Manila, July 13, 2003 Ethel Soliven. Timbol (BULLETIN) It is a well known fact that forests and gardens are our best source of medicines. I am not talking here only about medicinal herbs (which are quite obvious) but about fruits and edible plants that are gaining worldwide recognition for their medicinal and therapeutic value.

According to reader Lucille Buclatan, people were actually resorting to health supplements from the Philippines in the belief that the supplements would protect them from the SARS virus. It may have started with a statement by a Paris–based scientist called Dr. Luc Montagneir, who reportedly pioneered investigations on the AIDS virus.

Dr. Montagneir who is president of the World Foundation for AIDS Research and Prevention, allegedly prescribed using an extract of fermented papaya to boost immunity. He suggested that SARS patients take the papaya extract for its anti–oxidant qualities.

I suppose many natural anti–oxidants are found in fruits, vegetables, among other food that we eat, just as well as vitamins and minerals.

Take, for instance, ampalaya which is believed to be a natural remedy for diabetes and athrities. The popularity of ampalaya, as a vegetable and as a capsule, is such that there are many brands now out in the market. This worries me because the Food and Drug Administration has no control over such things other than to require that the manufacturers label their products as having no scientifically proven benefits.

Also growing in popularity is green tea, reputed to be effective as anti–cancer and as a body cleanser. It seems, in fact, that there is “tea” for everything, as a cure–all, remedy or relief for this or that ailment. There is even Herbal Tea, by the makers of ABS Bitter Herbs, recommended for people who are constipated. There’s lagundi tea for your cough, chamomile tea for dysmenorhia or simply to relax, tea for losing weight, etc.

The Ecarma Herbal tea and capsules, registered with the FDA as a dietary food supplement bases its products on the bark of the Philippine narra believed to have therapeutic effects. At first, it was used for leprosy patients with the effect of healing leprous sores. Eventually, the Ecarma products were being promoted for other diseases such as cancer, asthma, diabetes, cholesterol, kidney stones, etc.

Carica Herbal Health Products (CHHP) is a Philippine firm known for developing health supplements from local fruits and plants, including papaya extract. In fact, its president, Ramon Tan, says the name “carica” is derived from the scientific name of papaya.

CHHP products have penetrated the international market with its health products which are touted to provide “immediate relief like reduction of cholesterol, improvement of circulation,and enhancing the immune system.

Tan said its fermented extract of papaya is being exported to the USA, Canada, Japan, Germany, Russia, Italy, Middle East, Korea, Hongkong and Taiwan. Probably, sales of the papaya extract boomed during the recent SARS scare.

Tan said the fruits and plants used by CHHP come from the Sierra Madre, as well as mountains of Quezon, Bicol and Negros Occidental. Because the harvest from naturally growing trees in the forests are not sufficient for CHHP, Tan said the company has started a massive tree planting such as 5,000 kalumpit, liputi and bignai trees and at least 2000 saplings annually.

He said the CHHP is also developing a herbal garden which will be a conservatory of some 2000 medicinal plants in the Philippines. He added that Philippine flora was enriched by many species of plants brought in by colonizers and missionaries from Spain and Mexico as well as traders from India, China and Japan long ago.

I have tried some of Carica’s products for diabetes, blood circulation, hypertension, and the heart. Meanwhile, I love papaya in any form.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved