredient for lotions, soaps, and shampoos.

Benefits & Treatment of Akapulko:• External Use:Treatment of skin diseases:
Tinea infections, insect bites, ringworms, eczema, scabies and itchiness.
• Mouthwash in stomatitis

• Internal use:
Expectorant for bronchitis and dyspnoea
• Alleviation of asthma symptoms
• Used as diuretic and purgative
• For cough & fever
• As a laxative to expel intestinal parasites and other stomach problems.

Note: A strong decoction of Akapulko leaves is an abortifacient. Pregnant women should not take decoction of the leaves or any part of this plant.

 

Preparation & Use:• For external use, pound the leaves of the Akapulko plant, squeeze the juice and apply on affected areas.• As the expectorant for bronchitis and dyspnoea, drink decoction (soak and boil for 10 to 15 minutes) of Akapulko leaves. The same preparation may be used as a mouthwash, stringent, and wash for eczema.

• As laxative, cut the plant parts (roots, flowers, and the leaves) into a manageable size then prepare a decoction Note: The decoction looses its potency if not used for a long time. Dispose leftovers after one day.

• The pounded leaves of Akapulko has purgative functions, specifically against ringworms.

 

It should be noted that the pounded leaves of this plant may be applied thinly on the affected part twice a day. Marked improvement may be expected after two to three weeks of continuous application to the affected area(s) where the prepared Akapulko leaves were applied.

Herbal Medicine: Ampalaya (Momordica charantia)

Ampalaya (Bitter Melon) with a scientific name Momordica charantia, is a climbing vine and the tendrils of which grow up to 20 centimeters long. This herbal plant belongs to the family of Cucurbitaceae, and it is a tropical as well as a subtropical vine. Ampalaya leaves are heart-shaped, which are 5 to 10 centimeters in diameter. The fruits of the ampalaya vine are fleshy green with pointed ends at length. It can never be mistaken for any other variety because its ribbed and wrinkled surface had always been ampalaya’s distinct physical structure. The bitter taste of the ampalaya fruit had also been the distinguishing factor from the rest of the fruits with medicinal value, and this is due to the presence of a substance known as momorcidin.

Ampalaya has been a folkloric cure for generations but has now been proven to be an effective herbal medicine for many aliments. Most significant of which is for Diabetes. The Philippine variety has proven to be most potent. Ampalaya contains a mixture of flavanoids and alkaloids make the Pancreas produce more insulin that controls the blood sugar in diabetics. Aside from Ampalaya’s medicinal value, it is good source of vitamins A, B and C, iron, folic acid, phosphorous and calcium.

Ampalaya has been for used even by the Chinese for centuries. The effectively of Ampalaya as an herbal medicine has been tried and tested by many research clinics and laboratories worldwide. In the Philippines, the Department of Health has endorsed Ampalaya as an alternative medicine to help alleviate various ailments including diabetes, liver problems and even HIV. Aside from these, ampalaya also helps treat skin diseases and cough. Its herbal value extends to increasing the sterility of women, in parasiticide, antipyretic, and has purgative functions, as well. Note: In large dozes, pure Ampalaya juice can be a purgative and abortifacient.

Herbal Benefits of Ampalaya:• Good for rheumatism and gout
• And diseases of the spleen and liver
• Aids in lowering blood sugar levels
• Helps in lowering blood pressure
• Relives headaches
• Disinfects and heals wounds & burns
• Can be used as a cough & fever remedy
• Treatment of intestinal worms, diarrhea
• Helps prevent some types of cancer
• Enhances immune system to fight infection
• For treatment of hemorrhoids
• Is an antioxidant and parasiticide
• Is antibacterial and antipyretic
Preparation & Use of Ampalaya:• For coughs, fever, worms, diarrhea, diabetes, juice Ampalaya leaves and drink a spoonful daily.
• For other ailments, the fruit and leaves can both be juiced and taken orally.
• For headaches wounds, burns and skin diseases, apply warmed leaves to afflicted area.
• Powdered leaves, and the root decoction, may be used as stringent and applied to treat hemorrhoids.
• Internal parasites are proven to be expelled when the ampalaya juice, made from its leaves, is extracted. The ampalaya juice, and grounded seeds is to be taken one spoonful thrice a day, which also treats diarrhea, dysentery, and chronic colitis.

Bawang, Bauang | Garlic (Allium sativum)

Bawang or Garlic with scientific name Allium sativum, is a low herb, which only grows up to sixty centimeters high. Its leaves are flat and linear, with bulbs that consist of several tubers. This herb is one of the most widely used herbal medicines in the Philippines and can also be found commonly in the kitchen of Filipino households as it is used to spice up food preparations. The Philippine bawang or garlic variety is more pungent than the imported ones. Its medicinal properties have been known for a long time and have been especially proven during World War II when it was used to treat wounds and infections of soldiers. Garlic’s antibacterial compound known as allicin, saved many lives of the soldiers as this property prevented the wounds from being infected and developing into gangrene at a later stage by extracting the juice of bawang or garlic and applying to the wounds.

Bawang, sometimes spelled as bauang or in English, garlic is known as nature’s antibiotic. Its juices inhibit the growth of fungi and viruses thus, prevent viral, yeast, and infections. The preliminary test conducted on this medicinal herb showed some positive results in the treatment of AIDS. Several clinical tests that followed and published studies have shown the efficacy of garlic in lowering cholesterol in the blood and is beneficial to the circulatory system of the body. Today, as more research is done on garlic, more medicinal and therapeutic properties become more evident. As of the present time, lowering of the blood pressure, reduction of platelet aggregation, and the boosting of fibrinolytic activities are among the list of herbal functions of garlic, which is supported by medical findings. Although more clinical studies are needed to support the contention stronger, marked improvements in benign breast diseases have been traced to make progress because of the regular intake of supplements, of which the primary ingredient is garlic.

Although controlled trials in terms of anti-cancer activities of garlic have been performed in medical research, it has been proven through population-based studies that substances contain in garlic help in reducing the risk of some types of cancer. These would include colorectal malignancies, and gastric cancer. Regular consumption of raw garlic has been proven to aid in many bleeding cases, especially those cases that are associated with procedures in surgeries and dental activities. All these considered, it appears that garlic have no concrete scientific basis to claim a significant effect in the level of glucose in our blood. It is remarkable to note though that the Philippine Department of Health has endorsed garlic as one of the top ten Philippine herbs with therapeutic value and the department recommends its use as an alternative herbal medicine in view of the positive results of thorough research and testing, which had been conducted on this herbal plant. Juice extracted from garlic bulbs can be used as tick and mosquito repellant when applied to skin.

Bad breath, due to the strong odor of garlic, is the most common side effect of taking this herb. Fresh garlic applications to the skin have been reported to cause skin burns and rashes. This goes true both for those who are in the initial stages of their garlic therapies, and those who consume it as an ingredient in food preparations.

Health Benefits of Bawang-Garlic:• Good for the heart
• Helps lower bad cholesterol levels (LDL)
• Aids in lowering blood pressure
• Remedy for arteriosclerosis
• May help prevent certain types of cancer
• Boosts immune system to fight infection
• With antioxidant & antibacterial properties
• Cough and cold remedy
• Relives sore throat
• Aids in the treatment of tuberculosis
• Helps relieve rheumatism pain
• Relief of toothaches
• Kills skin fungus i.e. athlete’s foot
• With anticoagulant properties
Preparation of Bawang-Garlic:• For disinfecting wound, crush and juice the garlic bulb and apply. You may cover the afflicted area with a gauze and bandage.
• For sore throat, peal the skin and chew for several minutes. Swallow the juice.
• For toothaches, crush then bite garlic.
• For athlete’s foot, soak feet in salty water then apply garlic juice. Do this 3X day for a week.
• Cloves of garlic may be crushed and applied to affected areas to reduce the pain caused by arthritis, toothache, headache, and rheumatism.
• Decoction of the bawang bulbs and leaves are used as treatment for fever.
• For nasal congestion, steam and inhale: vinegar, chopped garlic, and water.

Aside from being an alternative herbal medicine for hypertension, arteriosclerosis and other ailments, garlic is also recommended for maintaining good health – eat raw garlic bulbs if you can, and include bawang regularly in the food you eat. Garlic is healthy and taste good on a variety of dishes.

Herbal Medicine: Bayabas or Guava (Psidium guajava)

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 menstruationThe 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.

Lagundi (Vitex negundo)

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.

Lagundi tablets (300 mg) are available from the Department of Health’s Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PITAHC) Telephone # (632) 727-6199.

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
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.

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.

Niyog-Niyogan (Quisqualis Indica L.)

Niyog-niyogan or Rangoon Creeper is an excellent vine for outdoor gardens. This ligneous plant, scientifically called Quisqualis indica L. It is also known as Burma or Rangoon Creeper, Liane Vermifuge and Chinese honeysuckle. Niyog-niyogan is perfect for covered walkways as it grows at least 2.5m long and reaches up to 8m long when it matures. This active climber, which belongs to the combretaceae family grows best in tropical areas and demands constant sunlight. Perhaps due to its tropical characterization that it is found in primary and secondary forests of countries like Africa, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and other Asian regions.

Niyog-niyogan is cultivated in greenhouses and can be naturalized in tropical areas. This vine starts as a shrub about 3-feet tall with branches growing from all directions. The mother shrub seizes to grow and dies after six months allowing the creeper to rapidly climb walls, trees, and the like. The branches of niyog-niyogan are filled with oblong-shaped leaves growing on opposite sides attached to 6mm to 10mm long petioles. The leaves of niyog-niyogan can grow up to 15cm long and more than 5cm wide with a pointed tip. Its flowers grow in clusters and it blossoms year-round. Its flowers open at night with five bright red petals and gives out a distinct perfume. The young flowers of niyog-niyogan start with white-colored petals that turn pink then red as it matures. It also bears fruits, which can grow up to 3cm long with five angles on its sides.

The niyog-niyogan plant grows in haste during the rainy season, hence constant pruning is especially recommended during this time. It is advised to place this plant in spacious areas to avoid crowding with a temperature of at least 60°F with evenly moistened soil to produce flowers. Niyog-niyogan can thrive in almost all kinds of soil and can even tolerate moderate amount of drought in cold seasons.

Benefits & Treatment of Niyog-Niyogan:Almost all of its parts are used individually, or mixed with other ingredients, as remedy to different ailments. In the Philippines, these are taken to rid people of parasitic worms. Some also use these to help alleviate coughs and diarrhea. Medical experts, advice patients to consult their doctors as improper dosing may cause hiccups. Niyog-niyogan’s leaves are used to cure body pains by placing them on specific problematic areas of the body. Compound decoctions of the leaves of niyog-niyogan are used in India to alleviate flatulence.  Preparation & Use:Seeds of niyog-niyogan can be taken as an anthelmintic. These are eaten raw two hours before the patient’s last meal of the day. Adults may take 10 seeds while children 4 to 7 years of age may eat up to four seeds only. Children from ages 8 to 9 may take six seeds and seven seeds may be eaten by children 10 to 12 years old.Decoctions of its roots are also sometimes used as a remedy for rheumatism while its fruits are used as an effective way to relieve toothaches.

Sambong (Blumea balsamifera L.)

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.

Powdered Sambong leaves are available in 250 mg tablets at the DOH’s Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PITAHC) Telephone # (632) 727-6199.

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 
Preparation & Use:• A decoction (boil in water) of Sambong leaves as like tea and drink a glass 3 or 4 times a day.
• The leaves can also be crushed or pounded and mixed with coconut oil.
• For headaches, apply crushed and pounded leaves on forehead and temples.
• Decoction of leaves is used as sponge bath.
• Decoction of the roots, on the other hand, is to be taken in as cure for fever.

Tsaang Gubat or Wild Tea (Ehretia microphylla Lam.)

Tsaang Gubat is one of the 10 herbs that is endorsed the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) as an antispasmodic for abdominal (stomach) pains. And is registered as a herbal medicine at the Philippine Bureau of Food & Drug (BFAD).

Tsaang Gubat is a shrub (small tree) that grows (from 1 to 5 meters) abundantly in the Philippines. In folkloric medicine, the leaves has been used as a disinfectant wash during child birth, as cure for diarrhea, as tea for general good heath and because Tsaang Gubat has high fluoride content, it is used as a mouth gargle for preventing tooth decay. Research and test now prove it’s efficacy as an herbal medicine. Aside from the traditional way of taking Tsaag Gubat, it is now available commercially in capsules, tablets and tea bags.

Tsaang Gubat is also knows as: Wild Tea, Forest Tea, Alibungog (Visayas Region), Putputai (Bicol Region) and Maragued (Ilocos Region). Scientific name: Ehretia Microphylla Lam.

Health Benefits of Tsaang Gubat:• Stomach pains
• Gastroenteritis
• Intestinal motility
• Dysentery
• Diarrhea or Loose Bowel Movement (LBM)
• Mouth gargle
• Body cleanser/wash 
Preparation & Use:• Thoroughly wash the leaves of tsaang gubat in running water. Chop to a desirable size and boil 1 cup of chopped leaves in 2 cups of water. Boil in low heat for 15 to 20 minutes and drain.
• Take a cupful every 4 hours for diarrhea, gastroenteritis and stomach pains.
• Gargle for stronger teeth and prevent cavities.
• Drink as tea daily for general good health.

Pansit-Pansitan (Peperomia pellucida Linn.) a.k.a. Ulasiman-Bato

Pansit-pansitan (family: Piperaceae) is an herbal medicine also known as Ulasiman-bato, olasiman-ihalas & tangon-tangon in the Philippines. English name: peperomia. It is a small herb that grows from 1 to 1 1/2 feet. Pansit-pansitan can be found wild on lightly shaded and damp areas such as nooks, walls, yards and even roofs. Pansit-pansitan has heart shaped leaves, succulent stems with tiny flowers on a spike. When matured, the small fruits bear one seed which fall of the ground and propagate.

The leaves and stalk of pansit-pansitan are edible. It can be harvested, washed and eaten as fresh salad. Taken as a salad, pansit-pansitan helps relive rheumatic pains and gout. An infusion or decoction (boil 1 cup of leaves/stem in 2 cups of water) can also be made and taken orally – 1 cup in the morning and another cup in the evening.

For the herbal treatment of skin disorders like abscesses, pimples and boils, pound the leaves and/or the stalks and make a poultice (boil in water for a minute or two then pounded) then applied directly to the afflicted area. Likewise a decoction can be used as a rinse to treat skin disorders.

For headaches, heat a couple of leaves in hot water, bruise the surface and apply on the forehead. The decoction of leaves and stalks is also good for abdominal pains and kidney problems.
Like any herbal medicine it is not advisable to take any other medication in combination with any herbs. Consult with a medical practitioner knowledgeable in herbal medicine before any treatment.

Pansit-pansitan is used as an herbal medicine for the treatment of:• Arthritis
• Gout
• Skin boils, abscesses, pimples
• Headache
• Abdominal pains
• kidney problems

Yerba Buena (Clinopodium douglasii)

Yerba Buena is an herb of the mint family. It is an aromatic plant used as herbal medicine worldwide. This perennial plant’s growth ranges from 0.6 meters to 1 meter. It has elongated leaves and in summers, it bears small whitish or purplish flowers. Such flowers possess both male and female organs that allow it to be pollinated by bees and animals of the same nature. The word Yerba Buena is Spanish for “good herb” and was the former name of the California city of San Francisco.

Before its medicinal value has been recognized, Yerba Buena was first used as an ingredient in numerous cuisines. It became popular because of its distinctively strong spearmint flavor, thus making it ideal for salads. The leaves are the source of this flavor, and they may be added to viands and meals, either raw or cooked. It has also been effective to drive away rats and other rodents, because of its strong smell of mint that it emits. Thus, besides its medicinal value, it has long been recognized to have strong commercial demand due to the variety of uses that the plant have.

Yerba Buena has been consumed for centuries as tea and herbal medicine as a pain reliever (analgesic). Native American Indians used it even before the “white men” colonized the Americas. Today, this folk medicine’s efficacy has been validated by scientific research. In the Philippines, Yerba Buena is one of the 10 herbs endorsed by the Department of Health (DOH) as an effective alternative medicine for aches and pains. It has been recognized for its antiseptic, anti-cancer, diuretic, anti-spasm, anti-emetic activities. Properties of this herbal plant are also found to function as stimulant and to have restorative effects.

As an herbal medicine, a decoction (boil leaves then strain) of Yerba Buena is effective for minor ailments such as headaches, toothaches, and joint pains. It can also relive stomachaches due to gas buildup and indigestion. The fresh and dried leaves can both be used for the decoction. And because Yerba Buena belongs to the mint family, soaking fresh leaves in a glass of water (30 to 45 minutes) makes a good and effective mouth wash for a clean, fresh smelling breath.

Yerba Buena may be used to treat:• Arthritis
• Head aches
• Tooth aches
• Mouth wash
• Relief of intestinal gas
• Stomach aches
• Indigestion
• Drink as tea for general good health. 
Preparation & Use:• Wash fresh Yerba Buena leaves in running water. Chop to size for dried leaves, crush) and boil 2 teaspoons of leaves in a glass of water. Boil in medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes.
• As analgesic, take a cupful every 3 hours.
• For tooth aches, pound the fresh leaves, squeeze juice out and apply on a cotton ball then bite on to the aching tooth.
• Yerba buena leaves may be heated over fire and placed over the forehead for headaches.

Stems of Yerba Buena may be crushed and applied directly to bruises. Folkloric use include poultice preparation and the oil extracts from its stems are suggested to be a remedy for cancerous tumors. Caution should be observed in taking this herbal medicine as it can be toxic in large doses.

Tips on Handling Medicinal Plants / Herbs:

• If possible, buy herbs that are grown organically – without pesticides.

• Medicinal parts of plants are best harvested on sunny mornings. Avoid picking leaves, fruits or nuts during and after heavy rainfall.

• Leaves, fruits, flowers or nuts must be mature before harvesting. Less medicinal substances are found on young parts.

• After harvesting, if drying is required, it is advisable to dry the plant parts either in the oven or air-dried on screens above ground and never on concrete floors.

• Store plant parts in sealed plastic bags or brown bottles in a cool dry place without sunlight preferably with a moisture absorbent material like charcoal. Leaves and other plant parts that are prepared properly, well-dried and stored can be used up to six months.

Tips on Preparation for Intake of Herbal Medicines:

• Use only half the dosage prescribed for fresh parts like leaves when using dried parts.

• Do not use stainless steel utensils when boiling decoctions. Only use earthen, enamelled, glass or alike utensils.

• As a rule of thumb, when boiling leaves and other plant parts, do not cover the pot, and boil in low flame.

• Decoctions loose potency after some time. Dispose of decoctions after one day. To keep fresh during the day, keep lukewarm in a flask or thermos.

• Always consult with a doctor if symptoms persist or if any sign of allergic reaction develops.

My source: http://www.philippineherbalmedicine.org/doh_herbs.htm

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2 thoughts on “10 Herbal Medicines approved by DOH

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