There has been a change of consciousness, a paradigm shift, an evolving awareness of the body, not just as a machine but as a vessel of something precious—the spirit.
Pharmaceuticals have become big businesses, and their side effects have not been something to ignore. Human kidneys can hardly absorb all those “necessary” pills and capsules recommended by doctors.
I am one of the slower learners, having been born generations ago when all that natural healing and eating was the norm. In between generations, there was a shift to science, and these cures became merely “servant talk.” My favorite educator and quack doctor today is my neighbor Belay Gruenberg, who detests anything chemical, even Coke. Tonight she drags me to Veggie Café, a quiet, Chinese-owned vegetarian place on A. Roces, in the cul-de-sac beside Moomba.
If I am not having lunches at Tita Soliongco’s Vegetarian Kitchen on 62-B Mother Ignacia Avenue, at the back of St. Mary’s, it is in Mary Ann Duran’s good old faithful Greens, overlooking her pleasant garden. Or at the even older Blissful Belly of Dr. Omar Arabia, one of the oldest homeopathic doctors in town. (Let this not fool you, I am a weather-weather vegetarian; when it’s not raining I eat pork).
The common teas
Belay began by ordering one lemongrass (tanglad) and one pandan tea. Both are good. She tells me that sambong, carried by other vegetarian restos, is good, too, but it is a diuretic (also a kidney remedy) and will make you run to you know where. Camomile is another nice afternoon tea, conducive to dozing. Camomile is also effective for kabag, flatulence. Another kabag reliever since Magellan’s time is manzanilla, now available in drugstores. Massaged on the tummy, even of adults, it eases the passage of air.
For rainy season colds and cough, these are the accepted herbal cures: For sore throat-hot salabat or ginger tea; hot calamansi; or a gargle of salt and water. For cold and cough-lagundi leaves in an infusion is an excellent, vile tasting expectorant. Oregano tea is as well a cold remedy.
For indigestion and diarrhea: tsaang gubat (available in sachet form from drugstores) that you make into tea. Eat latundan banana or boiled camote to stop diarrhea. An infusion of guava and avocado leaves is also good for the above.
Tawa-tawa seeds and leaves, commonly found everywhere (??!), can be made into an effective tea for malaria and dengue. To save you the trouble of looking for it “sa tabi-tabi,” tawa-tawa is now available in Department of Health-approved capsules in health stores.
Pungent malvarosa planted near the door is good for mosquito control. Leaves of the nim tree, dried and burned, drive away mosquitoes. So does lanzones peel.
The colorful mayana leaves, grown decoratively in gardens, may be pounded and applied on head bumps (bukol).
For sprains, apply hot chili peppers (labuyo), garlic and ginger mashed into a potion in warm coconut oil.
An infusion of bitter melon or ampalaya and banaba, its dried leaves and fruit, is a cleansing drink for lowering blood sugar (of diabetics). May also pound ampalaya leaves and take the extracted juice by the spoonful for alleviating asthma. For cough, it’s a good expectorant. (Eating boiled ampalaya leaves also remedies anemia.)
The liquid of boiled guava leaves is an age-old antiseptic for cleaning wounds. Placed in a steamer under a loosely woven chair seat, the fumes of boiling guava leaves aids in the restoration to normal of newly birthed vaginas.
The iron-rich malunggay vegetable stimulates the production of milk by nursing mothers.
Pansit-pansitan, another lowly weed (found sa tabi-tabi), eaten raw, with salad, alleviates rheumatism or rayuma.
Pounded ginger, mixed with warm coconut oil, is for massaging painful muscles (called pilay by the folk).
To remedy urinary tract infection and kidney problems, take sambong and buko juice or, if you wish to make life easier, bottled cranberry juice.
Hypertension can be controlled with a drink of boiling water poured over young kasuy leaves. Can also just eat those leaves.
Buhok ng mais, boiled and made into tea, removes kidney stones.
Aloe vera, the plant, split open and its “gelatin” applied to the scalp, will thicken hair.
A natural facial scrub can be made out of roasted mongo seeds, pulverized.
For acne, mash fresh ripe tomatoes and use as facial rinse.
To whiten dark armpits, apply calamansi regularly.
BO is remedied with tawas, which is a crystalline rock. It should be first smoothened out with sandpaper. When smooth, every time it is sanded again, a bit of the powder comes off. This should be dampened and applied to the armpits.
By BO time, I was tired to death and could no longer absorb all that health talk. I decided to go home and pop an aspirin.