Saturday, January 30, 2016

Introduction to Ethnobotany: Know these 25 specimens

How familiar are you with these plants? List down the potential uses of each of these specimens, other than their native or ethnic importance.  

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday

  • Find out the scientific name of each specimen, and place in the taxonomic system of classification
  • Trace their country of origin and geographic distributiion
  • Research on their association with  folklores.  

 (1) Balimbing

(2) Papait
(3) Bagbagkong
(4) Saluyot
(5) Alugbati
(6) Pansit-pansitan
(7) Kamias
(8) Bawang
(9) Pandan Mabango

(10) Yerba Buena
(11) Siling Labuyo
(12) Karimbuaya or Sorosoro
(13) Talinum
(14) Tanglad
(15) Arusip

(16) Tsaang Gubat
(17) Squash flowers (male)
(18) Dampalit
(19) Pako'
(20) Himbaba-o or Alokong
(21) Gulasiman or Ngalog
(22) Tangkoy or Wax Gourd

(23) Tainga ng Daga
 (24) Kutsai
 (25) Singkamas 
(26) Duhat
(27) Malunggay

 (28) Luyang Dilaw
 (29) Bugnay or Bignay 
(30) Achuete

Ten (10) Herbal Medicines in the Philippines Approved by the Department of Health (DOH)

Dr Abe V Rotor 

Here are the ten (10) medic
inal plants that the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) through its "Traditional Health Program" have endorsed. All ten (10) herbs have been thoroughly tested and have been clinically proven to have medicinal value in the relief and treatment of various aliments:

1. Akapulko (Cassia alata) - also known as "bayabas-bayabasan" and "ringworm bush" in English, this herbal medicine is used to treat ringworms and skin fungal infections. (photo)

2. Ampalaya (Momordica charantia) - known as "bitter gourd" or "bitter melon" in English, it most known as a treatment of diabetes (diabetes mellitus), for the non-insulin dependent patients.

3. Bawang (Allium sativum) - popularly known as "garlic", it mainly reduces cholesterol in the blood and hence, helps control blood pressure.

4. Bayabas (Psidium guajava) - "guava" in English. It is primarily used as an antiseptic, to disinfect wounds. Also, it can be used as a mouth wash to treat tooth decay and gum infection.
5. Lagundi (Vitex negundo) - known in English as the "5-leaved chaste tree". It's main use is for the relief of coughs and asthma. (Left photo)  (le

6. Niyog-niyogan (Quisqualis indica L.) - is a vine known as "Chinese honey suckle". It is effective in the elimination of intestinal worms, particularly the Ascaris and Trichina. Only the dried matured seeds are medicinal -crack and ingest the dried seeds two hours after eating (5 to 7 seeds for children & 8 to 10 seeds for adults). If one dose does not eliminate the worms, wait a week before repeating the dose.

7. Sambong (Blumea balsamifera)- English name: Blumea camphora. A diuretic that helps in the excretion of urinary stones. It can also be used as an edema.

8. Tsaang Gubat (Ehretia microphylla Lam.) - Prepared like tea, this herbal medicine is effective in treating intestinal motility and also used as a mouth wash since the leaves of this shrub has high fluoride content. (= Carmona retusa)

 9. Ulasimang Bato | Pansit-Pansitan (Peperomia pellucida) - It is effective in fighting arthritis and gout. The leaves can be eaten fresh (about a cupful) as salad or like tea. For the decoction, boil a cup of clean chopped leaves in 2 cups of water. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain, let cool and drink a cup after meals (3 times day). (photo)

10. Yerba Buena (Clinopodium douglasii) - commonly known as Peppermint, this vine is used as an analgesic to relive body aches and pain. It can be taken internally as a decoction or externally by pounding the leaves and applied directly on the afflicted area.

Tips on Handling Medicinal Plants / Herbs:
• If possible, buy herbs that are grown organically - without pesticides. (Or get herbs from your own garden)

• Medicinal parts of plants are best harvested on sunny mornings. Avoid picking leaves, fruits or nuts during and after heavy rainfall.

• Leaves, fruits, flowers or nuts must be mature before harvesting. Less medicinal substances are found on young parts.

• After harvesting, if drying is required, it is advisable to dry the plant parts either in the oven or air-dried on screens above ground and never on concrete floors.

• Store plant parts in sealed plastic bags or brown bottles in a cool dry place without sunlight preferably with a moisture absorbent material like charcoal. Leaves and other plant parts that are prepared properly, well-dried and stored can be used up to six months.

Tips on Preparation for Intake of Herbal Medicines:
 • Use only half the dosage prescribed for fresh parts like leaves when using dried parts.

• Do not use stainless steel utensils when boiling decoctions. Only use earthen, enameled, glass or alike utensils.

• As a rule of thumb, when boiling leaves and other plant parts, do not cover the pot, and boil in low flame.

• Decoctions loose potency after some time. Dispose of decoctions after one day. To keep fresh during the day, keep lukewarm in a flask or thermos.

• Always consult with a doctor if symptoms persist or if any sign of allergic reaction develops.

Reference: Philippine Herbal Medicine

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Sea Vegetables: Farming the Sea

In memory of Professor Eduardo de Leon
UST Faculty of Pharmacy
Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog []
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid  738 DZRB AM with Ms Melly C Tenorio 
8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday
Students in phycology from UST explore seabed for different species of seaweeds, Bacnotan LU.  

Food of the gods.” This is what the ancient Greeks call a special kind of seaweed which the Chinese and Japanese call “food of the emperor.” And only members of the royalty have the exclusive right to partake of this food. It is Porphyra – nori to the Japanese, laver to the Europeans, and gamet to Ilocanos.

Thus elevating the status of some 30 species of edible seaweeds to a premium class of food - sea vegetables. The fact is seaweeds have a wide range of importance from food and medicine, to the manufacture of many industrial products. In nature, seaweeds together with corals and sea grasses, constitute the pasture and forest of the sea, a vast ecosystem, unique in its kind because it is the sanctuary of both marine and terrestrial life, and in the estuaries.

Lately however, we have intruded into this horizon, pushing agriculture beyond land towards the sea. We build fishponds, fish pens and cages, resorts, and we introduce poison from our wasteful living.

And yet we have barely discovered the many uses of seaweeds. Ironically we are indiscriminately and unwittingly destroying the very production base of this valuable resource before we have discovered its full potential – in the same way we are destroying the forest even if we have studied barely 10 percent of the potential value of its composition.
 Seaweed specimen: a continuous belt of Chaetomorpha crassa: 
A happy note however, may be found in our success in cultivating seaweeds even before naturally occurring species and stands become exhausted. Seaweed farming has been established in coves and sheltered coral reefs such as in Danajon Reef between Cebu and Bohol, on flat coral beds in Calatagan in Batangas, Zamboanga and Tawi-tawi, to mention the most important plantations. Eucheuma, the source of carageenan is the main crop, followed by Gracillaria, Gellidiella and other species as source of algin and agar.

These seaweeds built a multi-million dollar industry locally. Their extracts have revolutionized the food industry, mainly as conditioners in food manufacture. More and more products are derived from them for our everyday use, which other than in food, are used in the manufacture of medicine and drugs, cosmetics, fabrics, paints, films, to mention a few.

Kulot (Gellidiella) is prepared for sun drying. Dried Kulot is added to bulanglang or diningding.  

Seaweeds, botanically speaking, are not true plants, but rather algae – giants among their counterpart in the micro-world such as the Chlorella and Spirogyra. Biologists have assigned seaweeds into classes based on their color or dominant pigment, hence green (Chlorophyta), brown (Phaeophyta) and red (Rhodophyta). In terms of niche, these three groupings grow naturally at varying depths - in increasing depth in this order. This is ecologically advantageous and definitely a tool in their evolutionary success.
Unlike land plants, no seaweed has been found to be poisonous or pathologic. On the contrary seaweeds are rich in minerals and vitamins, which make them elixir of health. Only one species so far is known to cause dizziness when taken in excess - lato or Caulerpa. A substance responsible to this effect is caulerpin, which may be explored of its potential value in medicine as natural tranquilizer.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Food Value of Seaweeds
Fishes that feed on seaweeds contain high levels of Vitamins A and D in their liver, apparently absorbed from the seaweeds. Algae also synthesize appreciable amounts of Vitamins B12, C and K. Another advantage they have over land plants is their rich content of iodine, bromine, potassium, and other chemicals that have been discovered recently, many of which have potential value to medicine and industry.

It is no wonder why people who take seaweeds as regular part of their diet are sturdier and healthier and seldom get sick of anemia, goiter and scurvy. It is an observation that the Ilocanos who are the country’s top consumers of seaweeds generally enjoy good health and long life.

The cultivation of other edible seaweeds now include Enteromorpha, Monostroma, Laminaria, Porphyra and Undaria. The importance of seaweed culture is fast expanding this century, principally for food. This is to show the food value of seaweeds using kelp as a model.

Kelp (Laminaria japonica) contains the following nutrients based on a 100-gram sample: Carotene,  0.57 mg;
  • Thiamine, 0.09 mg;
  • Riboflavin, 0.36 mg;
  • Niacin, 1.60 mg;
  • Protein 8.20 g;
  • Fats, 0.10 g;
  • Carbohydrates, 57 g;
  • Coarse fiber (roughage), 9.80 g;
  • Inorganic salts, 12.90 g;
  • Calcium, 1.18 g;
  • Iron, 0.15 g; and
  • Phosphorus, 0.22g.
Philippine seaweeds which approximate the food value of Laminaria are Eucheuma, Gracillaria and Gellidiella. On the other hand, gamet or Porphyra has the following food value. (Based on a 100-gram sample)
  • Protein, 35.6 g;
  • Fat, 0.7 g;
  • Carbohydrates, 44.3 g;
  • Provitamin, 44,500 IU; V
  • Vitamin C, 20 mg;
  • Vitamin B1, 0.25 mg;
  • Vitamin B2, 1.24 mg; and
  • Niacin, 10 mg.
Seaweeds Sold in the Market
These seaweeds are commercially sold in Metro Manila, mainly in public markets and in talipapa.

1. Lato or Arusip [Caulerpa racemosa)(Forsk)L Agard], Chlorophyta

2. Guso (Eucheuma sp.), Rhodophyta
3. Gulaman (Gracillaria verrucosa), Rhodophyta
4. Kelp (Laminaria sp.), Phaeophyta
5. Gamet (Porphyra crispata Kjellman ), Rhodophyta
6. Kulot [Gelidiella acerosa (Forsk) Feldman ]

Caulerpa racemosa , arusip or lato

Lato or Caulerpa is of two commercial species, C. racemosa which is cultured in estuaries and fishponds and and C. lentillifera which is usually found growing in the wild. It is the racemosa type that predominates the market. Because of frequent harvesting of this species by local residents lentillifera it is no longer popular in the market. Besides, the cultured Caulerpa is cleaner and more uniform. It has lesser damage and is less pungent than its wild counterpart.

Author examine a red seaweed, Halymenia durvillaei (Puerto, Sto Domingo IS)

Guso or Eucheuma cotonii is cartilaginous and firm as compared with Caulerpa and because it is very much branched air can circulate better in between the fronds, which explains why its self life may extend up to 3 days. Guso is eaten in fresh state mixed with vegetables or cooked in water and sugar to make into sweets.

Gracillaria verrucosa and G. coronipifolia are the two common species of gulaman. The thallus is bushy with a firm fleshy texture. It is cylindrical and repeatedly divided into subdichotomous branches with numerous lateral proliferation. Gulaman grows up to 25 cm long and has a disclike base. It is found growing in protected, shallow waters.

Gamet or Pophyra crispata Kjellman has a deep red thallus which is flat and membranous with soft gelatinous fronds. Three to nine blades usually form clusters which grow from a very small adhesive disc which has tiny rhizoids attached to the rocky substratum. Gamet grows on rock promontories and rocks exposed directly to the action of waves and wind. This can be observed along the coast of Burgos, Ilocos Norte, which is the major producer of gamet. To date we have not succeeded in culturing gamet in spite of our knowledge on how nori, a species of Porphyra similar to our own gamet, is raised on marine farms in Japan and other parts of the world. The most authentic reason is because the natural habitat of Porphyra is temperate.

Why gamet grows along the northern most tip of Luzon is because the cold Kuroshu Current coming down from Japan reaches this point during the months of December to February. The current probably carries also the reproductive parts of the organisms, which explains the similarity of the Japanese and Philippine species.

Closeup of fresh Porphyra or gamet 

Gamet is sold in dried form, compressed in mat, either circular with a diater of 20 to 30 cm, or rectangular in shape measuring some 50cm x 100 cm. Gamet is blanched with boiling water and allowed to cool before salad garnishings are added. It is also added to soup or diningding.

Kulot or Gelidiella acerosa (Forsk) Feldmann and Hamel has tough and wiry thalli, greenish black to dull purple in color. They lie low and creeping on rocks and corals along the intertidal zone. It is very much branched when mature with secondary branches cylindrical at the base and flattened towards the tip and beset on both sides with irregular, pinnately short branches. The fertile branchlets have conspicuous swollen tips.

Kelp or Laminaria is also found in the market. This is popular seaweed growing only in temperate seas. The main supplier is China. Kelp grows to several feet long and is usually thick and broad. It is sold in dried form or cut into strips and soaked in water and rehydrated.

As a source of nutrition and natural medicine, seaweeds are important in commerce and industry and as direct source of food of the people. On the point of ecology, protection of seaweeds in the wild, as well as their cultivation on reefs, farms and estuaries should be integrated under a sound management program of our coastal areas. Thus preserving God’s Eden under the Sea.
 Seaweeds swept by wave on the shoreline comprise mainly of Sargassum, the most abundant seaweed in the tropics.  Author (right) leads students in this field trip in Bacnotan, La Union   
 Two brown seaweed species belonging to Phaeophyta - Acantophora speciferea and 
Hormophysa triquetra, a source of antibiotics
Caulerpa taxifolia is one of the renegade  species  of Caulerpa ( another is C sertulariodes).  These wild species have spread extensively over the seafloor of the Mediterranean causing a lot of damage to the ecosystem. Caulepa contains caulerpin which when taken in excessive amounts may be toxic to many organisms. Its effect on man is known to be mild tranquilizer.

In observance of World Food Day October 16, 2015. Theme: “Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty”, and how this links with the UN theme for Expo 2015, “The Zero Hunger Challenge · United for a sustainable world”.
and International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, 17 October 2015. Theme: Building a sustainable future: Coming together to end poverty and discrimination

Jungle survival - building fire

Try this technique in your next camping if you are a boy scout or member of an Eco Camp. You can do it better than in the movie Castaway. You may set a prize for the winner.
Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School on Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday

Heat by friction brings dry bamboo
shavings to kindling temperature.

Spontaneous combustion is aided
by blowing to increase oxygen.

Smoke gets into your eyes. Success!
Subic, Zambales 2008

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Portfolio of Superstitious Beliefs 5: Babies smile at angels we don’t see.

Dr Abe V Rotor

1. Babies smile at angels we don’t see. 

2. Kill a chicken for a new born baby as an offering. 

3. Sweeping or cleaning the house while a dead relative is in wake will lead to the death of another member of the family. 

4. Eating jackfruit during menstruation is prohibited otherwise the woman will get sick and even die. 

5. When planting sitao (string bean), place a comb on your hair to induce the production of abundant long fruits.

6. Eating chicken cooked with squash will cause leprosy.

7. A woman on her menstrual period should not visit a garden or orchard otherwise the plants will become sick or die.

8. To know if it is true jade, it remains cool even if the body is warm.

9. Beware of the werewolf. Man can turn into a wolf, and vice versa. 

10. Eight (8) is a lucky number; 8 is infinity. It means money will circulate.

11. Four (4) means in Chinese C or death. Every time you reach an age with the number 9 or 4, take precaution; you are prone to accident. 

12. Don’t cut fingernails at night; it’s bad luck.

13. In Chinese marriage, the woman walks backward led by a relative to be delivered to the bridegroom.

14. If a child keeps spitting, it will rain.

15. If you point at the moon your will suffer a cut.

16. Don’t allow your friend to remove your ring, otherwise you will quarrel.

17. Fixed marriage at birth is good luck.

18. Chinese calendar is late by two months – New Year is in February.
Chinese age starts one year at birth. 

19. Palm lines may change, so with our lives. 

20. Blessed palm on Easter Sunday is hang at the door for good luck.

21. First cut hair and fingernails of a baby must be kept in a book so that he will be intelligent.

22. Wearing black is symbol of mourning; to the Chinese it is wearing all white. 

23. Among the Chinese, miniaturized house, car and the like, go with the departed to assure him of a happy afterlife.
24. In a Chinese temple, you offer food to the gods, and then eat it after. This is not the case in Filipino custom; just leave the food offering (atang).

25. To the Chinese, paper money goes with the dead; it will be converted into real money in afterlife. 

26. Light candles outside of the house during All Saints Day in deference to of the souls of the dead and the unseen.  (Lighted candle also drives flies away.)

27. When you happen to encounter a funeral entourage, throw some coins in respect of the dead. 

28. Don’t stand in front of a gate if you are pregnant.

29. If by mistake it’s the bride that hands over the arras to the bridegroom, expect that she will be the breadwinner. 

30. Diamond studded wedding rings do not make a perfect relationship. ~

A Portfolio of Superstitious Beliefs 2: Bed must not face the door, otherwise the sleeping person will become a victim of bangongot (mysterious death in sleep).

 Dr Abe V Rotor 

 1. Bed must not face the door, otherwise the sleeping person will become a victim of bangongot (mysterious death in sleep). Note: Sudden unexpected death syndrome (SUDS), sudden unexpected nocturnal death syndrome (SUNDS), sudden adult death syndrome (SADS), or bed death is sudden unexpected death of adolescents and adults, many during sleep. Not to be confused with Sudden cardiac death. Bangungot is depicted in the Philippines as a mythological creature called batibat or bangungot. This hag-like creature sits on the victim's face or chest so as to immobilize and suffocate him. When this occurs, the victim usually experiences paralysis. It's said that one should bite their tongue and wiggle their toes to try to get out of this paralysis or they may die from suffocation.

2. Place some coins in the foundation of buildings and other structures during ground breaking ceremony to make them strong and withstand time.

3. Children are sacrificed in making bridges and other infrastructure.

4. Bury placenta with rosary and pencil so that the child will be both intelligent and God-fearing.

5. Palms with crisscross lines (rapas Ilk) means the person is cruel.

6. Palms with netted lines means the person has an unorganized life (magulong buhay).

7. Shake (pagpagin) the items such as clothes after a customer had left without buying any, to break bad luck.

8. Place money in a bed pan (arinola), so that it becomes plentiful.

9. Babies that fall from their cradle do not suffer injury, thanks to their guardian angels.

10. When you give a wallet as gift be sure you put a coin or a money bill in it so that the wallet won’t run out of money.

11. When transferring to a new house carry with you 24 oranges, salt, water, and rice.

12. Jade stones around the wrist of a baby indicate his condition. If they turn light in color the baby is not well.

13. When transferring a dead person into the house, be sure it is head first; when taking him out, it is feet first.

14. When blessing a new vehicle, sprinkler fresh blood of chicken in tires and engine to bad omen of accident.

15. Don’t bump the coffin while carrying it; it is bad luck.

16. Pour water at the doorway once the coffin has been taken out.

17. Wash face and hands after the dead has been laid to rest.

18. When coming from a wake have a stopover somewhere and do not directly go home, otherwise the spirit of the dead will follow you.

19. The wishbone of a chicken makes a wholesome game for two. Wish comes true to the one who gets the common stem of the Y-shape bone.

20. One can determine the sex of the baby by the poise and shape of the pregnant woman. If rotund, it’s going to be a girl; if pointed, it’s going to be a boy.

21. During labor, if the pain is bearable and continuous, it’s going to be a girl; if labor pain is intermittent and intense, it’s going to be a boy.

22. When leaving the dining table ahead, those who are still eating must rotate their plates, otherwise they will remain bachelors or spinsters. (The belief is silent on the fate of the married ones.)

23. Couple to be married the following day must not see each other the night before.

24. When Friday comes don’t talk about the supernatural, such as kapre, dwende, and the like.

25. Never buy a cat; it will not be a good mouse catcher.

26. If a cat sneezes it’s going to rain. But if it sneezes three times, everyone in the family will catch cold.

27. A cat that has its back towards the fire means a typhoon in coming.

28. Unfortunate events usually happen on full moon.

115. Whenever you go to a church for the first time make three wishes.

29. If you buy a stuffed or figurine elephant, choose one with its trunk turned upward. It means good luck.

30. Don’t open the umbrella inside the house; vermin will come out.

31. When planting beans, place a comb on your hair to induce the production of abundant long fruits.

31. Orange clouds are bad omen; they are signs of either drought or poor harvest.

32. If you accidentally bite your tongue it means someone is speaking about you.

33. Knock only twice – not thrice, else you court the attention of the devil.

34. Sleep with your head toward the east or north to prevent nightmares.

35. To keep luck for yourself and the family hang a horseshoe with its tips up. If you want your luck to be shared with those who enter your house, hang it the opposite way.

36. If your nose itches, someone is thinking about you.

37. Never take home flowers from the cemetery, otherwise someone is going to die.

38. Eating sour fruits during menstruation will cause menstruation to stop.

9. Girls on their very first day of menstruation are asked to jump down from the third step of the stairs in order to limit their monthly period to three days only.

40. The stained underwear of a girl on her very first day of menstruation is asked to wipe her face with it so that she will have a beautiful, fair and acne-free face. ~

Acknowledgement: Photo from Internet