Manila, June 11, 2003 (STAR) There are a thousand and one reasons why we must preserve and conserve the narra tree, our country’s national tree.

Of course, the tall and sturdy narra provides the ecological balance to our environment – providing refuge to different species of birds, acting as soil stabilizer against erosion and landslides; while its thick foliage also serves as air purifier against a polluted atmosphere.

Popular for its durability, the narra hardwood is an excellent material for decorative floorings, furnitures, cabinets, carvings, panellings and even as musical instruments.

Aesthetically, it is sometimes planted for shade and ornament, even as markers along avenues.

But apart from its aesthetic values, the narra has other significant service to humanity. Little do we know that the lowly narra has a purpose in the health and well being of man; it has a unique healing powers waiting to be tapped by man.

The flowers of the narra tree, known for its scientific name Pterocarpus indicus Willd, are said to be a good source of honey; while the leaf infusion can be use as a shampoo. The termite-resistant, rose-scented timber is also a good source of kino, dried juice extracts that is sometimes used as an astringent in diarrhea.

The amazing healing properties of the Philippine narra tree are being conducted on patients with HIV/AIDS and with skin disorders at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) through the narra extracts called Ecarma herbal tea and capsules.

Col. Virgilio V. Ecarma, who concocted the teabag and capsules from narra extracts, has also put up a four-hectare property in Pililla, Rizal where the factory and a Wellness Center are located.

Here, HIV patients undergo religious treatment protocol of the Ecarma herbal tea, where numerous healed cases are reported.

A former Philippine Airline Boeing 747-400 captain and a reserve lieutenant colonel of the Philippine Air Force, Ecarma also distributes free teabags and capsules to some patients of the Lung Center of the Philippine in Quezon City and at the Tala, Leprosarium in Caloocan City. Herbal tea and capsules are also distributed free in impoverished communities and centers such as the Father Hofstee Community Center.

The one-man crusade to popularized the healing effect of narra has yielded the following results:

• HIV/AIDS patients were nursed back to health with restored appetite, gain in weight, clearing of skin diseases and other HIV manifestations.

• Leprosy patients who were resistant to the multi-drug therapy were alleviated, such as the healing of their longtime wounds and the recovery of their peripheral nerve functions such as the ability to feel pain, to sense either hot or cold, and their sense of touch, which they lost before.

• The monthly agony of women with dysmenorrhea was alleviated.

• End of suffering for people with rheumatoid arthritis.

• Leveling to normal the blood sugar of people afflicted with diabetes mellitus and the alleviation of their complications such as the restoration of impaired sexual functions, improved vision and more energy. • Improving problematic prostate gland and easing urine flow.

• Excretin through urine kidney and bladder stones.

• Melting away cysts and curing asthma.

• Less occurrence and milder colds and flu.

• Cleansing of the body systems and burning of fats.

Col. Ecarma’s untiring efforts have also yielded international attention. Dr. Robert Rister, author of "Healing Without Medication," a thick book on plant-based pharmaceuticals that is annually updated.

Rister is planning to visit the country in September to write a book on Philippine herbs and is now collaborating with Ecarma on conducting a control group experiment of foreign patients to come to the Ecarma Wellness Center.

Dr. Andrew Kiura of Nazareth Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya, who visited the RITM, is also conducting his own investigation on the Ecarma herbal tea and capsules in Africa.

Here in the Philippines, noted television personality broadcaster Arnold Clavio is a veritable example of the narra extract’s fat burning wonder after losing 20 pounds taking the Ecarma capsules.

It is best that we heed the call of the environmentalists in thinking twice before cutting down those narra trees. The lowly and sturdy narra may save our lives.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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