Medicinal Herbs

Ganoderma lucidum

Considered as the elixir of life in the golden ages of China, Ganoderma lucidum is so rare and so precious that it is reserved to the emperors and other high ranking officials of old times. It is one of the most popular herbs in the East Asian countries and its uses extends to almost different systems in the body. Ganoderma Chinese and Korean name “Ling Zhi” is synonymous to “mushroom of herb and immortality”.

It is use as anti- oxidants, anti-cancer, anti hypertension, anti lipids and for treatment of other diseases. Recent studies in vitro also revealed that Ganoderma has demonstrated an anti-HIV protease activity that could be a breakthrough in treating HIV infection.

Active constituents in Ganoderma include polyssacharide, organic germanium, adenosine and triterpenoids called ganoderic acids. Polysaccharides fractions of Ganoderma have demonstrated anti-tumor properties in clinical studies by reducing infected white blood cells and inhibiting the activities of cancer cells. These polysaccharides can also promote the growth of macrophages and lymphocytes thereby strengthening one’s immune system.

Ampalaya (Momordica charantia)

Momordica charantia

Other names: amargoso, margoso, paria, bitter melon, bitter gourd

A fruiting vine that belongs to family of Cucurbitaceae, ampalaya is also called bitter melon for its taste (due to the presence of a substance known as momorcidin). In the Philippines, its fruits is eaten as vegetable; usually combined with other vegetables or sautéed alone. The interest in this herb rise when it is proven clinically to help in the management of patients with diabetes.

Turmeric (Curcuma domestica; curcuma longa; Curcuma domestica Valet)

Other names: Kilaw, Luyang dilaw, Dilaw, Kuning, Kulyan, Kunig, Kunik, Lampuyang, Kinabol, Kalabaga, Dulao

Known to Chinese as jianghuang which literally means yellow ginger, turmeric or “kalawag” remains one of the widely used herbs in Asia particularly in India and other South Asian countries. In the Philippines, turmeric is primarily used as food coloring. Unknown to many people, kalawag has many medicinal properties. Studies showed that it has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Its yellow-staining oily pigment known as curcumin limits the body’s ability to make enzyme cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) which is the precursor in making prostaglandins. The prostaglandin is responsible in initiating the classic “heat, pain, redness and swelling” associated with inflammation. Curcumin also acts as free radical scavenger. Free radicals’ damages tissues, exacerbates inflammation and can also cause mutations that leads to cancer.

Tsaang Gubat (Carmona retusa (Vahl) Masam) “Wild Tea”

Carmona retusa

Other names: Wild Tea, Forest Tea, Gari, Gai: Alangit; alangitngit, Mangit Semente, Balingsua, Mara-mara, Icha, Buntaitai, Chaang Bundok, Kalimugmog, Kalamuga, Carmona, Philippine tea, Fukien tea

Tsaang- Gubat is registered in the Philippines’ Bureau of Foods and Drugs as a medicine for its proven therapeutic property. This herb is scientifically proven for its medicinal worth mainly its anti-spasmodic effect. It is extensively endorsed by the Philippines’ Department of Health in treatment stomachache, abdominal pain and diarrhea. The herb is prepared by making it as a tea hence its name tsaang-gubat which literally means tea from the forest.

Tawa Tawa (Euphorbia hirta)

Also called Gatas Gatas because of the healing properties of its milky juice, this herb has gained widespread attention because of its ability to help patients recover from dengue. Folk wisdom regard it as a hemostatic, which may help explain why blood platelets increase after ingestion of a boiled decoction of the plant.

Neem (Azadirachta indica)

Other names: Margosa Tree

Higly regarded tree in India for its potent medicinal properties, Neem got its distinction of Sarva Roga Nivarini ( “one that could cure all ailments and ills”) during Ancient times. Its active ingredients include gedunin and quercitin (anti-malarial), nimbin (anti-inflammatory, anti-pyretic), nimbidin (antibacterial), nimbidol (anti-malarial, anti-pyretic). Due to intensive studies regarding this herbal tree, it is found out that it can greatly lower down blood sugar and blood cholesterol. Its leaf extracts and seeds extract are used as an active ingredient in the management of diabetes mellitus.

Mayana (Coeus blumei Benth.)

Other names: Lampuyana, Dafronaya, Tampunaya, Daponaya, Painted Nettle

Commonly used as ornamental plant in the country due to its purplish foliage, mayana can grow in the different kinds of habitat. It is one of the traditionally used folklore medicine and is primarily used for pain, sore, swelling and cuts and in other instances as adjunct medication for delayed menstruation and diarrhea. This traditional uses of mayana are scientifically supported by studies here and abroad. Chemists form the University of the Philippines isolated sterols and triterpenes form the leaves of mayana and it exhibited analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activities. Another interesting component of the plant is its high rosmarinic acid content. This compound was noted for its high biological activities; prominent of those are its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Other names: Luya, Laya, Agat, Luy-a

The next time you plan to use aspirin and other NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) for pain, think again because you might not know, ginger which is one of your kitchen must-have spice, can do same wonder but with little to null side effects. Ginger inhibits the enzymes cyclooxygenase (COX); COX-1 and COX-2. These enzymes make prostaglandins which is responsible for the perceive pain, heat, redness and swelling during inflammation. By stopping the synthesis of COX, classic symptoms of inflammation will be prevented.

Cinnamon (Osmunda cinnamomea)

Packed with a wide array of vitamins and minerals (calcium, chromium, iron, phospurus, potassium, zinc, vits A, B1, B2, B3, and C, etc), cinnamons medical properties overshadowed its previous use as primarily for spices and flavorings. It is often combined with ginger to promote good circulation and digestion in China. In India, cinnamon is integrated in toothpaste ingredient not only for its good flavor but also for its antiseptic property. New researches showed that cinnamon is also good supplement for diabetic sufferers. One active ingredient of cinnamon is the methylhydroxychalcone or MHCP. This compound increases cell’s sensitivity to insulin and prevent receptor blockage for easy transport of glucose into the cell. The increase of glucose uptake into the cell can greatly prevent the onset of hyperglycemia.

Centella (Centella asiatica L.)

Centella asiatica

Other names: Hahanghalo, Panggaga, Pispising, Tagaditak, Takip-suso, Taingan-daga, Tapiñgan-daga, Yahong-yahong, Chi-hsueh Ts'ao, Pennyworth, Gotu Kola, Asian pennywort

Centella has a rounded leaves with kidney shaped base. It can grow in different types of condition and is harvested all throughout the year. This herb is used for many years and was mentioned in several listing of pharmacopeia, most notably in the Ayuverdic medicine wherein the earliest record of this herb dates back some 3000 years ago.