Medicines made from 10 DOH-approved Philippine medicinal plants have become ever more popular among Filipinos considering the expensive western medicines which most Filipinos could not afford. Herbal medicines has gained a wide acceptance and popularity among Filipinos in providing basic medical care.
The government has implemented the Cheaper Medicines Act and the creation of the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PITAHC), a government owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) attached to the DOH to answer the present needs of Filipinos on health care. With this, Filipinos can now rely on herbal medicines which are available in abundance, locally. Not only that, this will also provide a good business opportunity for many local farmers.
The Department of Health through its Traditional Health Program has endorsed 10 herbal medicinal plants which have been thoroughly tested and have been clinically proven to have medicinal value in the relief and treatment of various ailments.
Tips on Handling Medicinal Plants / Herbs:
• If possible, buy herbs that are grown organically – without pesticides.
• 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, enamelled, 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.
Herbal Medicine Processing
HARVESTING OF RAW MATERIALS
Preferably, the plants are harvested during its flowering stage. Provided mostly by the Herbal Plant’s plantation, the supply of raw materials is being augmented by contract growers.
WASHING OF RAW MATERIALS
After harvesting, the plant materials are washed in clear running water to remove dust and other dirt particles.
the raw materials are washed, spread on drying beds and are dried using a leaf dryer. Heat is regulated at a constant temperature of 60 degree Celsius.
Extraneous materials such as other parts of the plant, other particles and contaminants are removed by hand picking.
The garbled material is milled using a rotor beater mill after which it is sieved.
The milled powder then goes through a series of procedures mixing with binder, granulation, oven drying, sieving and addition of lubricant.
Compression of granules is done using a rotary tableting machine.
Several quality control measures such as moisture content and weight variation test are taken in order to meet the required standards.
As quality control measure, microbiological tests are done to determine the presence of bacteria in the product.
Potency, toxicity and other drug properties are determined through animal experimentation.