Science and herbal medicine in the Philippines.

American Universities Field Staff Reports, Asia Series. 1978; 48:1-5.

In many Philippine barrios, where many people cannot afford modern pharmaceuticals, herbolarios and other healers using folk medicine recipes and techniques are the villagers' major protection against illness, pain, and death. At one time, herbalists practiced under threat of prosecution for practicing medicine without a license; revealing the influence of Western standards in Filipino society. With the rise of nationalism, attitudes toward all forms of health care have begun to change, and the Filipinization of medicinal drugs is just beginning to get official support. This development includes greater control over imported pharmaceuticals and incorporation into regular use of herbs and other substances long used in folk medicine. This is seen as important because much of the Philippines cannot be reached by modern physicians and must rely on herbolarios who use available plants. Government scientists and doctors are working with a number of well-known nontoxic herbs used in the barrios for treatment of specific ailments. Hospital personnel are beginning to test these herbal medicines directly on human volunteers and are keeping records to determine their effectiveness. The Philippine General Hospital in Manila has created a small ward for patients who wish to be treated by herbal medicines, and at the National Institute of Science and Technology, along with the current compilation of a scientific pharmacopeia of Philippine medicinal herbs, staff members are preparing a handbook for herbolarios proposed for publication in 1978. In general, an increasing number of government officials are becoming aware of the importance of folk medicine and its practitioners to the health and well-being of ordinary Filipinos.

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