Friday, July 31, 2009

Children’s Mascot

Abe V Rotor

Take them to Grimm’s fairyland,
Madurodam in Holland,
To fabled Disneyland
Or to holy Agape land.

Take them not to burger land
Toy and vendo land
Mall and game land
Or any wasteland.

Living with Nature, Volume 3. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Reference: Living with Nature in Our Times AVR, UST Publishing House

Monday, July 20, 2009

Food Part 1: Be Sure the Food You Eat is Safe

Pinapaitan and kilawin (goat's meat cooked with grass cud
extract or papait, and medium rare, respectively) are a
specialty among Ilocanos.

Abe V Rotor

Auntie Basang was fond of seafoods. She would meticulously clean any marine fish, crab, shell or seaweed, and warn any onlooker, “Watch out for kuret.”

The innocent-looking parasitic crab lives between the gill blades of big fishes and crabs, and who would think of it as a deadly creature? Herbolarios at that time were quick to attribute sudden deaths among seafood eaters to kuret, and it must be for this reason that the term gained notoriety.

"Di ka pay la coma ma-kuret!" (May the kuret get you!) is a cruel joke and it is actually a curse. "Sin contrition," the town 's religious folk would add to emphasize the sure and quick nature of kuret poisoning.

There was an actual case of crab poisoning in Zamboanga del Norte. The culprit is one of the many poisonous crabs found on Philippine rocky shores. All the five members of a family died soon after eating "kumong kumong" (Zozymus aennus L). The description fits the kind of crab that claimed the lives of a Japanese couple a few years earlier.

Crab poisoning is characterized by numbness of the lips, tip of the tongue and paralysis of the limbs, which the victim experiences fifteen minutes to a few hours after ingesting the poison. Intense vomiting ensues. Reddish swellings on the abdomen appear. Breathing becomes difficult, and soon the victim becomes unconscious. Respiratory failure follows. Death takes place in four to six hours, earlier among children. Other than local remedies like induced vomiting, there is no known effective antidote to crab poisoning. "Even dogs and pigs which eat the scraps are not spared," the old folks claim.

There is another kind of poisoning that shows the same deadly punch: mushroom poisoning, and it too, has no antidote. In Gatid, Sta. Cruz (Laguna), this writer encountered patches of wild mushrooms suspected to be Amanita, a deadly kind. Some books say if you find the stipe (stem) wearing a ring, and the gills are black, it is believed to be poisonous. The best advice is not to take chances. Eat only the known edible species.

Ethnic Food

There are poisonous plants and animals that occur naturally. But there are ethnic societies who have learned to remove the poisons they contain, thereby eating the foods without apparent harm. One example is nami (Dioscorea hispida), a relative of ubi and tugui'. Hispidine is the poisonous material that can be extracted by means of repeated washing. Some natives use dogs to test the safety of the produce.

The field of ethnobotany and ethnozoology covers interesting studies on how the natives deal with poisonous plants and animals as food. These may be from snakes and puffer fish to wild gabi and cassava. In Vigan (Ilocos Sur), for example, there is a technique in cooking cassava (Manihot utilissima) to minimize its cyanide content. The tuber is cleaned and cut into pieces, then boiled with the pot cover removed to allow the deadly cyanogas to escape with the steam.

By the way, storing cassava tuber should be avoided because the cyanide that is concentrated in the bark spreads onto the tuber. This is noticeable by the yellowish stain on the tuber. However, this is not readily noticeable in the case of the yellow or glutinous varieties of cassava.

The blood of the tangingi fish is first drained before it is cut and cooked. There are people who are allergic to this kind of fish. A case of fish allergy involved an 11-year old boy who ate a lot of talakitok fish eggs. Four hours after eating, he could hardly breathe, his eyes were virtually shut, reddish spots swarmed all over his body. He was immediately given an antihistamine injection. It took him one week to recover.

Symptoms of food poisoning from natural toxins appear to have similar patterns, with mortality rates dependent on the kind and amount of poison involved. When Red Tide first appeared in the early 1980s, in Maqueda Bay in Western Samar, there was very little knowledge about Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP). This poison accumulates in tahong (green mussel) and talaba (oyster) without causing them harm. There were reported deaths due to eating tahong during the red tide season. The poison affects the nerves, muscles, and probably the brain.

Our major bays have had experiences with red tide crippling the shellfish industry for sometime. The Department of Health, in cooperation with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, ban harvesting and selling of marine shellfish when the Red Tide season is severe. This usually happens late in the summer when the early rains wash down nitrates and phosphates coming from the uplands on their way to the sea. High sunlight intensity and long days favor the bloom of these microorganisms. During this period, the shellfish ingest the microscopic dinoflagellates (Pyrodinium bahamense compressa) in seemingly unending appetite. In biology this is called luxury feeding, a compensation mechanism among sessile organisms to store as much energy in their bodies while there is food available.

Symptoms of Red Tide Poisoning

1. Numbness is felt on the lips and tongue.
2. Speech is affected.
3. Numbness extends to the hands.
4. There is difficulty in breathing.
5. If the poisoning is severe the victim suffers of general paralysis
6. Cardiac arrest ensues.

An antidote to red tide poisoning has been developed by the Department of Health. But in remote areas, like Samar in the Visayas region, a folk remedy is to induce vomiting and excretion of the toxin by giving the patient a lot of coconut extract (gata).


Reference: The Living with Nature Handbook by AVR, UST Publishing House, Manila

Food Part 2: Harmful Residues in Food

Abe V Rotor

The other kind of food poisons is man-made or man-induced. The most prevalent is farm chemicals. Modern pesticides are continuously redesigned to cope with increasing resistance of insects and pathogens. As a result, their residues on food and the environment have likewise increased tremendously. This is even worst in the case of systemic pesticides which penetrate deep into the innermost part of the plant. This happens when the poisons are absorbed and carried throughout the plant's body via its sap. Any insect that feeds on the sap is killed.

Among the first chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides invented was DDT. It was introduced in the 1940s as final answer to the malaria problem. By controlling mosquitoes, spread the disease was stopped. It is true that DDT is highly effective not only against mosquitoes but other insects, as well, that its inventor received the Nobel Prize. It was however, discovered years later that it has a residue that is both persistent and cumulative, and transferred up through the food chain. Thus, from the mosquito, the DDT is passed on to the fish, to animals that feed on the fish, and ultimately to man. In spite of the fact that it has long been banned there are still traces of DDT residues found in many places, showing either its persistence, or its illegal manufacture and distribution, or both.

Let's take a few examples of banned pesticides. The deadliest is Dioxin. Worldwide, its manufacture is prohibited. Even less dangerous pesticides are banned, such as arsenic and cyanide. This is true also to the fumigant methyl bromide, and a number of rodent poisons.

The molluscicides, Brestan and Aquatin, have been replaced with safer brands. These chemicals were intended to control the golden snail (Pomacea caniculata), but found to cause skin and nail allergies. Reports of women farm workers absorbing the poison through the genital tract were investigated and found to be true. The golden kuhol, which was introduced into the country as a livelihood and a delicacy, has turned maverick, now a pest to rice farmers. Today, more than one million hectares of irrigated ricelands are reportedly being infested by kuhol annually. Ironically, the golden kuhol did not prosper as a food source.

Food Poisoning

There was the case of cheesedog poisoning in Rizal Province recently. Scores of children, teenagers and adults attending a party were rushed to the nearest clinics and hospitals. Fortunately, all of the victims fully recovered.

Cases of typhoid, hepatitis and gastrointestinal diseases have been on the rise because of unsafe water. In Tokyo and nearby cities Echesichia coli, a common gastrointestinal pathogen spread to an epidemic level. It was controlled only after banning the suspected source – hamburger.

How clean is clean? The scientist Lister discovered the prin¬ciple of aseptic cleanliness. Listerine, a mouthwash brand was named after him. Florence Nightingale, the founder of the nursing profession applied Lister's principle in hospital manage¬ment. But we often exaggerate cleanliness. We use a variety of cleaning agents such as detergents, pesticides, deodorants, air fresheners, and cosmetics. Rub-on mosquito repellant is carcinogenic, so with Chlorine, which we add to our drinking water and swimming pools. Greenpeace, a vocal environment vanguard organization has raised a "Chlorine Kills" campaign against the excessive use of the chemical. Sodium fluoride mistaken for baking powder or wheat flour is extremely harmful, yet fluoride used is in small amounts in toothpaste to help keep our teeth strong and healthy.

We are unwittingly introducing into our bodies materials which may be more harmful than the germs we are trying to control.

There was a story of a boy whose anemic condition had for so long remained a puzzle, until one morning his doctor dropped by, and while having coffee with the family, exclaimed, "Why, I know now why your son is sick!" He observed that the gold lining of the coffee cup was being worn out. The boy was slowly being poisoned by the gold paint. The fine gold rim was actually painted with lead as paint medium.

How many of our utensils at home contain harmful metals? Do not cook food with vinegar in aluminum pots. Do not use utensils plated with Antimony or Cadmium. Remember that plastic containers react with acidic food. The microwave oven is not as safe as the conventional oven. There are scientists who believe that microwave triggers radiation, which may be harmful to the body in the long run. In spite of this warning, the use of the microwave oven, because of its convenience, has increased.
Here is an outline of other food contaminants and additives, which are reported to be the cause of many ailments and death cases.

1. Seeds of ipil-ipil ground with coffee cause falling hair. It is also a growth retardant due to its mimosin content.

2. Seeds of papaya when dried can pass for black pepper. Papaya fruit contains healthful papain. No one knows the effects the seed has on the body.

3. Vetsin or mono-sodium glutamate retards mental and skeletal growth, especially in children. Vetsin may cause drowsiness after eating. To some people the effect is palpitation and irritability. Burglars silence dogs with pandesal treated with vetsin. An overdose may lead to death.

4. Formalin is used to extend the shelf life of fish. The malpractice is to inject it in large fishes, or mixed it with the ice water for small ones. Formalin is a strong poison. It is used in embalming. Formalin was detected in buko juice, which led to the decline of the once flourishing local industry.

5. Cyanide in vegetables was first detected in Benguet when the farmers discovered that the water coming from mine tailings had insecticide properties. It was later traced to cyanide compounds used in the mining industry. Cyanide is a very strong poison. It is used in gas chamber in the foreign countries to execute criminals.

6. Nitrate or salitre is the chief preservative and food color used in tocino, longaniza and corned beef. One can easily detect it in the urine by analysis and smell. Salitre is known to be a carcinogen.

7. Food dyes make food colorful, but dangerous. This writer personally experienced eating sampaloc (tamarind) candy treated with jubos, a shoe dye. It caused a false alarm when he noticed the color of his urine blood red.

8. Aspartame has taken the place of saccharine, the original diet sugar. There has been a decline in the intake of diet soft drinks in the US due to unexplained side effects, ranging from high blood pressure to allergic reactions. Why is decaffeinated coffee no longer as popular as before? Will fatless fat ever get FDA's nod? This is a kind of fat, which we eat but will not make us fat.


Reference: The Living with Nature Handbook, AVR, UST Publishing House Manila

Food Part 3: Mad Cow Disease and Radiation

Abe V Rotor

The Mad Cow Disease or Bovine Spongioform Encephalopathy (BSE) as early as in 1998 has stirred serious worldwide attention as to the transmissibility of the disease to humans. The cause is a rare infective particle, prion, a kind of protein heretofore unknown to affect humans. Its diagnosis shows similarity with the Cruetzgen-Jakobs Disease (CJD), a wasting disease of the central nervous system very much like Alzheimer’s disease. The new disease strikes both young and old, while the latter strikes only old people. The gestation of BSE-CJD is 10 to 30 years. Scientists believe that the fifty victims in England, the country where the new disease originated, must have contacted the disease through eating BSE-infected beef way back in the 1980s.

Now this is the paradox. In early 2001, a shipment of some 15 container-vans of beef from Ireland arrived in the Philippines through the country’s biggest meat processors. The Department of Agriculture ordered the immediate “re-exportation” of the whole shipment. The sale of beef, including local beef, declined drastically. The mad cow scare quickly spread worldwide as many countries began to impose strict quarantine requirements. Ironically, a simultaneous outbreak of foot-and-mouth epidemic swept across Europe, again originating in Britain and reaching France, Germany and the Netherlands within a short time.

Can we get the Mad Cow Disease? It is possible. The channels of the diseases are two folds. First is through the infected beef, and second, through animal feeds formulated from recycled carcass and parts of the animal, a common practice abroad. We import both products, so that the transmission of the mad cow disease to the consumer can be direct through the first channel, while the imported feeds may trigger infection of our local stocks. In short, we may be introducing the mad cow disease into our own cattle through infected imported feeds.

Modern living indeed has many drawbacks. Artificial food, additives and preservatives are common in the food content we take everyday. Those tempting preparations may be dyed. The cheap kind of vinegar may be diluted glacial acetic acid, the same kind of acid used in photography and other industrial processing. Cancer-causing aflatoxin is found in peanut butter. The common practice, and it is just being practical, is that the good nut is sold as whole peanut (seed), while those of inferior grade are ground into butter. And why is the incidence cirrhosis of the liver higher in the south than in the rice-eating regions? It is because corn, which is the southern staple, is more predisposed to the aflatoxin fungus than rice is.

Radiation is an invisible risk. We do not know when, where, and what level we are getting - and when it becomes harmful to the body. In the early 1980s, the Chernobyl nuclear plant incident in Russia, located not far from Western Europe, caused worldwide concern. After the meltdown incident, a milk brand from Holland tainted with the fallout found its way to the Philippines. The government, upon finding its level of radiation to be higher than the limit set by DOH, issued a ban against its use, especially for children. But where did the whole shipment go? Pulvoron, anyone?

Overeating and Malnutrition

"Vege-cue" does away with high colesterol and fatty grilled food.

There are two other aspects which are also raised in this paper. Someone who studied the eating habits of man said, “There are as many people dying of overeating as those who die because of lack of food." It is not only because of the direct causes of food in our body, it is also because of the fact that overweight condition increases death risk.

Here are some facts: If you are overweight by 10 percent (based principally on age and height) your life span is reduced by 10 to 15 percent. If you are 30 percent overweight, you have a lifetime reduced to one-half. And people, who are over¬weight by 40 percent and above, are virtually walking towards their grave.

On the other hand, not having sufficient food leads to malnutrition, which in turn leads to poor health. Among children malnutrition hinders growth of both body and mind, and many effects are irreversible.~

Reference: The Living with Nature Handbook AVR, UST Publishing House Manila


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Part 1. "Converse with Verse"

Abe V Rotor
Romance is in the air. A pair of Cotton Stainer
(Dysdercus megalopigus) in early spring.

1. Ode to a GMO (Genetically Modified Organism)
My pet, in a sudden turnabout
went wild, its good nature gone!
This weird creature was born out
of the genius and madness of man.

2. It doesn't matter if our planet is green or blue
from outer space or from a hungry soul
living on a morsel, holding an empty bowl,
while images of bounty are virtually true.

3. Corrupting is civilization to mankind;
better was life the Noble Savage lived
in the Garden of Eden we've long envied -
sans want, sans war, sans evil of any kind.

4. Denial to anger is just the beginning,
if anger is provoked and prolonged
into depression lost from bargaining -
not enough, acceptance the saddest song.

5. Flow from the hills, follow the herons fly,
laugh with the brook and feed my soul;
fill the lake to mirror the land and sky
before you burst into waterfall.

6. Break from the cold wall and go free,
but before you reach your destiny,
bring down the sky before the rainbow
and wash the furrow on my brow.

7. All you give your cow and sheep
is an wide green, green meadow
away from your watch and shadow;
content they are - and your sleep.

8. Ask Ceres or the Mightiest of all,
if Nature keeps herself better if we depart,
with her housekeeping and her art -
Was Paradise redeemed after the Fall?

8. The night is full of awe and wonder,
but how many stars do my poor eyes miss?
Yet my mind is set to explore and wander
in search beyond silence true peace.

9. the Drummer Boy to his master's will
marched with the flag behind him;
the flag drops,yet he, drumming still
fell, knowing only the battle hymn.

10. Youth, sweet memories you cherish -
whether the path you took is bright
or dark, or faded in the mist -
matters not in the end, if all's right.

11. To change our ways, hold your peace;
in his dungeon Gandhi prayed at ease;
bowed on a loom he wove the cloth
from the naked, the flag and his oath.

12. Truth we seek, its bulk lies under;
iceberg, it's tip not the real danger;
mum we all are, inside brews anger,
deafening silence sets as asunder.

13. The valley is still, the fog thick and gray;
many a dream is born and gone astray;
once a beacon now ringed with light
where once a moth died in a noble fight.

14. The sail must catch the wind
like a bird; the boat glides free,
for nothing is more fearful
than doldrums in the sea.

15. Lemonade is sweet
even without tasting it,
sans test or any gadget;
seeds float, they rarely sink.

16. The spider protects her brood in tempest,
shepherds her tiny ones from the nest.
Ask Charles Darwin the explanation,
and Robert Bruce the exclamation.

17. Whisper of summer rain
soothes a longing pain
sending a chord fresh and cool
that hums through the soul.

18. Keener the senses are at the end,
deeper kinship lies at the bend;
everyone a friend after the Fall,
the past we bid, welcome to all.

19. Life comes from colors, colors in light,
light from the sun, light to the plant,
plant to animal, whale or the ant -
and life goes on throughout the night.

20. On the Rice Terraces where I stand,
golden are the grains in the setting sun;
on the Great Wall where I walk back in time
roars a dragon amid a mournful chime.

~ ~ ~

Assignment for photography students and enthusiasts: This is an exercise in Creative Photography. Choose an appropriate photograph for each verse and capture its essence and message. Write the caption for the photograph. Enhance the human interest effect. Apply the elements of art, mainly composition. Can your work pass for a poster?

Living with Nature by AVR, Volume 3

Part 3: Time for Verses

Abe V Rotor
Take time out, be a child again.

1. Hush, hush,
suddenly the world became still;
gone is the lark in the sky
and raven on the window sill.

2. The bamboo I cut is not really mine,
this giant grass, a reed sublime;
in the wind it rings a sweet old chime
into a song sans words and rhyme.

3. When the geese take to the air
their leader first breaks the barrier;
on the dovetail trail ride the flock
in synergy, confidence and luck.

4. The Arch honors the great;
it stands with the people's faith
through seasons and through the ages
enshrined in history's pages.

5. Two paintings of the same subject
the imagination may recollect;
however truthful that we may aim
will the paintings ever be the same.

6. "Tell me it is true," her faith implied,
"the sun is moving," she cried;
archetypes from memories relive
in those who blindly believe.

7. Full and heavy is the grain
in the field shining in gold,
nurtured by the monsoon rain
and by faith a thousand fold.

8. Flow gently like sweet Afton, flow;
but that was a long time ago;
now that you are covered with silt,
this song would no longer fit.

9. The moon is a boat floating,
yet brief it is in one place;
the boat is now sinking,
sinking into its new phase.

10. Children are children
seeking adventure away from crowd;
curiosity, danger and dream
lie beyond the cloud.

11. Flowers are full of promises,
they are the bridge of the gene,
the essence of a compromise,
opening a chapter and scene.

12. Nature's architecture
copied in a concrete world;
we of little faith are told -
all this is man's grandeur.

13. Bats, they cling in some dark dome
designed to be their home;
cast omen that sets them apart
from us who detest their art.

14. Long forgotten is Malthus ghost,
haunting Baghdad after Hanoi,
where Big Brother once again plays host,
benevolence a game of decoy.

15. Renaissance and God's word
ride on the Cross and Sword -
two tools their roles apart,
yet ruled by the latter's part.

16. The curse of the all Supreme
is to push man to the brim
when he acts with the god in him
and defies Mount Olympus hymn.

17. I asked how many friends I have;
the click beetle, it knew what I said;
pressing its breast my wish implied,
and all I wanted it complied.

18. Ode to the Cicada
Man may sing better and without end,
and perhaps his bride is more cute;
still he envies you his little friend,
for your bride is forever mute.

19. If you wish to reach heaven alone,
do not anymore bother,
for the Flood has purified your kind;
everyone is now a brother.

20. Keen is sight atop a hill
when the sky is blue and clear;
in the dark it's clearer still
with a heart to see and hear.

Assignment for photography students and enthusiasts: This is an exercise in Creative Photography. Choose an appropriate photograph for each verse and capture its essence and message. Write the caption for the photograph. Enhance the human interest effect. Apply the elements of art. Can your work pass for a poster?

Living with Nature by AVR, Volume 3

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Abe V Rotor

These termites, where did they come from?
Browsing a book in entomology,
I stood like Alexander at Thermophilae,
And traced their tunnels from a tree to my room.
Haven’t I dug their hill where it once stood?
If termites live on dead wood,
Where do they get their food?
Ah, the roots, dead roots of the tree I pruned,
Imagining the wise man rising from his throne,
I looked at the tree, the termites and my home.
x x x

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Part 1: Medicinal Value of Insects

Dr Abe V Rotor

Green Tree Ant or hantik (Oecephala smaragdina ) is food for long life.

Insects give us the sweetest sugar - honey, the finest fabric – silk, reddest dye – cochineal, most lilting sound – crickets’ music, and strangest model of unity - termite and bee colonies. Insects fill Ceres basket with fruits and vegetables through the magic of pollination which no other creatures can match. And now they are moving into the front line of alternative medicine.

A former co-teacher had been limping for sometime. Then one day I met her briskly walking in the campus, her swollen arm hanging on a sling. “I got stung by bees,” she complained.

I remember having read in Time Magazine that bee sting is good for arthritis and rheumatism. In fact the number of clinics and doctors that use bee venom as an alternative medicine is increasing in number in the United States and other parts of the world.

The treatment is as simple as introducing the excited bee over the affected area, say, the knee or elbow. By holding the struggling bee with forceps, its posterior needle is aimed at the infected area. Once the needle is embedded the bee is removed, the sting with the attached poison sac is torn off leading to the insect’s death. (This is the same reason why the male bee dies after mating with the potential queen during the nuptial flight.) The poison sac contracts rhythmically as more poison flows into the affected muscles and nerves.

“Bee sting relieves arthritis and rheumatism,” I ventured explaining to the surprise of my co-teacher. “Why, it’s true!” she exclaimed. “Lately I’ve not been feeling tight joints and morning aches.” Jokingly she said she would like to go into honeybee keeping and get more bee stings. An article mentioned that beekeepers live active and longer lives. Some say occasional bee sting is good for the heart. Could this be true?

Bee venom treatment attracts many patients who are conscious of the side effects of synthetic drugs. In their testimonies they find it effective that many patients virtually hang their canes soon after the treatment. The relief allows patients to follow a regimen of exercise and controlled diet to help in healing.

Many kinds of insects have been reputed to possess medicinal properties The use of insects and their products in alternative medicine dates back to antiquity with the use of wild honey as poultice for wounds and infections other than its principal use as health food.

Bee Extract

In the first half of the last century there was a preparation known as Apis which is extracted from the bodies of honeybees. The extraction is done by killing the insects in ethanol while they are intensely excited. The medium digests their bodies for a month at warm temperature. It is finally brought to a strength representing two ounces of bees to one pint of the medicine. This preparation has been used for the treatment of “hives,” diphtheria, scarlet fever, erysipelas, dropsy, urinary irritation, and all kinds of edema accompanied by swelling and burning.

In an article, The Remedial Value of Stings, the author ER Roots reported that bee venom has been placed in the market in ampules is administered hypodermically thus giving the same effects as natural sting, minus the pain. Pre-testing for allergy is more convenient and doses are easier to adjust. But such treatment is not popular among Filipinos although many of us believe in the herbolario, manghihilot and faith healer.


Another insect with medicinal value is a mealy bug, Dactylopius coccus that produces cochineal. The insect is presently cultured commercially in Honduras, Canary Island, Mexico, Peru and Spain. Cochineal is extensively used as dye but lately it has been discovered to possess properties that allay pain, and it is reported to be effective in treating whooping cough and neuralgia.

Here is a short list of medicinal insects (Insects in Chinese Culture - Zachary Huang)

· The caterpillar of Hepialus armericanus (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) infected with fungus Cordyceps sinensis (Clavicipitales, Ascomycotina) has pharmacological properties of gingseng.

· Ants are used as health food and a medicine. Long-living people (average 90) attribute their longevity to the habit of frying up ants and eating them.

· Ant is a major component of a herbal medicine for hepatitis B.

Arthritis is the most popular disease to be treated by bee stings.

· Royal jelly is very popular as a health-strengthening food, especially among the "intellectuals" (professors, researchers, etc).

· A cockroach (Eupolyphaga sinesis) helps stop bleeding and heal bone fractures, swelling etc.

The cicada molts are good for scrofula and ulcer. Silkworm frass is medicine for diarrhea.

· Egg cases of praying mantis and blister beetles for kidney stone.

· For weak kidney centipedes are ground with some other herbs

· Gall produced by gall- making aphid (Pemphigidae) on Chinese sumac (Anacradiaceae: Rhus) are used for sores (Tinea, etc).


Part 2: Fly Maggots Heal Deep-Seated Wounds

Maggots of blue bottle fly (Caliphora vomitaria)

Abe V Rotor

I was reading an account of a very rare case of insect use as a substitute for delicate surgery. During the First World War, a certain Dr. W. S. Baer noticed that wounds of soldiers who had been lying on the battlefield for hours did not develop infections, such as osteomyelitis; much so unlike those wounds which had been treated and dressed promptly after combat.

The reason for this is: the older wounds were found to be infested with maggots. These maggots are larvae of flies, commonly houseflies (Musca domestica) and blue bottle flies (Calliphora vomitaria). The adult flies can detect the smell of blood and deposit their eggs around the wound, anticipating that their larvae will soon feed on the injured tissues.

Doctors who have observed this phenomenon were surprised to find out that the maggots do “clean up” the wounds, especially the deep-seated ones, more effectively than ordinary surgical or antibacterial treatment! This discovery led to the practice of rearing maggots under sterile conditions, then introducing these clinically clean maggots into wounds, there to consume the microscopic particles of putrefied flesh and bone. This practice, however, came to an end with the introduction of modern drugs and surgery. But to show how extensive this practice was, a survey conducted during its peak showed that 92 per cent of 600 physicians who had used this treatment reported favorably about it.

A renowned researcher Dr. William Robinson was able to isolate a substance from the secretion of the maggots that, he believed, contain the healing effects on infected wounds. This material is allantoin. It soon became commercially available as its importance began to be recognized.


Commercial allantoin is a harmless, odorless, painless, and inexpensive lotion which, when applied to chronic ulcers, burns and similar pus-forming wounds, stimulates local, rather than general, granulation. It is very valuable in treating deep wounds such as bone marrow infections, where the internal part of the wound must be healed first.

But allantoin solutions cannot be as efficient as using living maggots in the treatment of bone infections. It is because the maggots actually eat out the necrotic tissue, and kill the pus-forming bacteria by digesting them. In the process, the maggots continuously secrete minute quantities of allantoin in their excreta to the very depth of the wound especially where the use of surgical instrument is limited, if not dangerous.

Except in very isolated cases, modern medicine has succeeded in shelving the practice of using maggots on wounds.

Cantharidin – A Cure All Drug and Aphrodisiac

In our animal husbandry class, our professor, Dr. Rufino Gapuz, told us of a way to harness and calm down a cow that is in heat so that she can be safely brought to the corral for insemination. This was in the sixties when artificial insemination was something new in animal science. There is an injection prepared from the body of the blister beetle, called “Spanish fly”, Lytta vasicatoria.

This insect occurs in abundance in France and Spain, a relative of the American blister beetle. The beetle carries in its body cantharidin. It was used as folk medicine during the 19th century for all sorts of ailments, and was very much used as an aphrodisiac. At present it is used in treating certain diseases of the urinogenital system and in animal breeding.

In the seventeenth century, some curative power was attributed to almost every known insect. For example, the bite of katydid or cricket is said to remove warts, cockroaches or earwig when dried and compounded will cure ulcer, weak sight, earache and dropsy. This is of course pure quackery and superstitious belief.

Antibiotics and Anti-inflammatory Ant Secretion

With the decline in the effectiveness of antibiotics as a result of increasing resistance of pathogens, the search for more potent ones has widened into various fields, which today include plants, fungi, protists and monerans.

One potential source of antibiotics is the green tree ant (Oecophylla smaragdina), a member of the large order of insects Hymenoptera to which bees and wasps belong. Like their relatives the green tree ant that is locally known as hantik, lives in colonies. This social behavior enables them to grow in numbers of hundreds or thousands in a single colony, which can remain active for a long time. Other than its reported antibiotic property, the leaf nest of the green tree ant relieves inflammation when bandaged on the affected area.

Insects, the most numerous and oldest of all animals, have many good reasons to be with us. They are part of nature’s healing system which helps us live happier and healthier lives.

Reference: Living with Nature Handbook, by AV Rotor, UST Publishing House, Manila; Photo credit:

Monday, July 6, 2009

Yes, we can grow wheat in the Philippines

Abe V Rotor

Standing wheat crop, flowering period.

Wheat infloescence for pollination and fertilization

Ready to harvest crop

Harvested wheat ready for threshing

Threshing wheat

Whole wheat grains after threshing, equivalent to rice pinawa

Bread products from local wheat. Quality can be
compared with products from imported wheat.

Yes, we can grow wheat in the Philippines and save billions of pesos every year.

NOTE: Author was national wheat production coordinator under NFA-DA and PCARRD-DOST in 1980 to 1986.

Living with Nature, Volume 3. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Tourism: Hispanic Ilocos Region

Belfry on top of a Hill where Diego Silang was killed.
Bantay Ilocos Sur

Stairway to old Spanish church. Sta Maria Ilocos Sur

Sinking tower of Laoag, Ilocos Norte

Greco-Roman frieze, San Vicente, Ilocos Sur

Spanish houses, Vigan, Ilocos Sur.  Vigan is a UNESCO Heritage site.