Lagundi by gabyion

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									                            HERBALS AND FOOD SUPPLEMENTS

                            The 10 Best Philippine Medicinal Plants

                              Jaime Z. Galvez Tan MD, MPH
                 Professor, University of the Philippine College of Medicine

Food Supplement

Foodstuffs meant to supplement the normal diet and which are concentrated sources of nutrients
or other substances with a nutritional or physiological function, alone or in combination,
marketed in dose form.

EU Food Supplement Directive 2002/46/CE

Functional Food

A functional food is "consumed as part of a usual diet that is similar in appearance to, or may be,
a conventional food, and is demonstrated to have physiological benefits and/or reduce the risk of
chronic disease beyond basic nutritional functions."

National Research Council Canada


A product isolated or purified from food that is generally sold in medicinal forms not usually
associated with food. A nutraceutical has been demonstrated to have a physiological benefit or
provide protection against chronic disease.

National Research Council Canada

When a functional food aids in the prevention and/or treatment of disease(s) and/or disorder(s)
(except anemia), it is called a nutraceutical. The proposed definition can help form distinction
between functional foods, nutraceuticals, and dietary supplements.
Kalra, EK. Nutraceutical – Definition and Introduction. AAPS PharmSci 2003; 5 (3) Article 25

Introduction to Herbal Medicine

Plants may have been used for medicinal purposes since prehistoric times, as evidenced by eight
species of plants found buried with the remains of a Neanderthal man living 60,000 years ago in
the Shanidar Cave in Iraq. These same plants are still being widely used in ethnomedicine
around the world today.

The number of higher plant species on earth is 250,000, and it is estimated that 35,000 to 70,000
species have, at one time or another, been used in some cultures for medicinal purposes. The
World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 80 percent of the world's population presently
uses herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care.

Herbal medicine is a major component in all traditional medicine systems. In fact, the word
“drug” as we know it today has been, according to some sources, derived from the Swedish
“druug” which means “dried plant”. It is only during the rapid development of physical sciences
in the 20th century that herbal medicine was slowly replaced by chemical drugs as the dominant
form of pharmacotherapy. But the past several years have witnessed an increasing demand for
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) with herbal medicine being the most
commonly used CAM therapy (18.9% - with exclusion of the use of prayer) according to a
survey released in May 2004 by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative


Phytochemicals are chemical compounds produced by plants as part of their normal metabolic
activities. These include primary metabolites such as carbohydrates, fats, and pigments, and
secondary metabolites which are substances found in particular plants serving various functions
ranging from pheromones that attract pollinators to toxins that deter predators. Many of these
phytochemicals have been identified and isolated to produce about 25% of the modern drugs we
know today.

Plants produce a plethora of these pharmacologically active phytochemicals but most are
derivatives of a few biochemical motifs:

   1. Carbohydrates and Related Compounds
       Carbohydrates are the first products of photosynthesis from which the plant builds its
         structural skeleton.
       Mannitol from Fraxinus ornus is used as an osmotic diuretic and laxative.
       Psyllium husk from Plantago psyllium is used as a bulk-forming laxative.
       Pectin from citrus rind has gastric protectant and toxin adsorbent properties.
   2. Lipids
       Lipids primarily serve to store energy for the plant
       Castor oil from Ricinus communis is a stimulant cathartic.
       Various seed and vegetable oils are used as dietary supplements, emollients and bases
         in various topical drugs and cosmetics.
   3. Glycosides
       Glycosides are sugar ethers that play an important role in the regulatory, protective,
         and sanitary functions of the plant.
       Barbaloin from Aloe barbadensis, sennosides from Cassia acutifolia, cascarosides
         from Rhamnus purshianus have cathartic properties.
       The anticoagulant dicumarol is derived from coumarin from Melilotus officinalis.
       Psoralens from Ammi majus is used to treat vitiligo.
       Digitoxin from Digitalis purpurea is used to treat congestive heart failure and
   4. Volatile Oils
       Volatile oils are odorous principles found in various plant parts which may serve as
         insect repellants for protection or insect attractants for pollination.
       Peppermint oil is a widely used flavoring with carminative, stimulant, and
         counterirritant properties.
       Clove oil is employed as a toothache remedy with antiseptic and carminative
       Wintergreen oil from Gaultheria procumbens has local irritant, antiseptic, and
         antirheumatic properties.
       Various aromatic oils such as chamomile and lavender are used in aromatherapy.
   5. Resins and Resin Combinations
       Resins are complex amorphous end-products of plant metabolism.
       Cannabis resin contains tetrahydrocannabinol used to control nausea in cancer
       Capsicum oleoresin is used as a rubefacient and stimulant.
       Myrrh from Commiphora molmol is used in mouthwashes as an astringent.
       Oleoresin from white pine has expectorant properties.
   6. Alkaloids
       Alkaloids are organic nitrogenous compounds occurring in various plant parts
         distributed among certain plant families and genera.
       Atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine are anticholinergic alkaloids found in certain
         plants of the family Solanacae.
       Cocaine from Erythroxylum coca served as the model for a large number of synthetic
         local anesthetics.
       Quinine from Cinchina succirubra continues to be used for malaria in many parts of
         the world.
       Tubocurarine from Strychnos castelnaei is employed as a skeletal muscle relaxant in
         surgical procedures.


Tyler VE et al, Pharmacognosy 9th ed., 1988, Lea and Febiger, Philadelphia.

                      Vitex negundo Linn.
Scientific Names
                      Vitex leucoxylon Blanco.
Common Name           Lagundi (Ibn., Tag., Bik., P. Bis.)
English Name          Five-leaved Chaste Tree
Local                 Dabtan (If.), Dangla (Ilk.), Kamalan (Tag.), Liñgei (Bon.), Limo-limo
and Other Names       (Ilk.), Sagarai (Bag.), Turagay (Bis.), Agno-casto (Span.)

The Plant

Lagundi is an erect, branched tree or shrub, 2 to 5 meters in height. 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 purposes 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 MEDLINE]

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]

                      Blumea balsamifera (Linn.) DC.
Scientific Names
                      Conya balsamifera Linn.
Common Name           Sambong (Tag.)
                      Blumea Camphor
English Names
                      Ngai Camphor Plant
                      Alibum (P. Bis.), Alimon (P. Bis.), Ayoban (Bis.), Bukadkad (S. L. Bis.),
                      Bukodkud (Bis.), Dalapot (C. Bis.), Gabuen (Bis.), Gintin-gintin (Bis.),
Local                 Hamlibon (Bis.), Kaliban (Tagb.), Kalibura (Tagb.), Kambibon (Bis.),
and Other Names       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]

                      Momordica charantia Linn.
Scientific Names      Momordica balsamina Blanco.
                      Momordica cylindrical Blanco.
Common Name           Ampalaya (Tag.)
                      Bitter Gourd
English Names
                      Balsam Apple, Balsam Pear, African Cucumber, Tuberculated Momordica
                      Amargoso (Span.), Ampalia (Tag.), Apalaya (Tag.), Apalia (Pamp.), Apape
                      (Ibn.), Apapet (Itn.), Margoso (Tag.), Palia (Bis., Bon., If.), Pariu (Bik.,
and Other Names
                      Ilk., Sul.), Pulia (Sub.), Saligun (Sul.)

The Plant

Ampalaya is a climbing vine with tendrils growing up to 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]

                      Peperomia pellucida Linn.
Scientific Names      Piper pellucida Linn., Micropiper pellucidum Miq., Peperomia
                      hymenophylla Miq., Peperomia bilineata Miq., Micropiper tenellum Klotz
Common Names
English Name
Local                 Ulasimang-bato, Ikmo-ikmohan, Sida-sida, Sinaw-sinaw, Tagulinaw,
and Other Names       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 this 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 complexion 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]

                       Orthosiphon aristatus (Blume) Miq.
Scientific Names
                       Ocimum aristatum Blume, Orthosiphon stamineus Benth.
                       Balbas-pusa (Tag.)
Common Names
                       Kabling-gubat (Tag.)
English Name           Cat’s Whisker
Local                  Kabling-parang (Tag.)
and Other Names        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

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 grams 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]
                                        LUYANG DILAW

                      Curcuma longa Linn.
Scientific Names
                      Curcuma xanthorrhiza Naves
Common Name           Luyang Dilaw (Tag.)
English Name          Long Tumeric
                      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.
and Other Names
                      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 10 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 reduce 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


   1. WHO Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants, Vol. 1, 1999, World Health
      Organization, Geneva.
   2. Higdon, J. Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University. 2006.

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]

                      Centella asiatica Linn.
Scientific Names
                      Hydrocotyle asiatica Linn.
Common Name           Takip-kohol
English Names
                      Gotu Kola, Asian pennywort, Indian pennywort, Indian hydrocotyle
                      Hahanghalo (C. Bis.), Panggaga (Sub.), Pispising (Bon.), Tagaditak (Iv.),
                      Takip-suso (Tag.), Taingan-daga (Tag.), Tapiñgan-daga (Tag.), Yahong-
and Other Names
                      yahong (S-L. Bis.), Chi-hsueh Ts'ao (Chin.)

The Plant

Takip-kohol is a prostrate, creeping, sparingly hairy or nearly 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

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,

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]

                      Lagerstroemia speciosa Linn.
Scientific Names      Munchausia speciosa Linn., Lagestroemia reginae Roxb., Lagerstroemia
                      flos-reginae Retz.
Common Name           Banaba (Tag.)
English Name
                      Agaro (Sbl.), Bugarom (S. L. Bis.), Duguam (S. KL. Bis.), Kauilan (P.
Local                 Bis.), Makablos (Pang.), Mitla (Pamp.), Nabulong (Neg.), Pamalauagon (S.
and Other Names       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-ovate, 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 dried 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]

                      Moringa oleifera Lam.
Scientific Names      Moringa nux-ben Perr., Moringa pterygosperma Gaertn., Guilandina
                      moringa Linn.
Common Name           Malunggay (Tag.)
                      Ben Oil Tree
English Names
                      Horseradish Tree
                      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.),
and Other Names
                      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,

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]
                                    VIRGIN COCONUT OIL

                      Cocos nucifera Linn.
Scientific Names
                      Cocos mamillaris Blanco.
Common Name           VCO (Virgin Coconut Oil)
English Names         VCO (Virgin Coconut Oil)
                      Coco (Span.), Lubi (C.Bis., P. Bis.), Oñgot (Ibn.), Gira-gira (Sbl.),
                      Ponlaing (Sub.), I-ing (It.), Punlaing (Yak.), Iniug (Ibn.), Uñgut (Pamp.),
and Other Names
                      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]

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