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Herbal Plants: Keep Traditional Medicine Alive


It is important that we not only learn about herbal plants but pass on the knowledge to those around us – including our children, and others we come in contact with. Below is some information that might help you to do that.
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Herbal Plants

Keeping Our Traditional Wisdom Alive.

Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU)
One day, Rita brought her daughter Ana to the village clinic.

Grandma Rosa: “The doctor is not coming today, Rita.”

Rita: “Oh, but Ana has been coughing for a week.”

Grandma Rosa: “For simple sickness like coughing, I used herbal treatments for my children. They are effective.”

Rita: “I would like to learn about them in case the doctor is not here. Besides, medicine is costly nowadays.I have a book on simple and effective traditional cures.”

Grandma Rosa: “Let’s have a look at it, Rita and little Ana!

Grandma Rosa took out her book titled “The Herb that Saved the Chief.”

Rita: “Sure!”

Grandma Rosa: Once upon a time, there was a village surrounded by mountains and valleys. The villagers made their living by farming and raising animals.

One day, the village chief became ill with serious diarrhea. The people gathered around the chief’s house to discuss what to do.

A man said, “If only the medicine man were here, he would have known how to treat the Chief.”

A woman said, “But the medicine man passed away last winter.”

An old woman entered and said “I know which herb can cure the Chief.”

Some did not believe her and tried to make her go away. Others, however, convinced everyone to let her treat the Chief. The old woman took some herbs out and said, “Forest tea leaves can cure diarrhea.”

She started to prepare the medicine. First, she cleaned the leaves thoroughly. Then, she pounded the leaves into small pieces. Next, she put the leaves into 2 cups of boiling water and boiled the mixture further.The mixture cooled. Then, she strained the mixture using a piece of cloth. The strained juice was collected in a small cup. “Now, the Chief can drink this,” she announced. She gave some to the Chief.

Three days later, the village chief became well again. The old woman told the thankful villagers, “Everyone can learn how to make simple herbal treatments like this. It’s part of our ancestors’ wisdom.”

The villagers started learning about herbs and preserving their traditional knowledge.The entire village held a festival to celebrate the Chief’s health. The Chief gave thanks to the old woman, recognizing the importance of traditional wisdom. Young villagers continued to learn the traditional ways from her for many years. Her wisdom was passed on for many generations.


Rita: “I did not know that many common illnesses can be treated with herbs. What herbs in our village are useful, Grandma Rosa?”

Grandma Rosa: “Yes. Even if we have access to health clinics, our local wisdom such as herbal medicine is still useful. These are some herbs that treat cuts and wounds, common colds, even worm infestation! But remember, if the symptoms and conditions do not improve, or become worse, you should go to a health clinic or hospital.

For Common Cold: Five-leaved chaste tree
For Skin Disease: Ringworm bush
For Cuts and Wounds: Guava
For Cough: Ginger
For Diarrhea: Forest tea
For Worm Infestation: Rangoon creeper”

Rita: “What is good for a cough?”

Grandma Rosa: “Here, ginger will help to cure Ana’s cough. I’ll lend you another booklet on herbs, Rita. It shows how to make the medicine.

Rita: “Thank you! I will prepare it when I return home.”

One week later, Ana’s cough was cured.

Ana: “I want to hear more stories from Grandma Rosa!”

Rita: “Yes, let’s go and learn more about herbal plants.”

Rita and Ana tried to find more useful herbs in their village with Grandma Rosa.

Knowledge of medicinal herbs is just one of the many types of wisdom that our ancestors had. Let’s keep them alive for future generations.Here are some common medicinal herbs.
Some people may experience discomfort while using these herbs. If you do, stop its use and go to a clinic.

For diarrhea

Forest tea [Carmona retusa L.]

Method of preparation
Pound the leaves into small pieces. Put 8 tablespoons of the leaves in 2 glasses of boiling water. Boil for 15 minutes. Cool and strain the mixture, collecting the juice. (Refer to pages 6-7)

Take a quarter of the juice 4 times a day. Where to find the herb

Where to find
In thickets and secondary forests.
Leaf size: 1-6 cm long

Safety precautions
The mixture must be freshly prepared daily.
Do not use metallic cookware, since they may react with the herbs.

For cough

Ginger [Zingiber officinale Rosc.]

Method of preparation
Pound the ginger root (one piece, about 7 cm) and boil in 1 cup of boiling water for 15 minutes. Strain the mixture. Sugar or honey may be added to sweeten.

Take 1 cup in morning and evening.

Safety precautions
Wash the ginger root thoroughly.

Where to find the herb
Widely cultivated as condiment for culinary purposes.

For common colds(runny nose, watery eyes,etc.)

Five-leaved chaste tree [Vitex negundo L.]

Method of preparation
Pound the leaves. Put 6 tablespoons of the leaves in 2 glasses of boiling water. Boil further for 15 minutes. Cool and strain the mixture, collecting the juice.

Take a quarter to half of the juice 3 times a day.

Safety precautions
Use clay pots, since metallic pots may react with the herbs. Prepare a fresh mixture daily.

Where to find the herb
Commonly found in thickets and waste places.
Plant height: 2-5m.

For worm infection

Rangoon creeper, Chinese honeysuckle [Quisqualis indica L.]

Method of preparation
Peel the mature fruits and take the following number of kernels.

Adults: 8 to 10
9-12 years old: 6 to 7
6-8 years old: 5 to 6
3-5 years old: 4 to 5

Take the kernels 2 hours after supper. Chew very well, and drink a glass of water after swallowing. If no effects are seen, take the same
dose after 1 week.

Safety precautions
Take only the prescribed number of kernels.

Where to find the herb
In thickets and secondary forests; in hot, dry areas.
Plant height: 7-8m

For cuts and wounds

Guava [Psidium guajava L.]

Method of preparation
Pound and crush the leaves.

Wash the cut or wound with clean water. Apply the pounded leaves to the cut with slight pressure and wrap with the bandage. Change the bandage as needed.

Safety precautions
Observe cleanliness at all times.

Where to find the herb
Common in thickets, secondary forests, at low altitudes. Trees are often grown in backyards and orchards for its fruit.

For skin disease (fungal) e.g. ringworm

Ringworm bush, Ringworm cassia
[Cassia alata L.]

Method of preparation
Pound the leaves. Strain, and collect the juice.

Wash the affected areas of the skin with clean water. Apply the juice thinly on the affected areas in the morning and night for at least 7 days
Safety precautions
Apply the juice up to 1 cm from the edge of the affected area of the skin, to prevent the infection from spreading.

Where to find the herb
In open wastelands near watery places.
Plants height: 1-3m; leaf size: 1.5-2cm

Source: Medicinal Plants, Ludivina S. de Padua, [in the series Philippines Plants], Island Publishing House, inc., Manila (Philippines), 1996.

Things to Remember

1. Be sure you have the correct plant.
2. Use only one herbal preparation at a time.
3. Wash the plants thoroughly before preparation.
4. Observe cleanliness at all times.
5. Do not use metallic pots for herbal preparations.

Illustrated by Untung Sugiharto (Indonesia)
Technical Advisor: Ludivina s. de Padua (Philippines) Asia/Pacific
Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU) 1998

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1 thought on “Herbal Plants: Keep Traditional Medicine Alive”

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