List of Philippine Medicinal Plants

If you are into herbs and medicinal plant business, here’s the extensive list of Philippine Medicinal Plants.


A las cuatro is found throughout the Philippines in the settled areas in cultivation and also frequently spontaneous in the vicinity of towns. It was introduced from Mexico by the Spaniards at an early date, and is now pantropic in distribution. It is often cultivated in Manila and in large towns.This is an erect, nearly or quite smooth, branched plant, growing to a height of 20 to 80 centimeters.

The leaves are narrowly ovate, 4 to 10 centimeters long. The involucres are crowded, calyxlike, 1 centimeter long or less, and have one flower. The perianth is white, purple, or yellow, 3 to 4 centimeters long, with a cylindrical tube, which is slightly enlarged upward, and with a spreading limb. The fruit is narrowly ovoid, about 8 millimeters long, black, and finely ribbed.

According to Maurin the roots contain oxymethylanthraquinone, but their purgative action is not due to this constituent. Yoshimura and Trier isolated an alkaloid, trigonelline, from the plant. Chopra reports of the purgative action of trigonelline. Wehmer records that the plant yields galactose and arabinose.

Burkill mentions that the pounded seeds are used in Malaya and elsewhere by Chinese and Japanese women for making a cosmetic powder. Burkill quotes Rumpf, who states that the powdered root was used with rice powder and sandalwood for the same purpose by the Spanish women in Ternate. In China the flowers are also used for cosmetic purposes.

Burkill says that the big tubers were formerly mistaken in Europe for the source of Jalap, and used as a purgative; but their action is very feeble. The roots have been reported as mildly purgative by Martinez, Sanyal and Ghose, Daruty, Chopra, Nadkarni, Debeaux, and Freise, and as emetic-cathartic in Mexico. Sanyal and Ghose and Nadkarni assert that the fresh juice of the leaves is very soothing and is applied to the body to allay the heat and itching in urticaria arising from dyspepsia. The bruised leaves are used in India and Java for poulticing boils and abscesses, and the juice is used for uterine discharges.

Gimlette and Burkill report that the juice of the leaves is prescribed internally in a mixture for gonorrhoea. Reutter states that its infusion is prescribed as a diuretic and for dropsy.


Abang-abang is common in thickets and secondary forests at low and medium altitudes throughout the Philippines. It also occurs in Formosa, the Caroline Islands and Yap.

This is a smooth or nearly smooth shrub or small tree 3 to 6 meters in height. The leaves are three to four times pinnately compound and 50 to 80 centimeters long. The leaflets are elliptic-ovate to oblong-lanceolate, 6 to 15 centimeters long, toothed at the margins pointed at the tip and rounded or somewhat pointed at the base. The flowers are borne on large cymes, up to 50 centimeters in diameter, are five-parted and about 3 millimeters long; a few open at a time; the stalks and the calyx are red and the petals pale yellow. The fruit is dark red, depressed-globose, and about 8 millimeters in diameter.

According to Guerrero, the roots, branches, and leaves of this species used in decoction, are considered vulnerary.


Abaniko is planted for ornamental purposes but is nowhere naturalized. It is a native of southeastern Asia, and is now cultivated in most warm countries.The rootstock is creeping. The stem is erect, leafy, tufted, 0.5 to 1.5 meters high. The leaves are 2-ranked, strongly imbricated, crowded, sword-shaped, 40 to 60 centimeters long, 2.5 to 4 centimeters wide; those of the stem equitant. The inflorescence is dichotomously branched, terminal and erect. The spathes are ovate-lanceolate, and about 1 centimeter long. The flowers are pedicelled, opening 1 or 2 at a time, 4 to 6 centimeters across. The perianth-tube is very short, and the segments narrowly elliptic, spreading, yellowish outside, and inside reddish-yellow with reddish spots. The capsules are obovoid, membraneous, and loculicidal. The seeds are nearly spherical in shape, with lax and shining tests.

According to Hooper this is an important drug in China. The rhizome is sold in markets in hard, longitudinal slices, which are dark brown outside with transverse markings, and a few rootlets, and light yellowish-brown within. It is bitter and acrid. It is recommended as expectorant, deobstruant, and carminative. It is given in pulmonary and liver complaints and for purifying the blood. In Malaya it is a remedy for gonorrhoea. Hooper quotes Rheede, who says that it is an alexipharmic in Malabar. Kirtikar and Basu cite Loureiro, who states that the roots are used medicinally in Cochin China, and that they have aperient and resolvent properties.

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