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Folk Medicine: Tawa tawa and others
Indigenous Cure: Tawa tawa and others
In spite of the advance of our civilization, there are still a lot of things that we can learn from our indigenous peoples. Take for example the use of our herbs to cure common sickness and disease, even the dreaded plague of HIV, dengue fever, AH1N1. The following examples will suffice.
“Tawa tawa” as accepted dengue cure in the rural areas seems to be disapproved by the doctors in the Philippines as televised in the interview with the official of the department of health. In place of suggesting and taking the advantage of this gift of nature Dr. Tayag said that it is still advisable to go to the hospital. But, how about those in the rural areas that could not be reached by health workers, are they going to be left to fate? Anyway, it is true that unless it is approved by authorities it could not be considered as medicine, just like the case of “lagundi”. It is sad to say that multinationals are getting rich from our herbs.
The use of Tawa tawa was originally for eye infection. The white sap is applied to the infected eye for three times a day and it is effective for sore eyes or any eye infections. Since it was good for eye infections, rural herbalists tried it for recurring fever and it was effective too. Hence, it was used in dengue cases because of the characteristic of dengue to be a recurring fever. But it could not actually cure fever, but its function is in rehydrating the patient. In dengue Tawa tawa helps in preventing bleeding.
I had a friend who got hospitalized because of dengue way back 1989. The patient ate the “balut” that I left on the table for my snack later. When the platelet count was taken we found out that it went higher. Thinking that “balut” might have help, I bought six more and left for my work. She did eat them all and at around five o’clock in the afternoon that day she was released because her platelet count was already normal. My hypothesis is that, if “balut” is high in cholesterol as it is not recommended for those hypertensive patients, therefore it might help in boosting platelet count. For those that do not eat “balut” the quill’s eggs might be a good substitute for “balut.” I kept on telling friends about it and twenty years after, my advice reached back to me. What I mean is that it was the same advice that was suggested to us. In other words those who heard from me circulated the same to others.
In Manila, we have a neighbor that suffered dengue. I suggested “Tawa tawa” but since they could not find “Tawa tawa” they used Gatorade instead particularly for kids because it is hard for them to give “Tawa tawa” extract. The logic behind it is that, it will boost energy and remain active. Viral infection will complicate if the patient is weak.
Because of the cost of hospitalization rural cures came to the open. Aside from Tawa tawa, there is also the extract of young papaya leaves. Ripe papaya as used in preventing wound infection is popular years ago. But among Maranaos, the use of the extract from young papaya leaves is popular. The extract function as anti-biotic hence it is used as cure of fever. So the combination of Tawa tawa or talawatawa with papaya leaves extract is a good cure. While papaya extract destroys bacterial infection that caused the fever, if it continues, Tawa tawa hinder bleeding. To boost the platelet count, they give Durian to the patient. Durian functions like the “balut” or quill eggs or (pugo).
In preparing Tawa tawa, it is better to include the roots when boiling it. In my experience, how many plants do not matter as long as the amount of water that remains after boiling is one half of the original volume. If the roots are included, it must be washed thoroughly and it is advisable to get Tawa tawa early in the morning. If it could be avoided that there are residues of soils in it, the use of strainer is advisable.
While it is a mistake to bring the patient to the hospital when the condition is already acute, that is, the patient is already bleeding, but the use of the above rural remedies might help before going to hospitals.
Sambong or “alibhon” is for aromatic bath particularly for those who had just come from sickness or giving birth. It is also good for urinary tract infection. One Sama herbalist told me that it is also a good cure for fever and kidney problems. For bath preparation, Sambong leaves are boiled and the water from which the leaves are boiled is mixed with the water for bath. When it is used as a cure, leaves as boiled and when the boiling water is half the original volume, the water is cooled and taken for three times a day one hour after eating. This is done for three days. When it is used for kidney cure, five young plants as tall as one foot is uprooted and cleaned to wash away soil from the roots and boiled with one liter of water. When it evaporated to one half liter, it is cooled and taken three times a day for two weeks.
It must be noted here that herbs are only remedies but not medicines per se, it has no therapeutic effect, if it has, it still need scientific study and approval of authorized offices before it is so declared. It is still advisable to get a professional help from doctors but it is wrong to discourage its use. In a country where hospitals are inaccessible to the majority of the people from the rural areas, aside from the cost that it entails, the use of local herbal remedies is the only way to help them. So the only way to help them is to teach them how to process and apply these folk medicines properly.