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Start Your Own Herbs and Spices Almanac

Updated on April 20, 2019
travel_man1971 profile image

Ireno is now a treasurer of his barangay since 2018. He just took the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) last March 24,2019.

Starting your own Herbs and Spices Almanac will inspire others to do their own research on the availability and importance it will give to family members and visiting friends. The idea popped in my mind as I gaze at my medicinal garden that is my favorite morning site while enjoying the rays of the sun.

There's an herbalist in our place that serves as my mentor in knowing the local names of the available herbs and spices that are used as first aid in combating diseases .

This hub will be changing from time to time as this hubber will continue collecting fresh samples of other herbs and spices that abound some parts of my town.

I thought about this project since April this year. I've seen and read from science books how early alchemists or scientists patiently collected herbs and spices' samples and conducted treatment to patients at different proportions to know the potency of those herbal finds.

You'll notice that most of us are clinging to the basic healing sources, such as herbs and spices.

My experiences on herbal plants and spices were:

  1. scratches and simple cuts and wounds being cured by Moors' herb or bulong Moros;
  2. pounded black pepper seeds can lessen the effects of cold and runny nose;
  3. oregano extract cured my ringing ear due to water that accidentally filled in during swimming;
  4. artamesa and yerba buena from Mint family for colds and headaches; and
  5. madre de cacao can lessen the itchiness on my skin due to mosquito bites.

Nevertheless, I can conclude that an herbal garden is so helpful when you want to cling to a more basic and no-side effect cure on illnesses.

Even terminal diseases can still be cured by herbal plants according to a local scientist and inventor aptly named as Super Lady (aka as Dr, Winie R. Elfa of Camarines Sur,Philippines) whom I used to know during my radio stint. Her block time program is so popular that I intend to interview here one of these days and make a hub regarding her mission in life to eradicate cancer in the society, through her advocacy against it. Most of her patients are already rejected by hospitals but with her macrobiotic program, those patients are continue living and many of them are still living even doctors already put a deadline on their lives.

This leads to my realization that knowledge on herbs and spices can help us realize that the treatment and healing of health disturbances should begin at home. With the proper guidance on mixing different herbs and spices, you can produce a potent treatment for a particular ailment.

My Herb Garden and the Papaya (Photo by Travel Man March 31, 2011)
My Herb Garden and the Papaya (Photo by Travel Man March 31, 2011)

I would say it's an 'incidental' herb garden because I used to grow seeds on it (papaya, oranges, tomatoes) before transplanting it. I planted the herbs for cooking purposes and medicinal applications, too.

Oregano is the most adoptable herb and it grows rapidly, overcoming other herbs in the area. I was lucky to grow the mayanao (red violet in color), romero and camangcao.

As for the spices, I just started growing black pepper at the elevated part of our lot just at the roadside but sheltered with ipil-ipil trees and mango tree.

For maintenance, I always shoo farm chickens away from the plants and some stray piglets of my neighbor. Even my dog, Brownie, sometimes eat some leaves of wild herbs to heal himself from colds and bites (from dog fight)

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Yerba Buena (Photo by Travel Man)Oregano and Mayana (Photo by Travel Man)Artamesa (Photo by Travel Man)Camangcao (Photo by Travel Man)
Yerba Buena (Photo by Travel Man)
Yerba Buena (Photo by Travel Man)
Oregano and Mayana (Photo by Travel Man)
Oregano and Mayana (Photo by Travel Man)
Artamesa (Photo by Travel Man)
Artamesa (Photo by Travel Man)
Camangcao (Photo by Travel Man)
Camangcao (Photo by Travel Man)

Mother knows best

Our place maintain a medicinal garden located at the vacant lot near the barangay hall. Some local herbs growing abundantly are oregano, yerba buena, mayanao (with red violet leaves), artamesa, lakad-bulan, kamangkaw (spearmint) and some wild hers like tawa-tawa, bagangan, puro-pungso.

Seven herbs are usually mix by my mother with toasted rice, boil it then after cooling; drink the concoction diluted with water. It's a sort of herbal tea that is effective in colon cleansing, thereby eradicating certain illnesses that weaken the body.

For a starter, my mother uses this herbal mixes of homegrown and wild finds:

  1. bark of anonang
  2. artamesa
  3. lakad-bulan
  4. kamangkaw (spearmint)
  5. bagangan (wild)
  6. puru-pungso (wild)
  7. kamoteng orig (wild)

Samples on my Herbs and Spices Almanac

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Self-Art Cover by Travel ManOreganoDill Weed
Self-Art Cover by Travel Man
Self-Art Cover by Travel Man
Dill Weed
Dill Weed

How I do it?

My Herbs & Spices Almanac requires ample time to complete. Some data are existing online, but local herbs didn't fit the description of some medical names. That's why, I'm using some of the local terms; looking the English name on Encyclopedia and Wikipedia for verification.

I had to use clean bond paper and spare cover or folder to keep my data intact.

Day 1 - I took some pictures of the available herbs on my medicinal garden. You can see the imposing papaya plant there. I had to single out photos of oregano, spearmint, mayanao and yerba buena or romero.

Day 2 - Took pictures of wild herbs used by people here for immediate cure for minor cuts and colds. I single out photos of tawa-tawa, bagangan, puru-pungso and bulong Moros.

Day 3 - I had to compile old, but clean bond paper and clean folder to start off with my project.

(I had to rest for awhile because some invitations came from the community to follow up things in our town. I saved first this hub and saw it's score rising even, though I didn't included the gist of this project.)

Day 4 - For fresh leaves of the available herb, I had to seal it on plastic covering that I bought prior to this project. I labeled it and paste on the bond paper and scribbled the medicinal benefits of particular herb and spice.

Day 5 - I had to collect samples of wild herbs that grow in our backyard and labeled it, too. I had to search online if there are already laboratory tests conducted for its medical values and toxicity level.

Day 6 - I compiled it in a secure folder. I'll book-bind it later.

Fresh Spices at Home

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Fresh black pepper leaf and its  seeds (Photo by Travel Man)Fresh Lemon Grass (Photo by Travel Man)Fresh Dill Weed (Photo by Travel Man)
Fresh black pepper leaf and its  seeds (Photo by Travel Man)
Fresh black pepper leaf and its seeds (Photo by Travel Man)
Fresh Lemon Grass (Photo by Travel Man)
Fresh Lemon Grass (Photo by Travel Man)
Fresh Dill Weed (Photo by Travel Man)
Fresh Dill Weed (Photo by Travel Man)

Spices at home

Aside from the the usual garlic and onion plus hot pepper (siling labuyo) spices, I've grown some spices to enhance the taste of our tropical viands include:

  1. lemon grass -the most common. It grows naturally in tropical countries, like the Philippines. In Mindanao, there are many lemongrass farms, commissioned by factories that are making hair shampoos in the country.
  2.  dill weed - usually ignored by rural folks and only planted as garden item. I've known its uses when I went on board ship as a seafarer. We usually cook green peas with lots of it for the Greeks. They're also fond of it in fish stew and baked potatoes.
  3.  lubas (sour leaves) - I don't know the corresponding English word but this is often used on fish and meat stews. I used to chew its sour leaves for fresher breath.
  4. ginger - The red ones are quite expensive; unlike the white ones that grow fast in tropical climate.
  5. black pepper - Luckily, I was able to let it grow at the slope at the front yard of our house.

The 'Wild Ones'

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Wild herb Tawa-Tawa (Photo by Travel Man)Puru-pungso (Photo by Travel Man)Bagangan (Photo by Travel Man)Bulong Moros (Photo by Travel Man)
Wild herb Tawa-Tawa (Photo by Travel Man)
Wild herb Tawa-Tawa (Photo by Travel Man)
Puru-pungso (Photo by Travel Man)
Puru-pungso (Photo by Travel Man)
Bagangan (Photo by Travel Man)
Bagangan (Photo by Travel Man)
Bulong Moros (Photo by Travel Man)
Bulong Moros (Photo by Travel Man)

Herbs - The Wild Ones

When dengue fever invaded the homes of many Filipinos and victimized many children and young adults as well, some families who cannot afford fees on hospitalization cling to the so-called tawa-tawa (Filipino word variant for smile). I uprooted one, cleaned it and boil it whole, along with leaves stem and roots. When cooled, I drank it and it tasted sweet. No wonder, black ants frequent it's flower as it attracts other insects to sip its sweetness.

My cousin's friend, also a security guard related to me that his daughter recovered fully when they made a tonic drink out of tawa-tawa. The number of his blood platelets became normal again.

Other wild herbs that I collected, include:

  • bulong Moros - It means medicine from Moors or as the name suggested. My mother used to pound its leaves and applied the green juice at the open wound, whenever I had an accident when I was a child.
  • bagangan - used as local medication for dog bites. When I experienced it last February 13, 2011 (Please refer to my other hub on Dog Bite), my cousin who's our resident dog bite first aider instructed me to pound a handful of bagangan, dilute the juice with hot water then drink it. It is similar to the carabao grass, but I don't know the English name.
  • Puro-pungso - has a distinct balmy odor. Also serves as part of seven mixed herbs for tonic drink to relieve gas pain, colds, headaches and other antioxidant properties.
  • kamoteng orig - Pigs used to dig it for its little roots. We used to eat it, too, during our childhood days. It's also part of seven herb mixes used as tonic drink.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2011 Ireno Alcala


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    • travel_man1971 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ireno Alcala 

      6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @shina: Thank you for appreciating my work. Probably, this is my productive venture studying, collecting and archiving the endemic herbs in my locality.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      keep up the good work

    • travel_man1971 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ireno Alcala 

      6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @Thelma Alberts: Salamat uli Ma'am Thelma for gracing my hub. I love this work and pinned it, too. I was just inspired to document/record the available herbs and spices in our place.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      6 years ago from Germany and Philippines

      Very informative hub! Now I know some of the names of the herbs that I have in my garden in the Philippines. Thank you.

    • travel_man1971 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ireno Alcala 

      7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @joy: Salamat, Manay Joy sa pag-apreciar kan sakong ginibong artikulo. Maray man po ta narumdoman mo pa.

      I hope it will be an added information to others, too. They should also research on the available herbs in their areas.

    • profile image


      7 years ago


      maogmahon ako sa mga terms mo na bicol.

      nalingawan ko na ang mga yan, but because of you na refresh ang mind ko.


      it's truly informative.


    • travel_man1971 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ireno Alcala 

      8 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @thesailor: Yes, colon problems are common among seafarers. You should always drink herbal tea or bring some dried herb leaves (oregano, etc.) because carcass consumption are frequent on board ship.

      Frozen foods, especially meat can be hazardous to health, so watch out and be careful with what you eat.

    • travel_man1971 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ireno Alcala 

      8 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @Arian Rey: You better try it. Mine here in the backyard are growing fast due to regular rain showers.

      It can also detoxify our colon with it. Just remember to observe the toxicity level of this pure wild herb. Better dilute it first with water, through boiling then drink it hot or cold.

    • travel_man1971 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ireno Alcala 

      8 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @Romano Arnesto: We have to be vigilant the effectiveness of medical cure these days. It's always good to know the cure that's available in your backyard...

    • thesailor profile image


      8 years ago from Seven Seas

      Most of the sailors bring dried herbs for medical purposes. Colon cleansing issue or detoxification is an 'in' thing among these men. With all the preserved foods on board ship (animal carcasses, chicken and fish and frozen vegetables), herbs and spices are good alternatives for self-healing.

      Thanks for sharing this hub!

    • Arian Rey profile image

      Arian Rey 

      8 years ago from Pearl of the Orient Seas (PHILIPPINES)

      I like to try that tawa-tawa. Almost all attest to its healing properties, especially dengue fever.

    • Romano Arnesto profile image

      Romano Arnesto 

      8 years ago from Philippines

      Nice collection on herbs and spices. These days, it's important to know the medicinal purposes of many unnamed grasses around us, that turned into wild herbs or with medical purposes!

    • travel_man1971 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ireno Alcala 

      8 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @earthbound1974:Yes, its a lot of personal researches on local herbs and spices. I'm still asking for the English translation of local herb terms. I'm hoping to upgrade this hub, soon!

    • earthbound1974 profile image


      8 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      This is a very personal collection on herbs and spices. Congrats for your work, travel man!


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