Last Updated 20 Apr 2022

Traditional and Alternative Health Care Practice

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The tropical climate of the Philippines has made it possible for thousands of plants and vegetation to thrive more in lush forests. Many herbal plants have been tapped because of its efficacy against common ailments and the practice of the use of herbal plants as medicines have stretched as far as during the pre-Spanish era, and are still being practiced until these modern times. The Department of Health (DOH) advocated the use of herbal plants as what is considered a form of primary health care and as an answer to the increasing cost of synthetic drugs in the market.

These 10 DOH-approved herbal plants are found within the country and have been proven to treat common ailments, according to the thorough research done by National Science Development Board, and other government and private agencies and persons. Its importance in providing better health care was not overlooked. In 1992, The DOH, through former Health Secretary and Senator Juan M. Flavier made a health program by virtue of Administrative Order No. 12. This program was known as the Traditional Medicine Program, with its main function of promoting and advocating the use of traditional medicine across the country.

In 1994, the drafting of a traditional medicine law was initiated in order to institutionalize the program. Then by 1997, President Fidel V. Ramos saw the promising potential of traditional medicines both in the health of Filipinos and the economy and timely approved the Republic Act 8423, also known as the Traditional and Alternative Medicine Act (TAMA) of 1997. This law then gave rise to the government-owned and controlled corporation known as the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PITAHC).

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It is attached to the DOH in delivering safe, effective, and affordable proper traditional and alternative (TAHC) health care products and services to the people.

The 10 DOH-approved herbal plants are listed below, along with their uses, preparations, and names in different places/dialects within the country.


  • Lagundi (Vitex negundo)
  • Kamalan (Tag. )
  • Limo-limo (Ilk. )
  • Tugas (Ceb. )
  • Dabtan (If. )
  • Molave aso (Sul. )
  • 5 leaves chaste tree (English)

Lagundi is a shrub type of plant growing wild in vacant lots and wasteland. Matured branches are planted. The flowers are blue and bell-shaped. The small fruits turn black when ripe. It is better to collect the leaves when are in bloom.


For asthma, cough, and fever – boil raw fruits or leaves in 2 glasses of water for15 minutes until the water left in only 1 glass (decoction). Strain. Leaves should be chopped and the following dosages of the decoction are given according to age group: Dried leaves/Fresh leaves Adult4 tbsp. 6tbsp. 7-12 yrs. 2 tbsp. 3 tbsp. 2-6 yrs. 1 tbsp. 1 ½ tbsp.

For dysentery, colds, and pain in any part of the body as in influenza – boil a handful of leaves and flowers in water to produce a glass full of decoction and drink it three times a day. For skin diseases (dermatitis, scabies ulcer, eczema) and wounds – prepare a decoction from a handful of leaves. Wash and clean the skin/wound with the decoction.

For headache – crush leaves and may be applied on the forehead.

For rheumatism, sprain and contusions, insect bites – pound the leaves and apply on the affected part.

For aromatic bath for sick patients – prepare leaf decoction for use in sick and newly delivered patients.


  • Yerba (Hierba)
  • Buena (Mentha cordifelia)
  • Herba Buena (most dialects)
  • Hierba/Yerba Buena (Spanish)
  • Hilbas (Dav. , Ley. )
  • Opiz Ablebana (If. )
  • Malipuen (Als. )
  • Peppermint, mint (English)

Buena is a small multi-branching aromatic herb. The leaves are small, elliptical, and with a toothed margin. The stem creeps to the ground and develops roots. It may be also propagated through cuttings.


For pain in different parts of the body as headache, stomach ache – boil chopped leaves in 2 glasses of water for 15 minutes. Cool and strain. Dried leavesFresh leves Adult6 tbsp. 4 tbsp. 7-12 yrs.? tbsp. of adult dose Divide decoction into two parts and drink one part every three hours.

For rheumatism, arthritis and headache – crush the fresh leaves and squeeze sap. Massage sap on painful parts with eucalyptus.

For cough and cold (serves as an expectorant) – get about 10 fresh leaves and soak in a glass of hot water. Drink as tea.

For swollen gums – steep 6 g. of fresh plant in a glass of boiling water for 30 minutes. Use the solution as a gargle.

For toothache – cut fresh plant and squeeze sap. Soak a piece to cotton in the sap and insert this in aching tooth cavity. Mouth should be rinsed by gargling salt solution before inserting the cotton dipped with plant sap.

To prepare a salt solution: add 5 g. of table salt to one glass of water. For menstrual and gas pain – soak a handful of leaves in a glass of boiling water. Drink infusion. It induces menstrual flow and sweating.

For nausea and fainting – crush leaves and apply at nostrils of patients.

For insect bites – may be prepared in two ways:

  1. Crush leaves and apply the juice on the affected part.
  2. Pound leaves until paste-like. Rub this on the affected part.

For pruritis – boil the plant alone or with eucalyptus in water. Uses decoction as a wash on the affected area.


  • Sambong (Blumea balsamifera)
  • Alibhon Alimon (Vis. )
  • Kambihon, Lakdanbulan (Vis. )
  • Ayohan, Bulaklak, Ga buen, Kaliban (Tag.)
  • Gintin-gintin, Haliban/Camphor (English)

Sambong is a plant that reaches 1 to 3 meters in height with rough hairy leaves. Young plants around the mother plant may be separated when they have three or more leaves.


For anti-edema, diuretic, and anti-urolithiasis – boil chopped leaves in a glass of water for 15 minutes until one glassful remains. Cool and strain. Dried leaves/Fresh leaves Adult 4 tbsp. 6 tbsp. 7-12 yrs. ½ tbsp. of adult does Divide decoction into 3 parts. Drink one part 3 times a day.

Note: Sambong is not a medicine for kidney infection.


  • Tsaang Gubat (Carmona retusa)
  • Alibungog (Vis. )
  • Kalabonog, Maragued (Ilk. )
  • Kalimunog, Taglokot, Talibunog, Tsa (Tag. )
  • Malatadian (Gad. )

Tsaang- Gubat is a shrub with small, shiny nice-looking leaves that grows in wild uncultivated areas and forests. Mature stems are used for planting.


For diarrhea – boil the following amount of chopped leaves in 2 glasses of water for 15 minutes or until the amount of water goes down to 1 glass. Cool and strain. Dried leaves/Fresh leaves Adult10 tbsp. 12 tbsp. 7-12 yrs. 5 tbsp. 6 tbsp. 2-6 yrs. 2 ½ tbsp. 3 tbsp. Divide decoction into 4 parts. Let the patient drink 1 part every 3 hours. For stomach ache – wash leaves and chop. Boil chopped leaves in 1 glass of water for 15 minutes. Cool and filter/strain. Dried leaves/Fresh leaves Adult2 tbsp. 3 tbsp. 7-12 yrs. 1 tbsp. 1 ½ tbsp.


  • Niyug-Niyogan (Quisqualis indica L. )
  • Balitadham, Pnones, Pinio, Bono (Bis. )
  • Bawe-bawe (Pamp. )
  • Kasumbal, Talolong (Bik. )
  • Tartarau (Ilk. )

Burma creeper, Chinese honeysuckle (English) Niyug-Niyogan is a vine which bears tiny fruits and grows wild in backyards. The seed must come from mature, dried but newly opened fruits. It is propagated through stem cuttings about 20 cm. in height.


For anti-helmintic purposes – used to expel roundworms which cause ascariasis. The seeds are taken 2 hours after supper. If no worms are expelled, the doses may be repeated after one week.

  • Adults 8-10 seeds
  • 7-12 yrs. 6-7 seeds
  • 6-8 yrs. 5-6 seeds
  • 4-5 yrs. 4-5 seeds

Caution: Not to be given to children below four years old.


  • Bayabas (Psidium guajava L. )
  • Guyabas, Kalimbahin, Tayabas (Tag. )
  • Bagabas (Ig. )
  • Bayabo (Ibm. )
  • Bayawas (Bik. , Pang. )
  • Biabas (Sul. )
  • Guyabas (Ilk. )
  • Guava (English)

Bayabas is a tree about 4-5 meters high with tiny white flowers with round or oval fruits that are eaten raw.

It is propagated through seeds.


For washing wounds – may be used twice a day

For diarrhea – may be taken 3-4 days twice a day

For relief of toothache and as a gargle – a warm decoction is used for gargle. Freshly pounded leaves are used for toothache. Guava leaves are to be washed well and chopped. Boil for 15 minutes at low fire. Do not cover the pot. Cool and strain before use.


  • Akapulco (Cassia alata L. )
  • Bayabas-bayabasan, Kapurko, Kantada, Katandang Aso, Pakagonkon, Sonting (Tag. )
  • Andadasi, Andadasi-a dakdakol, Andadasi-bugbugtong (Ilk. )
  • Adadasi (Ting. )
  • Ancharasi (Ig.)
  • Andalan (Sul. )
  • Bayabasin, Bikas-bikas (Bik. , Tag. , Bis. )
  • Kasitas (bik. , Bis. )
  • Snting, Palo china (Bis. )
  • Pakayomkom Kastila (Pamp. )
  • Ringworm bush or shrub (English)


For anti-fungal purposes (Tinea flava, ringworm, athlete’s foot, and scabies) – fresh, mature leaves are pounded. Apply to the affected part 1-2 times a day.


  • Ulasimang Bato (Peperonia pellucida)
  • Pansit-pansitan (Tag. )

Ulasimang Bato is a weed with heart-shaped leaves that grow in shady parts of the garden and yard.


For lower uric acid (rheumatism and gout)

Preparation: Wash the leaves well.

One and a half cup leaves are boiled in two glassfuls of water over a low fire. Do not cover the pot. Cool and strain. Divide into three parts and drink each part three times a day after meals. It may also be eaten as a salad. Wash the leaves well. Prepare one and a half cups of leaves (not closely packed). Divide into three parts and take as salad three times a day.


  • Bawang (Allium sativum)
  • Ajos (Spanish, Bis. )
  • Garlic (English)


For lowering of cholesterol levels in the blood; for hypertension and toothache Preparation: maybe fried, roasted, soaked in vinegar for 30 minutes, or blanched in boiled water for 5 minutes. Take two pieces three times a day after meals.

Caution: Take on a full stomach to prevent stomach and intestinal ulcers.

For toothache – pound a small piece and apply it to the affected part.


  • Ampalaya (Mamordica charantia)
  • Amargoso (Spanish, Ilonggo)
  • Margoso, Ampalaya (Tag. )
  • Apalia (Pamp. )
  • Agape (Ibn. )
  • Apapet (Itn. )
  • Palia (Bis. , Ban. , If. , Ilk. )
  • Pubia (Sub. )
  • Suligum (Sul. )
  • Balsam Apple, Balsam Pear, Bitter Gourd (English) Uses:
  • For those with Diabetes Mellitus (Mild non-insulin-dependent)

Preparation: Gather and wash young leaves very well. Chop. Boil 6 tablespoons of chopped leaves in two glassesful of water for 15 minutes under slow fire. Do not cover the pot. Cool and strain. Take one-third cup 3 times a day after meals.

Note: Young leaves may be blanched or steamed and eaten 1/2 glassful 2 times a day.

Reminders on the use of herbal medicine:

  1. Avoid the use of insecticides as these may leave poison on plants. This may be hazardous to consume and may cause poisoning that may lead to death.
  2. In the preparation of herbal medicine, use a clay pot and remove the cover while boiling at low heat.
  3. Use only the part of the plant being advocated. The use of the parts not indicated may affect the potency of the herbal medicine, making it less effective or not effective at all when consumed.
  4. Follow an accurate dose of suggested preparation. The proper amount and timing of dosage are critical in achieving the expected results. Not following those can be detrimental to one’s health and recovery.
  5. Use only one kind of herbal plant for each type of symptoms or sickness.
  6. Stop giving the herbal medication in case an untoward reaction such as allergy occurs.
  7. If signs and symptoms are not relieved after 2 or 3 doses of herbal medication, consult a doctor.
Traditional and Alternative Health Care Practice essay

Related Questions

on Traditional and Alternative Health Care Practice

What is the difference between alternative medicine and traditional healthcare?

Alternative medicine and traditional healthcare are two terms tossed around the modern health industry rather often. There are negative opinions about both but each has their place in today’s health environment. Traditional healthcare is referred to as Western medicine because it is traditionally used by the United States and Western Europe.

What are alternative therapies?

In general, the term “alternative therapy” refers to any health treatment not standard in Western medical practice. When used alongside standard medical practices, alternative approaches are referred to as “complementary” medicine. Beyond that, complementary and alternative therapies are difficult to define, largely because the field is so diverse.

What are the 4 types of alternative medicine?

Traditional alternative medicine may include: Acupuncture. Ayurveda. Homeopathy. Naturopathy. Chinese or Oriental medicine. Body. Touch has been used in medicine since the early days of medical care. Healing by touch is based on the idea that illness or injury in one area of the body can affect all parts of the body.

Why is traditional healthcare referred to as Western medicine?

Traditional healthcare is referred to as Western medicine because it is traditionally used by the United States and Western Europe. It is defined as the medical treatment based on the use of drugs and surgery to treat symptoms (signs of illness).

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