Category Archives: List of Medicinal Plants in the Philippines

Papaya – Scientific name: Carica Papaya

English: Pawpaw, Papaya
Tagalog: Papaya

Papaya is a fruit tree found throughout the Philippines, mostly cultivated. The native species grows mostly wild on Mt. Banahaw. Papaya is one of our four “power herbs” having a long history and proof of being a very effective medicinal plant. The leaves, fruits, stem and roots all contain the proteolytic enzyme papain. Exhaustive studies have been done on papain, and it is reported to be a true, soluble, digestive ferment or a mixture of ferments of vegetable origin, its proteolytic action marked in acid, alkaline, and neutral solutions and also in the presence of many chemicals, antiseptics, and therapeutic agents. It has a peculiar softening and disintegrating actions in proteids, and its general proteolytic action is that of a genuine digestive ferment, similar to that of the ferments of animal origin.

It acts in the way rennet does upon milk, and has a pronounced digestive power at a wide range of temperatures. Papain is used effectively as an anthelmintic. The leaves are often employed as a remedy for asthma, and said to also be a heart tonic. The flowers have pectoral properties. The fruit is used in cosmetics for a healthy skin complexion. The green fruit is laxative and diuretic. Studies at the University of Nigeria have revealed that extracts of ripe and unripe papaya fruits and of the seeds are active against gram-positive bacteria. Strong doses are effective against gram-negative bacteria. The substance has protein-like properties.

Yacon – Scientific name: Polymnia sanchifolia

English: Yacon
Tagalog: Yakon

There is now a new root crop that goes by the unusual name yacon. Recognized as a health food, it is also known as the apple of the earth because although it is grown underground like any other root crop, its fruit resembles an apple or a pear. Also, unlike regular root crops whose carbohydrate content eventually turns to starch, then sugar, when ingested, the yacon stores carbohydrates in the form of inulin and not starch. High in inulin, it serves as a sucrose-free food for diabetics.

The yacon is also low in calories, thus making it a good, nutritious diet food. While a sweet potato contains 125 calories, a potato 77 calories and a taro 60 calories per 100grams, the yacon has only 54 calories. It contains carbohydrates (oligo-fuctans),which pass through the digestive tract unmetabolized, so that it is perfect for those who suffer from obesity. Add to this the fact that the yacon purifies the blood and whose high-fiber content assists in digestion.


The yacon is believed to be a lost crop of the Incas. A little known plant of the Andes, it grows wild in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. It also grows at medium altitudes in South America. In the warm, temperate Andian Valleys, it can be found at altitudes up to 3,200 meters. It can be cultivated worldwide, and in the Philippines, it is grown 100% organically.

The absence of harmful chemicals and insecticides makes it even healthier. A herbaceous plant with dark green celery like leaves, it has hairy aerial stems that reach up to 2 meters in height as well as small, daisy-like yellow or orange flowers that a repacked close together at the top of the plants. Yacon tubers are irregularly spindle to round and can vary considerably in shape, size and sweetness.


The yacon, which is a member of the sunflower family, is grown primarily for its edible roots. While it looks like sweet potatoes or yam on the outside with its brownish, sandy skin, inside, the yacon looks more like a juicy fruit such as the apple and the pear. Just peel off the skin, wash it, slice it up into pieces, and eat it raw. It feels just like a pear or an apple to the bite, with a crunch accompanying small bursts of juice.

The yacon can also be boiled or sauteed in oil. Having all the characteristics of a health food that aids in the maintenance of good health, the yacon contains potassium, magnesium, calcium, Vitamins A, B1, B2 and C, phosphorus, niacin, iron, carotene, protein, lipids, cellulose, glucide and fiber.


More than just being a valuable health food, the yacon has also been discovered to have medicinal values. The tuber can be used as medicine. Simply preserve it for 10 days so that it reaches its full level of sweetness, and then peel it, slice into thin cuts and eat it raw. Its leaves also have medicinal properties. Do the leaves naturally in the shade, then cut into suitable sizes and boil in water to make a cleansing tea. The recommended daily intake of the yacon tea is 2 cups daily. Because the inulin content of the yacon is 60 to 70%, it helps control the blood glucose and keep it at a normal level. So those who are eating the tuber will notice initial results within 7 to 10 days, while those who drink its tea can expect initial health benefits in as short as 4 to 5 days. Above all else, the yacon is delicious!

Tuba Bakod – Scientific name: L., Euphorbiaceae ; Jatropha curcas

English: Barbados nut, bubble bush, physic nut, purging nut;
Tagalog: Tuba Bakod

Physic nut is a drought resistant shrub that grows up to 20′ tall under favorable condition with spreading branches. There are male – and female plant of Jatropha curcas. The black thin shelled seeds are considered toxic; they contain the toxalbumin curcin and this make them fatally toxic.

Roasting the seeds seems to kill the toxin. However, they also contain a high percentage of clean oil used for candles, soap and bio-diesel production. The fruit contains 2 or 3 large black, oily seeds.

Physic nut has insecticidal – and fungicidal properties. It has yellow-green flowers and large (pale) green leaves.

It is a drought resistant shrub with a smooth gray bark.
Barbados nut has latex that contains an alkaloid (jatrophine) which shows anticancerous properties.
Caution is advised when using physic nut!
When irrigated it procedure seeds during the whole year.
The seeds contain 37% of this non edible oil.

In traditional medicine, the leaves of this plant are used against stomachache, diagnosed in children: boiled leaves for conditions of the gums and throat; tea of the leaves for stoppage of urine, constipation, backache and inflammation of ovaries.

Tuba – Scientific name: Croton tiglium Linn.

English: Croton Oil Plant
Tagalog: Tuba

An erect or more or less spreading shrub or very small tree.

  • Leaves: alternate, ovate 7 to 12 cm in length, usually somewhat rounded at the base, pointed at the tip and toothed at the margins.
  • Flowers: very small and borne on terminal inflorescence, with the female flowers situated toward the base of each inflorescence.
  • Fruits: capsules, ellipsoid, or obscurely 3-angled, 1.5 to 2 cm long and contains a single seed. Seed: ovoid or oblong, 12 to 15 mm in length and 3-angled, the testa dark-brown or blackish, thin and brittle and of faint odor; the albumen and the embryo are yellowish. Seeds are at first mild in taste and subsequent acrid and pungent.

Usually planted, in and about towns, throughout the Philippines; naturalized in some places.

Parts utilized

  • Roots and fresh leaves.
  • Roots collected year round
  • Rinse, cut into sections, and sun-dry.

Characteristics and Pharmacological Effects:
Pungent taste, warming, antipyretic, aids in gastrointestinal disorders, and antiinflammatory.
Toxic in excessive internal use.

Medicinal uses

  • For rheumatic pains of the legs and waist: use 3 to 6 gms of dried material in the form of decoction.
  • Pounded fresh leaves may be applied as poultice for snakebites or may be used as insecticide.

Tanglad (Lemon Grass) – Scientific name: Andropogon citratus DC Stapf

English: Lemon grass
Tagalog: Tanglad

Tanglad is a grass and is cultivated throughout the Philippines. It is a popular ingredient in herbal teas and herbal soaps. It is used to aid digestion, for stomach problems and to reduce fevers.

Lemon Grass, common name for several species of grasses originating in Africa and Asia, used for culinary, medicinal, and cosmetic purposes. Although traditionally used in India and South East Asia, Lemon Grass is now widely cultivated in tropical America, Africa, Australia, and the Caribbean. The leaves and base of this tender perennial are used as a food flavouring, particularly in fish and poultry dishes, and its essential oils are used medicinally. Its distinctive flavour balances hot chillies and contributes to the elaborate, multi-layered flavours of many dishes in South East Asian cuisine.

As the long, thin, grey-green leaves are tough and fibrous, the outside leaves and the tips are usually chopped very finely or discarded from the dish before it is served. The base is often ground. Citral, an essential oil also found in lemon peel, is the constituent responsible for its taste and aroma. Citronella grass (Cymbopogon nardus), which is native to South East Asia, yields citronella oil, which is used in perfume, cosmetics, and insect repellents. Its repellent properties are also utilized in preparations used in dog and cat control. Fractional distillation of the oil may be used to produce menthol, which has medicinal uses.

Lemon grass , also known as Sweet Rush and sometimes called Fever Grass in the Caribbean, can be used as a remedy for ague, fevers, and colds, and is utilized in the manufacture of synthetic violet perfume. Other varieties of aromatic oil-bearing grasses include Rosha grass (Cymbopogon martini), which is grown in India; East Indian lemon grass (Cymbopogon flexuosus), a native of South India; and camel grass (Cymbopogon schoenanthus), which originates in the Middle East.

Scientific classification: Lemon grass belongs to the genus Cymbopogon of the family Poaceae. It is classified as Cymbopogon citratus.

Talumpunay – Scientific name: Datura metel Linn.

English: Thorn apple
Tagalog: Talumpunay

Thorn Apple, also called jimsonweed in the United States, common name for a plant native to North America and now naturalized around the world.

The plant is a large annualherb with conspicuous white-to-purple flaring, tubular flowers up to 10 cm (4 in) long and large, round, spiny fruits. The alkaloids, produced in the leaves, seeds, and other parts of the plant, are poisonous; eating them can result in convulsions, coma, and even death.

Scientific classification: Thorn apple belongs to the family Solanaceae. It is classified as Datura stramonium.

Talong (Eggplant) – Scientific name: Solanum melongena L.

English: Eggplant
Tagalog: talong

Talong or eggplant is cultivated throughout the Philippines for the edible fruit; the elongated variety, the most cultivated. Fruit is an excellent vegetable and popular in the rural day-to-day cuisine. It is eaten before it ripens, preferred before the seed hardens. It is a good source of vitamins A, B, and C and also of calcium, phosphorus, and iron; carbohydrates and fiber

Medicinal use:

  • Leaves are used for piles.
  • The boiled root of the wild plant, mixed with sour milk and grain porridge, has been used for the treatment of syphilis.
  • Long fruit is phlegmatic and generative of phthisis, coughs, and anorexia.
  • Decoction of roots, dried stalk, and leaves is used for washing sores, exudative surfaces and used as astringent for hemorrhage from the bladder and other hemorrhagic fluxes.
  • The juice of leaves used for throat and stomach troubles.
  • Decoction of roots taken internally for asthma and as a general stimulant.
  • Juice of the fruit, sometimes with pounded leaves, rubbed on suspected syphilitic eruptions of the hands.
  • Fruit considered cooling, and bruised with vinegar
  • Chinese and Annamites used the roots for skin diseases.
  • In Taiwan folk medicine, roots are used for rheumatism, inflammation and foot pain.
  • The peduncle, incinerated, used in intestinal hemorrhages, piles, and toothache.
  • Seeds used as stimulant but may cause dyspepsia and constipation
  • In French Guinea, decoction or infusion of leaves is used for stomach troubles and sore throat.
  • In India, juice of various plant parts and pulp of fruits of S. melongena and its wild allies used for various ailments: diabetes, otitis, toothaches, cholera, bronchitis, asthma, dysuria, among many others.
  • The fruit is considered cooling, and bruised with vinegar, is used as a poultice for abscesses and cracked nipples.

Takip-kohol – Scientific name: Centella asiatica L.

English: Indian hydocotyle
Tagalog: Takip-kohol

  • A prostrate, creeping sparingly hairy or nearly smooth herb. The stems rooting at the nodes.
  • Leaves: rounded to reniform, 2 to 5 cm wide, horizontal, more or less cupped, rounded at the tip, and kidney-shaped or heart-shaped at the base, palmately veined, scalloped margins, the rounded lobes often overlapping. Petioles erect, 3 to 20 cm and long.
  • Flowers: petals dark-purple, ovate, and about 1 long. Peduncles occur in pairs or threes, less than 1 cm long and usually bear 3 sessile flowers. Flowering October to May.
  • Fruits: minute, ovoid, white or green, and reticulate, each with 9 subsimilar longitudinal ridges
  • 5 carpels, cylindric compressed, about 2.5 mm long, white or green, reticulate. Ovary inferior. Stamens 5, epigynous.

Found in gardens; open, damp grasslands on rice paddy banks and streams throughout the Philippines.

Parts utilized

  • Entire plant.
  • Gather drug material anytime of the year.

Bitter principle, vellarin; pectic acid.
Chemical analysis of the plant shows the presence of vallarine, high vitamin B content in the leaves and roots, and a miscellany of other constituents such as carbohydrates, resins, proteins, ash, alkali, alkaline salts, phosphates, and tannins.

Medicinal uses

  • Infectious hepatitis, measles, respiratory tract infections – colds, tonsillitis, laryngopharyngitis, bronchitis.
  • Fresh material: 60 to 260 gms, dried material: 30 to 60 gms: Take in form of decoction.
  • Counterirritant: Pound fresh leaves, mix with vaseline or oil and apply over affected area as poultice.

Tabako (Tobacco) – Scientific name: Nicotiana tabacum L.

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English: Tobacco
Tagalog: Tabako

Tobacco has a long history of use by medical herbalists as a relaxant, though since it is a highly additive drug it is seldom employed internally or externally at present.

The leaves are antispasmodic, discutient, diuretic, emetic, expectorant, irritant, narcotic, sedative and sialagogue. They are used externally in the treatment of rheumatic swelling, skin diseases and scorpion stings. The plant should be used with great caution, when taken internally it is an addictive narcotic. The active ingredients can also be absorbed through the skin.

Wet tobacco leaves can be applied to stings in order to relieve the pain. They are also a certain cure for painful piles. A homeopathic remedy is made from the dried leaves. It is used in the treatment of nausea and travel sickness.

Other Uses
Insecticide; Oil; Repellent.

All parts of the plant contain nicotine, this has been extracted and used as an insecticide. The dried leaves can also be used, they remain effective for 6 months after drying. The juice of the leaves can be rubbed on the body as an insect repellent.

The leaves have been dried and chewed as an intoxicant. The dried leaves are also used as snuff or smoked. This is the main species that is used to make cigarettes and cigars. A drying oil is obtained from the seed.

Singkamas – Scientific name: Pachyrrhizus erosus Linn.

English: Yam bean, Jicama
Tagalog: Singkamas

a Central American climbing plant of the pea family, which has been cultivated for its edible tubers (jicama) since pre-Columbian times. Also known as Jimaca, Mexican turnip, Mexican yam or Mexican potato and usually eaten raw but can also be cooked with a variety of dishes.

Spread of Jicama to Asia
Spaniards spread cultivation of singkamas from Mexico to Philippines, from there it went to China and other parts of Southeast Asia, where popular uses of raw yam bean include fresh “lumpia” in the Philippines and salads in Singapore and Malaysia such as yusheng and rojak.

Medicinal use:

  • Decoction of the jicama roots are used as a diuretic.
  • Warmed poultice of the stem pulp can be used and applied to painful areas in the leg.
  • Seeds are laxative; and the oil of seeds is purgative in doses of 40 gms.
  • Tincture from seeds are used for treatment of herpes.
  • Roots are used for fever and hemorrhages.