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Start Your Own Herbs and Spices Almanac

Ireno is now a treasurer of his barangay since 2018. He just took the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) last March 24,2019.

Starting your own Herbs and Spices Almanac will inspire others to do their own research on the availability and importance it will give to family members and visiting friends. The idea popped in my mind as I gaze at my medicinal garden that is my favorite morning site while enjoying the rays of the sun.

There's an herbalist in our place that serves as my mentor in knowing the local names of the available herbs and spices that are used as first aid in combating diseases .

This hub will be changing from time to time as this hubber will continue collecting fresh samples of other herbs and spices that abound some parts of my town.

I thought about this project since April this year. I've seen and read from science books how early alchemists or scientists patiently collected herbs and spices' samples and conducted treatment to patients at different proportions to know the potency of those herbal finds.

You'll notice that most of us are clinging to the basic healing sources, such as herbs and spices.

My experiences on herbal plants and spices were:

  1. scratches and simple cuts and wounds being cured by Moors' herb or bulong Moros;
  2. pounded black pepper seeds can lessen the effects of cold and runny nose;
  3. oregano extract cured my ringing ear due to water that accidentally filled in during swimming;
  4. artamesa and yerba buena from Mint family for colds and headaches; and
  5. madre de cacao can lessen the itchiness on my skin due to mosquito bites.

Nevertheless, I can conclude that an herbal garden is so helpful when you want to cling to a more basic and no-side effect cure on illnesses.

This leads to my realization that knowledge on herbs and spices can help us realize that the treatment and healing of health disturbances should begin at home. With the proper guidance on mixing different herbs and spices, you can produce a potent treatment for a particular ailment.

My Herb Garden and the Papaya (Photo by Travel Man March 31, 2011)

My Herb Garden and the Papaya (Photo by Travel Man March 31, 2011)

I would say it's an 'incidental' herb garden because I used to grow seeds on it (papaya, oranges, tomatoes) before transplanting it. I planted the herbs for cooking purposes and medicinal applications, too.

Oregano is the most adoptable herb and it grows rapidly, overcoming other herbs in the area. I was lucky to grow the mayanao (red violet in color), romero and camangcao.

As for the spices, I just started growing black pepper at the elevated part of our lot just at the roadside but sheltered with ipil-ipil trees and mango tree.

For maintenance, I always shoo farm chickens away from the plants and some stray piglets of my neighbor. Even my dog, Brownie, sometimes eat some leaves of wild herbs to heal himself from colds and bites (from dog fight)

Mother knows best

Our place maintain a medicinal garden located at the vacant lot near the barangay hall. Some local herbs growing abundantly are oregano, yerba buena, mayanao (with red violet leaves), artamesa, lakad-bulan, kamangkaw (spearmint) and some wild hers like tawa-tawa, bagangan, puro-pungso.

Seven herbs are usually mix by my mother with toasted rice, boil it then after cooling; drink the concoction diluted with water. It's a sort of herbal tea that is effective in colon cleansing, thereby eradicating certain illnesses that weaken the body.

For a starter, my mother uses this herbal mixes of homegrown and wild finds:

  1. bark of anonang
  2. artamesa
  3. lakad-bulan
  4. kamangkaw (spearmint)
  5. bagangan (wild)
  6. puru-pungso (wild)
  7. kamoteng orig (wild)
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How I do it?

My Herbs & Spices Almanac requires ample time to complete. Some data are existing online, but local herbs didn't fit the description of some medical names. That's why, I'm using some of the local terms; looking the English name on Encyclopedia and Wikipedia for verification.

I had to use clean bond paper and spare cover or folder to keep my data intact.

Day 1 - I took some pictures of the available herbs on my medicinal garden. You can see the imposing papaya plant there. I had to single out photos of oregano, spearmint, mayanao and yerba buena or romero.

Day 2 - Took pictures of wild herbs used by people here for immediate cure for minor cuts and colds. I single out photos of tawa-tawa, bagangan, puru-pungso and bulong Moros.

Day 3 - I had to compile old, but clean bond paper and clean folder to start off with my project.

(I had to rest for awhile because some invitations came from the community to follow up things in our town. I saved first this hub and saw it's score rising even, though I didn't included the gist of this project.)

Day 4 - For fresh leaves of the available herb, I had to seal it on plastic covering that I bought prior to this project. I labeled it and paste on the bond paper and scribbled the medicinal benefits of particular herb and spice.

Day 5 - I had to collect samples of wild herbs that grow in our backyard and labeled it, too. I had to search online if there are already laboratory tests conducted for its medical values and toxicity level.

Day 6 - I compiled it in a secure folder. I'll book-bind it later.

Spices at home

Aside from the the usual garlic and onion plus hot pepper (siling labuyo) spices, I've grown some spices to enhance the taste of our tropical viands include:

  1. lemon grass -the most common. It grows naturally in tropical countries, like the Philippines. In Mindanao, there are many lemongrass farms, commissioned by factories that are making hair shampoos in the country.
  2.  dill weed - usually ignored by rural folks and only planted as garden item. I've known its uses when I went on board ship as a seafarer. We usually cook green peas with lots of it for the Greeks. They're also fond of it in fish stew and baked potatoes.
  3.  lubas (sour leaves) - I don't know the corresponding English word but this is often used on fish and meat stews. I used to chew its sour leaves for fresher breath.
  4. ginger - The red ones are quite expensive; unlike the white ones that grow fast in tropical climate.
  5. black pepper - Luckily, I was able to let it grow at the slope at the front yard of our house.

Herbs - The Wild Ones

When dengue fever invaded the homes of many Filipinos and victimized many children and young adults as well, some families who cannot afford fees on hospitalization cling to the so-called tawa-tawa (Filipino word variant for smile). I uprooted one, cleaned it and boil it whole, along with leaves stem and roots. When cooled, I drank it and it tasted sweet. No wonder, black ants frequent it's flower as it attracts other insects to sip its sweetness.

My cousin's friend, also a security guard related to me that his daughter recovered fully when they made a tonic drink out of tawa-tawa. The number of his blood platelets became normal again.

Other wild herbs that I collected, include:

  • bulong Moros - It means medicine from Moors or as the name suggested. My mother used to pound its leaves and applied the green juice at the open wound, whenever I had an accident when I was a child.
  • bagangan - used as local medication for dog bites. When I experienced it last February 13, 2011 (Please refer to my other hub on Dog Bite), my cousin who's our resident dog bite first aider instructed me to pound a handful of bagangan, dilute the juice with hot water then drink it. It is similar to the carabao grass, but I don't know the English name.
  • Puro-pungso - has a distinct balmy odor. Also serves as part of seven mixed herbs for tonic drink to relieve gas pain, colds, headaches and other antioxidant properties.
  • kamoteng orig - Pigs used to dig it for its little roots. We used to eat it, too, during our childhood days. It's also part of seven herb mixes used as tonic drink.

More facts on Herbs and Spices

  • How to Grow an Indoor Herb Garden
    Grow fresh herbs all year with an easy indoor herb garden. Learn the easiest herbs to grow inside and what you'll need in this article
  • Starting An Herb Garden
    You don't need a big yard to have an herb garden. In fact, you don't need a yard at all! See how easy it is to grow your own fresh cooking herbs in containers on your deck/patio or indoors.
  • Healing Properties of the King of Bitters Herb
    Yet another ancient herb is being used in the U.S. for it's powerful antioxidant compounds. The King of Bitters has a long history of use in Indian and Chinese medicine.
  • Chinese Herb Name Translations
    Traditional Chinese herb names have been compiled over thousands of years beginning with the famous Shen Nong (神农), mythical father of agriculture and author of the earliest major writings on Chinese herbalism contained in the Shen Nong Ben Cao...
  • Choose Your Garden - The Witches Herb Garden
    Diana's fascination with witchcraft puts her in good company, a lot of people are curious and embrace the subject wholeheartedly. Fortunately, we live in a time when we can look with lighthearted curiosity at the uses made by some of the more powerfu

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2011 Ireno Alcala


Ireno Alcala (author) from Bicol, Philippines on June 18, 2013:

@shina: Thank you for appreciating my work. Probably, this is my productive venture studying, collecting and archiving the endemic herbs in my locality.

shina on June 17, 2013:

keep up the good work

Ireno Alcala (author) from Bicol, Philippines on September 05, 2012:

@Thelma Alberts: Salamat uli Ma'am Thelma for gracing my hub. I love this work and pinned it, too. I was just inspired to document/record the available herbs and spices in our place.

Thelma Alberts from Germany on September 04, 2012:

Very informative hub! Now I know some of the names of the herbs that I have in my garden in the Philippines. Thank you.

Ireno Alcala (author) from Bicol, Philippines on March 10, 2012:

@joy: Salamat, Manay Joy sa pag-apreciar kan sakong ginibong artikulo. Maray man po ta narumdoman mo pa.

I hope it will be an added information to others, too. They should also research on the available herbs in their areas.

joy on March 10, 2012:


maogmahon ako sa mga terms mo na bicol.

nalingawan ko na ang mga yan, but because of you na refresh ang mind ko.


it's truly informative.


Ireno Alcala (author) from Bicol, Philippines on June 17, 2011:

@thesailor: Yes, colon problems are common among seafarers. You should always drink herbal tea or bring some dried herb leaves (oregano, etc.) because carcass consumption are frequent on board ship.

Frozen foods, especially meat can be hazardous to health, so watch out and be careful with what you eat.

Ireno Alcala (author) from Bicol, Philippines on June 17, 2011:

@Arian Rey: You better try it. Mine here in the backyard are growing fast due to regular rain showers.

It can also detoxify our colon with it. Just remember to observe the toxicity level of this pure wild herb. Better dilute it first with water, through boiling then drink it hot or cold.

Ireno Alcala (author) from Bicol, Philippines on June 11, 2011:

@Romano Arnesto: We have to be vigilant the effectiveness of medical cure these days. It's always good to know the cure that's available in your backyard...

thesailor from Seven Seas on June 03, 2011:

Most of the sailors bring dried herbs for medical purposes. Colon cleansing issue or detoxification is an 'in' thing among these men. With all the preserved foods on board ship (animal carcasses, chicken and fish and frozen vegetables), herbs and spices are good alternatives for self-healing.

Thanks for sharing this hub!

Arian Rey from Pearl of the Orient Seas (PHILIPPINES) on June 03, 2011:

I like to try that tawa-tawa. Almost all attest to its healing properties, especially dengue fever.

Romano Arnesto from Philippines on June 03, 2011:

Nice collection on herbs and spices. These days, it's important to know the medicinal purposes of many unnamed grasses around us, that turned into wild herbs or with medical purposes!

Ireno Alcala (author) from Bicol, Philippines on May 27, 2011:

@earthbound1974:Yes, its a lot of personal researches on local herbs and spices. I'm still asking for the English translation of local herb terms. I'm hoping to upgrade this hub, soon!

earthbound1974 from Bicol, Philippines on May 24, 2011:

This is a very personal collection on herbs and spices. Congrats for your work, travel man!

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