I understand Dr. Michael Tan’s disappointment at the good habit of the Philippine government of going all out for imported western drugs when the country has abundant materials to develope a home-grown pharmaceutical industry.
He rues in his column at the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the country is blessed with natural bounties, vast flora and fauna that have immense medicinal potentials but still remain untapped because the government (then led by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) has that nice policy of splurging rare foreign reserves importing medicines and ingredients instead of utilizing indigenous sources.
Herbal medicines, to paraphrase him, have become a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide and the trade continues to grow as more and more people find their effectiveness.
The Philippines could have done the same but lags behind in this field because its government scrimps on research of the medical potentials of its natural bounties. Try surfing the net and you will find malunggay (Moringa oelifera) which is abundant in the Philippines bottled as capsules, tablets or liquids and marketed worldwide but sporting US brands.
For a start, Dr. Tan asks for a P200 million research budget. That’s nothing, he argues, because the amount is merely equivalent to the “tongpats” (offered kickback to Joey De Venecia who blew the whistle on the mastermind of the botched $300-million NBN-ZTE deal).
Be that as it may, despite government skirting its obligation to encourage scientific research, the Department of Health (DOH) has come up with a list of plants with medicinal properties and recommends 10 of them.
Incidentally, Averrhoa bilimbi, known in the country as “iba” for Ilonggos or “kamias” in the Tagalog Region, is not even among them.
There is one webpage, http://www.stuartxchange.org/Kamias.html, however, that considers it more than a mere souring ingredient or stain remover, that we regard it as. Iba is rich in nutrients and healing properties. Among others, it lowers blood sugar, cholesterol and hypertension. It fights harmful micro-organisms and cancer.
I can’t confirm on the veracity of the claims above but personally, I have my own experience with iba. I ferment it as pro-biotics, done by slicing its beries and mix with mascovado sugar (red and unrefined sugar), four tablespoons of that to half a kilo of the fruit.
The sugar extracts the juice of the berries and in less than 24 hours there is already a juice of two glasses from half a kilo of iba berries. I let the mixture brew for two to three days before starting to consume it, two to three spoons of that before breakfast or in an empty stomach.
I consume both the fluid and the pulp which, I also share with my dogs and chickens. One effect of that is that it helps detoxify the body as it increases the frequency and volume of bowel movement, urination and sweating.
I haven’t taken anti-biotics for years. And because of the pro-biotics, I stopped applying anti-biotics as well on my dogs and chickens. I can see the sound health of my animals through their solid bodies, glossy hair; they very seldom feel ill and whenthey do, they recovr fast. They have no problem with respiratory ailments notwithstanding the fact they often get drenched the whole cold night during heavy rains.
I used to consider iba as a mere souring ingredient in broth or a stain remover for clothes. That bias of mine disappeared after buying a 75-ml bottle of iba wine during a trade exhibit at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol. The drink, brewed by a local cooperative, has a calming, soothing effect. It gives me a sound sleep, a very sound one. It costs only P180 per bottle.
Try experimenting it yourself. Wish you success.