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close this bookRelated Agroforestry Livelihood (IIRR, 1992, 30 p.)
close this folderMedicinal uses of upland vegetation (including plant essences)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentCollection/harvesting medicinal plants
View the documentPrimary processing of medicinal plants
View the documentGlossary of terms


The need for medicinal plants for the country's health care delivery system has become more evident in recent years, especially in remote areas where lack of medicines and medical attention is critically felt. High cost of medicines and increasing poverty further compound the problem. Medicinal plants, hand in hand with proper nutrition, disease prevention and control measures help provide adequate health care to the population and contribute to the improvement of the quality of life.

Included here are medicinal species found throughout the Philippines which have been the subject of scientific research, clinical testing and product development and are now being used in primary health care. The plants are arranged alphabetically according to their popularly-known Tagalog name, together with information such as scientific name, family to which the plant belongs, available local names in as many dialects, English and Spanish names, plant part used, method of preparation and administration, with illustrations of the plants. Dosage indicated here are for adults; dosage for children is half of the adult dose. The amounts are for fresh plant materials. In cases wherein only dried plant drug is available, use half of the indicated amount and always follow the recommended instructions.

Caution and moderation must always be observed in the use of medicinal plants. Use only one plant drug at a time and take only the prescribed dose. It will be easier to pinpoint the cause of desirable reaction than if many plants are used together. Discontinue treatment and consult a knowledgeable medical person when there are no signs of improvement after 24 hours.

Akapulko Cassia alata L.

· Leguminosae

· Bayabasin, bikasbikas, gamot sa bunt, kapurko, katanda, pakagonkon, sonting (Tagalog), Andadasi (llokano), Kalsitas (Bicolano), Palochina, stinting (Bisaya), Ringworm bush

· Juice, poultice, ointment from leaves for fungal skin infections, applied twice a day.

Cassia alata L:.

Alagaw Premma odorata Blco.

· Verbenaceae

· Adiyo (Tagalog) Anobran (llocano) Adgaw (Bicolano) Abgaw, argaw, agbaw (Bisaya), Pumuhat tangli (Kapampangan)

· Poultice for headache, colic and chest pains: infusion of leaves (1 palm-sized leaf in 2 glasses of water) for fever and cough; 1/4 cup every 44 hours. Decoction of leaves sponge bath for fever.

Premma odorata Blco.

Ampalaya Momordica charantia L.

· Cucurbitaceae

· Ampalaya (Tagalog) Paria (Bicolano) Palya (Bisaya) Amargoso (Spanish) Balsam pear, bigger gourd, balsam apple

· Young leaves cooked as vegetable for diabetes; leaf juice for skin diseases.

Momordica charantia L.

Banaba Lagerstroemia speciosa (L.) Pers.

· Lythraceae

· Banaba (Tagalog and other dialects)

· Decoction of leaves and bark for diabetes, as diuretic; 4 tablespoons chopped leaves in 2 glassfuls of water; 1/4 cup in the morning, after breakfast.

Lagerstroemia speciosa (L.) Pers.

Bayabas Psidium guajava L.

· Myrtaceae

· Bayabas (Tagalog), Guyabas, bayabas (llocano), Bayawas (Bicolano), Bayabas (Bisaya), Guava

· Decoction of leaves (6 8 tablespoons of chopped leaves in 2 glassfuls of water) for stomachache, diarrhea: 114 cup every 3 hours for cleansing wounds, swollen gums, as needed. Crushed leaves stops bleeding of shallow cuts, for fainting and dizziness.

Psidium guajava L.

Damong maria Artemisia vulgaris L.

· Compositae

· Damong maria, kamaria, maria, tinisas (Tagalog) Arbaaka (llocano) Hilbas (Bisaya) Cintura de San Jose, Cordon de San Jose, Sta. Mesa (Spanish)

· Pounded leaves as poultice for colic and headaches; decoction of leaves for cleansing wounds.

Artemisia vulgaris L.

Oregano Coleus amboinicus Lour.

· Labiatae

· Suganda (most dialects), Bildu (Sulu) Oregano, torongil de limon (Spanish)

· Poultice of leaves for headache, colic, burns; juice for insect bites; syrup or infusion for cough and asthma.

Coleus amboinicus Lour.

Pandakaki Ervatamia pandacaqui

· Apocynaceae

· Pandakaki, kampupot (Tagalog), Busbusilak, kurbetbet (llocano), Alibotbot, halibutbut, pandaya, pandakaking-puti, sakang-manuk (Bicolano) Alibutbut, salibukbuk, salimbabaya, tungkal (Bisaya)

· Milky sap is for healing cuts and wounds.

Ervatamia pandacaqui

Papaya Carica papaya L.

· Caricaceae

· Papaya (Tagalog) Apayas (llocano) Tapayas (Bicolano) Kapaya (Bisaya) Pawpaw

· Ripe fruit for constipation; poultice of leaves for rheumatism; sap from fruit peelings for freckles and other complexion problems.

Carica papaya L.

Sambong Blumea balmasifera

· Compositae

· Sambong (Tagalog) Sob-sob, subusub (llocano), Lakadbulan, alibum, alimon, ayoban, bakadkad, hamlibon, lalakdan, lakdanbulan (Bisaya)

· Ngai camphor, blumea camphor

· Leaf decoction as sponge bath for fever; infusion for high blood pressure as diuretic; poultice for headache, boils and abscesses

Blumea balmasifera

Tangan-tangan Ricinus communis L.

· Euphorbiaceae
· Tangan-tangan (Tagalog), Tawa-tawa (llocano), Katana (Ivatan), Gatlawa (Ifugao)
· Castor oil plant
· Leaf poultice for headache, skin ulcers boils, rheumatism; oil from seeds is purgative.

Ricinus communis L.

Tsaang-gubat Carmona retusa L.

· Boraginaceae

· Tsaang-gubat (Tagalog), maragawed (llocano), Putputay (Bicolano), Alibungog, maramara (Bisaya), Willd tea

· Leaf infusion (2-3 tablespoons of chopped leaves in 1 glassful of water) for stomachache.

· Leaf decoction (6-8 tablespoons of chopped leaves in 2 glassfuls of water) for diarrhea. Take 1/4 of the resulting decoction every 3 hours.

Carmona retusa L.

Dilaw Curcuma longa L.

· Zingiberaceae

· Luyang-dilaw Tagaiogj, Kulyaw (llocano), Dulaw (Bisaya), Angay (Kapampangan), Turmeric

· Juice, tincture, poultice, ointment from rhizomes for scratches, shallow cuts, sprains and bruises, rheumatism, stomachache, scabies.

Curcuma longa L.

Lagundi Vitex negundo L.

· Verbenaceae

· Dangla (llocano) Dabtan (Ifugao) Tugas (Bisaya) Fiveleaved chaste tree

· Poultice of leaves for headache; decoction, infusion syrup (4-6 tablespoonfuls of chopped leaves in 2 glassfuls of water) for fever, cough and colds, asthma, take 1/4 cup 3 times a day; decoction of leaves as sponge bath for fever and for cleansing wounds.

Vitex negundo L.

Luya Zingiber officinale Rosc.

· Zingiberaceae

· Luy-a (Bisaya), Gengibre (Spanish) Ginger

· Decoction of rhizome for cough, sore throat, stomachache, colic (1-2 teaspoonfuls of chopped rhizome in one CUD of water)

· Poultice, liniment for rheumatism

Tincture for cuts and scratches

Zingiber officinale Rosc.

Makabuhay Tinospora rumphii Boerl.

· Menispermaceae

· Makabuhay (Tagalog, llocano, Bisaya), Panyawan, panawan, taganagtagwa, palyaban (Bisaya)

· Poultice of pounded stem and leaves for stomachache and rheumatism; decoction as sponge bath for fever and malaria.

Tinospora rumphii Boerl.

Malunggay Moringa oleifera Lam.

· Moringaceae

· Kalungay (Bicolano) Kamunggay (Bisaya) Dool (Kapampangan) Horseradish tree

· Decoction of leaves/cooked leaves for lactation and constipation and cleansing scabies; poultice for scabies and stopping bleeding of sha!!ow cuts.

Moringa oleifera Lam.

Niyog-niyogan Quisqualis indica L.

· Combretaceae

· Tagaraw, tataraok, tagulo (Tagalog) Tartaraw, tartarauk (llocano), Tanglon, tangulo, kasumbal (Bicolano), Balitadham, pinyon, bonor (Bisaya), Chinese honeysuckle; Rangoon creeper; Yesterday, today and tomorrow

· To expel intestinal worms: 8-10 nuts hours after supper followed with several glasses of water, every 6 months.

Quisqalis indica L.

Collection/harvesting medicinal plants

The time and method of harvesting medicinal plants are very important. Plants contain numerous active constituents, chemical compounds responsible for the therapeutic activity, which are affected by environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, light and manner of handling during harvest.

In general, it is best to harvest in the morning on a warm, sunny day.

Different plant parts require different methods of collection. As much as possible, leaves and flowering tops should be hand-picked. If the plant pan to be used is the seed, the fruit must be fully ripe before harvest. If the whole fruit is to be used, it must be harvested before reaching maturity. Underground parts are collected before the stage of flowering.

Use only the recommended parts. The relative distribution of constituents within the plant body varies. Sometimes, the roots or the seeds may contain more of the active constitutent than the leaves and stem or viceversa.

Primary processing of medicinal plants

Proper drying and storage of medicinal plants for future use are important since moisture encourages the growth of molds and other microorganisms, leading to the destruction of the active principles and the deterioration of the plant drug.

Air-drying and sun-drying are the methods employed in the absence of temperature-controlled ovens. Properly dried leaves crumble easily.

Small amounts of material may be dried in a large transparent container in a sunny window, such as an uncapped large jar.

Large amounts may be hung in bundles, baskets, mesh bags, outdoors or spread on a clean mat in warm, dry place indoors.

Avoid drying on top of concrete pavements or roof-tops; extreme heat could destroy some of the plant constituents.

Prevent growth of molds and other microorganisms, infestation by insects and rodents by keeping the dried plant drugs inside air-tight containers in a cool, dry place away from direct light.

Stored medicinal plants must be labeled inside and outside the container; include the date of collection in the label.

Glossary of terms

Decoction -- The plant materials are boiled in water for 1520 minutes or until the water is reduced to half its original volume. Allow to cool, strain and drink as recommended.

Infusion -- Boiling water is poured over the plant material in a container, covered and allowed to stand for 15 minutes, strained and used immediately upon cooling. Brown sugar or honey may be added for pleasant taste.

In preparing medicinal plants, use containers made of inert materials, such as clay pots, enamel-lined, pyrex, etc., not metalic utensils.

Infusions and decoctions should be freshly-prepared; a day's dose may be prepared and kept fresh in a thermos bottle or in a refrigerator, if available.

Syrups -- The plant material is prepared as a decoction first and, after straining, honey or syrup made by boiling brown sugar in water (1:1) is added. Allow to simmer further until syrup is of the desired consistency. Syrups keep longer than decoctions and infusions.

Juices -- These are extracted from fresh plant parts, taken internally or applied locally on the affected parts of the body, as the case may be.

Poultice -- Soften, pound or crush fresh plant material. Mix with a little warm oil, apply externally and hold in place with a piece of clean cloth. Sometimes, mashed broiled rice or gawgaw is mixed with the plant material instead of oil This dressing should be changed daily.

Liniments - Plant material is crushed and macerated in basi or tuba, strained and used internally or externally.

Ointments - Juices extracted from plant material with the aid of a little basi, tuba or lambanog, then blended into a sufficient amount of Vaselina blanca or lard. This is for external application.