Health Power of Makabuhay Extract

Strange Vine in the Wilds

As a boy scout in my grade school years at St Patrick School, I and my troop enjoyed venturing into the forest. We saw new and strange things out there, one of which was a scary looking wild vine with stems like that of an Octopus' tentacles. I often saw it in the wilds we went through--at school, along rivers, at Teachers Camp in Baguio, and on Mt Makiling in Laguna, to name a few. In appearance, you'd easily connect it as something ominous used in a witchcraft ritual.

Only lately, in my researches on herbs and plants in deep Asia, did I find out its name, which is Makabuhay (or "pro life") in our local vernacular. In my mind it's always been "monster vine" up to now. But even with my prejudice against it as a boy scout, I'd always imagined it to be an herb with extracts strong in health benefits. Strange herbs are almost always like that. And I was right--or at least, according to what rural folks say about its medicinal value.

For starters, it's allegedly an effective germicidal and organic pesticide.

Makabuhay "Wine" for Ailments and Farming

Old rural folks boiled the Makabuhay leaves and stems and the resultant "wine" or essence (the clear liquid that appears above once the sediments settle down during fermentation) was used for an herbal extract health remedy. Or sometimes, they simply crushed the stems and that was it.

The essence or crushed stems are then sometimes mixed with coconut oil and used to get rid of scabies, athlete's foot, wounds and skin itches, and even cancerous wounds. It is also effective against flatulence in kids, and rheumatism in adults, among other ailments. Some older folks claim its strong effects even against tropical ulcers (also called jungle rot or Aden ulcer which is a wound caused by germs like mycobacteria. It is often seen in areas with tropical climates).

Makabuhay extract or tonic, they say, is also ideal against fevers (it's a febrifuge) and enhances appetite and aids in digestion (hence stomachic). It supposedly boosts the immune system, too. For women having difficulty with menstrual flow, the extract is also said to help increase it. In fact, in many rural places in deep Asia, it is popular for this menstrual effect, easing difficulties during such cycles. Old folks also say never to use Makabuhay on pregnant women, though.

Sometimes, makabuhay stems look like a thinner version of a "kamoteng kahoy" stem.
Sometimes, makabuhay stems look like a thinner version of a "kamoteng kahoy" stem.

In Ayurvedic medicine, Makabuhay is believed to promote longevity and intelligence. Some clinical studies suggest the plant has antioxidant, cardiotonic, antidiarrheal, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, hypolipidemic (correcting cholesterol levels) and antiproliferative properties.

Some farmers, on the other hand, say Makabuhay is an ideal organic pesticide against rice insects, especially when mixed with Madre de Cacao and red pepper.

Sometimes, you'd see the Makabuhay tonic in bottles with some stems still in them. They are sold mostly nearby big churches in local cities. The tonic look golden, like wine.

I often mistake Makabuhay with Abutra for their similar health effects and appearance. Or are they the same thing?

Caution Though

But before you try making your own Makabuhay tonic, tea, or balm, make sure to consult a competent alternative medicine practitioner. Better yet, seek the advice of a medical doctor who is also an alternative medicine specialist. I'm glad that a growing number of them are in the Philippines, providing people with safe alternative health and healing remedies, like the Makabuhay extract.

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