At the back of our house in Marag, plenty of gabi or taro used to grow. They grew next to our well (bubon) where the vicinity always has water.
Gabi growing profusely in our backyard was a Godsend. It was a ready source for a vegetarian viand. Thank goodness we also had a constant supply of coconuts which goes deliciously with taro.
As children, we were told to treat gabi with respect. Eaten raw the leaves and stalks can be poisonous as they contain oxalic acid. The sap that comes out when the stalks and leaves are torn can cause itch.
If suddenly rack with the desire to emulate Julie Andrews to do a turn of the Sound of Music ensure that the field is not one of verdant nettles with their beautiful bluish purplish little flowers. Otherwise you will be stinging not singing.
Nettles give painful sting like you don’t want to know. The Almighty God know of this that he ensured that a dock leaf is growing nearby! 🙂
Pansit-pansitan (Peperomia pellucida) Medicinal Herb
This was the herb given to us by the Lady of Necodemos, the manghihilot (healing massager) when we consulted her for stomach aches which seems to have afflicted our whole family in the Philippines after going for an overnight swim at Club Manila East.
She said to make a drink of tea from this herb.
She gave the following instruction:
Chop the herb and then boil in plenty of water. Leave to simmer for at least 10 to 15 minutes with the pan uncovered.
Turn off the stove and leave this herbal tea to steep for at least 10-15 minutes.
Strain and drink half a cup every four hours.
This herb will settle your stomach and digestive system.
Remaining tea can be stored for over a couple of days in a clean jar in the fridge.
Our holiday in the Philippines was one of hectic activity after another. We walked for miles, we climbed and climbed. There were some death-defying moments. We also swam, we travelled by water, we travelled by air, we travelled by land and the most trying of all, we trek on foot. We did everything almost humanly possible. 🙂 🙁
It was no wonder some of us came off worse for wear. We had pains in our feet, we had pains on our knees. We had pains in our head, and we had pains in our stomach. My mother felt pain in her armpit, she needed a hilot (massage).
Our kindly sister-in-law, Alma, who is a bit of a herbalist (albulario or is it albularia?) advised applying tuba-tuba in the affected area. Without much ado, she went to Quiapo, where you can buy all sorts of herbs and more.
Heating of tuba, tuba, photo by PH Morton
Armed with a bunch of tuba-tuba and a lit candle, Alma started to do her magic. One by one, we let her apply leaves of tuba tuba, warmed in the light of the candle. Bert went first, with his swollen foot, followed by Marilou with both her aching knees and then me with my fat painful knee as well.
We were supposed to leave the tuba-tuba taped into our skin overnight for it to do its work properly. The leaves apparently draw out the aches and pains.
Marie’s knew, photo by PH Morton
I have to admit, after just an hour my aching knee felt decidedly better. Tuba-tuba works.
The following morning Bert reported that the swelling on his foot had marginally subsided. Marilou, as well, said that she felt better.
Apparently, tuba-tuba is a proven wonder herb, so much so that the Philippines’ Department of Health has recognised its medicinal merit.
Jean’s knee, photo by PH Morton
The benefit of tuba-tuba does not stop there. The barks and seeds have been found to be a good source for biodiesel.
Tuba-tuba is a low maintenance plant. It can grow anywhere and in any type of soil. It can grow up to 3 to 8 metres in height, a good hedge plant around the garden.