Tag Archives: medicinal plants

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!

Mayana – Scientific name: Coeus blumei Benth

Tagalog: Mayana

Erect, branched, fleshy annual herb, about 1 m high. Stems, purplish and 4-angled. Leaves are blotched or colored, ovate, 5-10 cm long, with toothed margins. Flowers are purplish, numerous, in simple or branched inflorescences, 15-30 cm long.

Introduced in the Philippines. Cultivated for ornamental purposes.

Volatile oils.

Parts used and preparation
Seeds, bark, and wood.

Medicinal uses:
Bruises and sprains: Crush or pound 10-12 leaves and apply over the ankles, wrists or affected areas for 30 minutes, three times daily. Use a bandage to hold the poultice in place.
Carminative: Take decoctions of leaves.
Headache: Pound leaves and apply over temples and nape.
Mild bleeding of wounds: Wash the young leaves; crush and extract the juice. Drop a few drops of the juice directly on the wound. Apply the crushed leaves as poultice.
Sinusitis: Heat 10-12 fresh leaves over a fire; apply while still hote over the forehead for the frontal sinues or over the cheeks for the maxillary sinuses, twice daily.
Decoction, taken internally for dyspepsia; also used as eyedrops for eye inflammation.

Malunggay Benefits – Scientific name: Moringa oleifera Lam.

English: Horse raddish tree
Tagalog: Malunggay
Scientific name: Moringa oleifera Lam.

Malungay is a tree found throughout the Philippines, including Mt. Banahaw. It is a common vegetable found in the market. They are a rich source of calcium and iron. The leaves are purgative, and diuretic.

– As high as 9 m; has a soft, white wood and corky, gummy bark. Root has the taste of horseradish. Each compound leaf contains 3-9 very thin leaflets dispersed on a compound (3 times pinnate) stalk. Flowers white and fragrant, producing long, pendulous, 9-ribbed pods. 3-angled winged seeds.
– Introduced from Malaya or some other part of tropical Asia in prehistoric times. Grown throughout the Philippines in settled areas as a backyard vegetable and as a border plant. Drought resistant and grows in practically all kinds of well-drained soils. Conserves water by shedding leaves during dry season.
– Propagation by seeds and stem cuttings.

– Galactagogue, rubefacient, antiscorbutic, diuretic, stimulant, purgative.

Grown throughout the Philippines as a vegetable or border plant.

Parts utilized
Flowers, leaves, young pods

Ben oil, 36% – palmitic, stearic, myristic, oleic, and behenic acids, phytosterin; two alkaloids the mixture of which has the same action as epinephrine.
Commercial Use
Oil, known as ben oil, extracted from flowers can be used as illuminant, ointment base, and absorbent in the enfleurage process of extracting volatile oils from flowers. The oil, applied locally, has also been helpful for arthritic pains, rheumatic and gouty joints.

Flowers, leaves and pods eaten as a vegetable.
Source of calcium, iron, phosphorus and vitamins.

Medicinal Use
Young leaves increases the flow of milk. Pods for intestinal parasitism.
Constipation: Leaves and fruit
Decoction of boiled roots used to wash sores and ulcers.
Decoction of the bark used for excitement, restlessness.
Pounded roots used as poultice for inflammatory swelling.
Juice of roots is used for otalgia.
Decoction of roots is use as gargle for hoarseness and sore throat.
Boiled leaves used to help increase lactation.
Seeds for hypertension, gout, asthma, hiccups, and as a diuretic.
Rheumatic complaints: Decoction of seeds; or, powdered roasted seeds applied to affected area.
Juice of the root with milk used for asthma, hiccups, gout, lumbago.
Poultice of leaves applied for glandular swelling.
Pounded fresh leaves mixed with coconut oil applied to wounds and cuts.
The flowers boiled with soy milk thought to have aphrodisiac quality.

Ipil-ipil – Scientific name: Leucaena glauca L.

English: Lead Tree
Tagalog: Ipil-ipil

Small plant up to 8 m high; leaves alternate, twice compound, 15-25 cm, base of petiole enlarged; leaflets 9 to 18 pairs, 7 to 12 mm long, linear-oblong, unequilateral; flowering stalks axillary, 3.5 to 5 cm long; flowers in dense globule heads 2 to 3 cm in diameter, white; fruit a pod, strap-shaped, flattened, 12 to 18 cm long, 1 to 2 cm wide, papery, green turning brown and splits open along two edges when mature, several fruits develop from each flower head; seeds obovate, 5 to 8 mm long, 3 to 5 mm wide, shiny, brown.

Fat, 8.68%; crude fiber, 22.59%; nitrogen-free material other than fiber, 9.78%; nitrogen, 6.42%; sucrose; water, 14.8%; ash, 4.2%.

Medicinal Uses:

Intestinal parasitism: ascaris and trichinosis.
Adults: 1 teaspoon of powdered dried seeds, alone or mixed with condensed milk and followed by half a glass of water, taken as a single dose 2 hours after a meal; repeated after one week as needed.
Children: 7-8 years old: 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon; 9-12 years old: 1/2 to 2/3 teaspoon.
Adverse effects: Abdominal pain, diarrhea.

Recent Studies and Uses
R&D on seed gum for a pharmaceutical substitute for the imported guar gum used as a binder in tablet formulation. In 1996, ipil-ipil was found to be an excellent liquid excipient as a suspending and thickening agent.

Gugo – Scientific name: Entada phaseikaudes K Meer

Tagalog: Gugo

This plant is very large tree found throughout the Philippines. It grows wild on Mt. Banahaw. Gugo is used extensively in the Philippines for washing hair and for hair tonics. When the bark is soaked in water and rubbed, it produces a lather which cleanses the scalp very effectively. The active principle of the bark is saponin.

  • A very large, woody climber. Stems thick as a man’s arm, angled, and much twisted and the bark is dark brown and rough.
  • Leaves: tripinnate, the common petioles usually ending in a long tendril. Pinnae stalked, usually 4 in number.
  • Leaflets oblong or obovate, 2.5 to 5 cm long, rigidly leathery and smooth.
  • Flowers: 2 to 3 mm long, yellowish white, either crowded in long slender spikes from the axils of the upper leaves or arranged in terminal panicles.
  • Fruits: pods, few, pendant, 30 to 100 cm long and 7 to 10 cm wide, somewhat curved, slightly constricted between the seeds. Seeds are hard, and circular with their sides flattened.

Medicinal Uses:

  • For rheumatic lumbar and leg pains, sprains, contusions: use dried vine materials, 15 to 30 gms in decoction.
  • For jaundice, edema due to malnutrition: use powdered seeds, 3 to 9 gms taken orally with water.
  • Abdominal pains and colic: Pound the kernels of the seeds, mix with oil and apply as poultice onto affected area.
  • Counterirritant: Make a paste of the seeds and apply to glandular swellings in the axilla, loins and joints, and swollen hands and feet.
  • Hair wash: Soak the prepared bark in water until soft; express the juice by rubbing the spread fibers against each other until lather is produced; use as hair shampoo.