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by Dr. Godofredo U. Stuart Jr.                                                                                                            2003

A study of alternative medicine in the Philippines is, inevitably, a study of the origins of its people and the amalgam of cultures and influences: Centuries of Spanish colonial rule and the indelible consequences of its religion, hundreds of years of trade with China and assimilation of its healing arts, tribal and provincial diversities with its profusion of folklore and mythologies, all redounding into the Filipino's easy disposition for superstitions and the allure of the esoteric, mystical and fringe. . . . .

The early 90's seemed hopeful for the merging of western and alternative medicine in the Philippines. There was a burgeoning global movement towards alternative therapies, a new-age allure for "natural" remedies; and in the Philippines, the beginnings of herbal medicinal research & development. In 1992, during the term of Juan Flavier as Secretary of Health, a brochure of 10 medicinal plants (akapulko, ampalaya, bawang, bayabas, lagundi, niyog-niyogan, pansit-pansitan, sambong, tsaang-gubat, yerba buena) for common health problems was published and commercial production was =pursued. In 1997, the TAMA (Traditional and Alternative Medicine Act) was passed, providing a legitimizing boost to the alternative medicine movement in the Philippines. . . .(More)

LISTS OF HERBAL MEDICINAL PLANTS  TheTagalog list of Philippine mediicinal plant entrees now number over 900. There is an English list for plants with English designations. Recently added is a list of Philippine medicinal plants with known Chinese names. Frequent updating is done as additional information on scientific studies is acquired and new digital photos become available as the serendipity of the seasons provide opportunities to rediscover the plants in their blooming, budding, podding and flowering stages . . . (More)

A study of Philippine medicinal plants is a journey into a world of confusing nomenclatures. Well, perhaps not so confusing to the serious student of botany, who may actually feel comfortable traversing the landscape of Latin names (or Greek or other tongue-twisting source). But for the occasional plant dabbler, for the weekend gardener, or for the occasional query and foray into the world of Philippine herbal plants, it is quite an unfriendly and intimidating gumbo of Latin and a dizzying variation of local names. . .(more)

If Latin or Greek is intimidating, the lists for Philippine common names can be downright migrainous. Many common names are shared by the plants from a different Family or Genus. A plant can have a variety of common names from the same region. I≠≠t is not uncommon for a plant to run a list of 10 to 15 names; some in extremely confusing numbers that can run up to more than 30 common names; ex: alagasi, 36; anagiong, 37. The search engine can be an invaluable tool to help you foray through this unfriendly haystack of names. With the scientific names and English names on hand, it can be extremely helpful. . . (More)

The search for medicinal plants to photograph and accompany botanical texts and alternative info has led to an increasing accumulation of unused digital photos of plants that failed to fit botanical info. A plant or two will be featured regularly. If any of them should tweak your botanical chords, please email the info: scientific or common names or folkloric use. (

In the hierarchy of practitioners of Philippine folkloric healing arts, the albularyos and the hilots may be referred to as its "general practitioners." Their armamentarium of treatment modalities are age-old folkloric with adopted ingredients of western medicine. Although their patient-base is rural, they still maintain a presence in urban and suburban communities, albeit in small scattered niches serving impoverished areas or burgis alternative needs. . . . (More)

Healers and Healing in the Cordillera

In a country with its cultures awash with religiosity - patron saints, Sto. Niños, Marian devotion, sightings, intercessions and miracles - and a fascination and disposition for the supernatural and mystical, it is not surprising to see the influences of religion and indigenous and tribal spiritualities in its healing modalities. And in faith healing, these are most obvious. . . . . (More)

Directory of Philippine Faith Healers

When a paella of cultures, magic, religion, and the medical needs of a people merge, alternative therapies will likely offer a motley bag of of options, from near-mainstream to new-age to way-out fringe. . . . (Kulam, pyramid power, triangles, tiuyuy)
Therapeutic approaches to certain conditions demonstrate a very varied bag of Philippine alternative treatment modalities: herbal infused, prayer-based, from way-out fringe to near-mainstream, colored by rural mythologies and rituals. Some are in sole purview of the village healers. Others are self-administered remedies: folkloric, herbal, sometimes pharmacy-based. . . . (Rabies, bales, suob, beke, hika, pasma) . . . (More)
A backdrop of myths, coupled with a rural religiosity, has created a rich armamentarium of indigenous therapeutic approaches, often significantly infused with elements of prayer. . . . (Bintusa, bulong, kudlit, lunas, luop, magasawang-gamot, suob, tapal, tawak, tawas, pagtutuli)


Lists of Medicinal Plants in Tagalog and English
Lists of Medicinal Plants with known Chinese names
Bahay Kubo: The Illustrated Medicinal Plant Song
Glossary of Terms
Abbreviations for Common-Name Dialects
The Traditional & Alternative Medicine Act (TAMA) of 1997
Philippine Herbs Used in Animals
Quiapo: The Friday Market
Plant Names


© All content, imagery, and photos are copyrighted / Godofredo U. Stuart, Jr., MD • StuartXchange
(unless otherwise stated)

Last Update August 2014

© All content, imagery, and photos are copyrighted / Godofredo U. Stuart, Jr., MD • StuartXchange (unless otherwise stated)
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