Malunggay: Ang Pambansang Gulay

Published: August 2, 2019 05:15pm | Philippines


Did you know that the national vegetable is not mentioned in the popular folk ditty “Bahay Kubo”?
In 2017, a bill was passed in the House of Representatives declaring malunggay as the national veggie and designating November “National Malunggay Month.”
Malunggay has therefore joined the prestigious list of so-called Philippine icons like Philippine eagle, carabao, jeepney, anahaw, mango, among others, according to an article by health and science journalist Henrylito Tacio.

The bill cited malunggay’s economic, nutritional and supposed medicinal benefits. How does science view malunggay’s perceived health and wellness properties? The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) describes malunggay (Moringo oleifera) as a genus of shrubs and trees with multi-purpose uses.
Most useful is the plant’s leaves, which are consumed as food due to its nutritional richness. The UN food body cites as malunggay’s special qualities its being rich in protein, vitamins A, B and C as well as minerals.

The FAO also asserts that malunggay products have antibiotic, hypotensive (lowers blood pressure), antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, hypocholesterolemic and hypoglycemic properties.
Apart from its being an anti-oxidant, there are several scientific studies reporting the plant’s health and wellness benefits. While most of these researches were inconclusive though, these nevertheless provided strong evidence that moringa, in healthy doses, may enhance the body’s health and wellness.

A study cited malunggay’s ability to lower blood pressure. For instance, “a research on 30 women revealed that taking 1.5 teaspoons (7 grams) of moringa leaf powder daily for three months reduced fasting blood sugar (FBS) levels by 13.5 percent on average.” Scientists also believe malunggay contains isothiocyanate compounds that are said to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Malunggay is also cited as providing many benefits for the body’s organs. It is said that the plant can protect the liver against damage caused by anti-tuberculosis drugs. It also helps in keeping the digestive tract well-functioning, aiding in the passing of gas and wastes.

With malunggay’s often cited perceived nutritional, health and wellness benefits, it’s no wonder why the plant is called the “miracle tree” and the Philippines’ national vegetable. Health supplements that contain malunggay and malunggay extracts are therefore popular in the market nowadays. Among these is Yamang Bukid Healthy Product’s turmeric 10-in-1 tea, a popular morning drink. Aside from turmeric or luyang-dilaw, Yamang Bukid’s flagship health and wellness product contains malunggay and eight other herbs that help enhance health and physical wellness.

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The Wellness Benefit of Sambong

  • Sambong has been known in the Philippines and many Asian countries as an herb that has supposed medicinal properties. For centuries, our forefathers had used it to treat perceived maladies. In tracing its roots, the Department of Health said in an article called “The Legacy of Health” about the health benefits of Blumea balsamifera, commonly known as sambong by the Tagalogs and gabon in Cebuano-Visayan.

    The ancient Filipinos, according to the article, used sambong or gabon in treatment of kidney diseases (kidney stones, in particular), rheumatism, coughs, colds, hypertension and diarrhea.

    In other Asian countries like in India, China and Thailand, the use of sambong in traditional medication has been well documented for thousands of years.

    Recently, biological studies have been made about the plant’s perceived medicinal properties. While these studies were inconclusive, there are still researches that point to the positive effects and physical wellness properties of sambong.

    One of these is the plant leaves’ diuretic property. According to a study by the Asian Journal of Urology, sambong extract is able to break down calcium oxalate crystals, the most common of the so-called kidney stones.

    Aside from breaking down these “salt crystals” sambong extract is also observed to prevent the accumulation and balling up of tiny salt crystals into a bigger one, thus somehow preventing the development of kidney stones.

    Due to the changing diet patterns of most Filipinos brought about by the fast food culture and our reliance to ready-to-eat processed food, we tend to consume saltier and oilier diet, two risk factors for the development of kidney stones. According to Mayo Clinic, dehydration and less water intake as well as being in a warm climate also contribute to the possibility of having kidney stones.

    Sambong can be taken as a concoction, with young leaves boiled and the extracted juice taken as a tea. Its bitter taste may be too much for others so it can be taken orally with a little sweetener such as honey.

    Ground sambong leaves can also be applied topically (on the skin) to help small cuts and scratches heal quicker.

    Sambong is among the 10 medicinal herbs added to Yamang Bukid Healthy Product Inc.’s prime wellness product, the Turmeric 10-in-1 Tea. The herbal plant long known to Filipinos as a wellness ingredient, is mixed with nine other traditional medicinal plants and formulated based on high-quality world-class manufacturing practices. Also included with sambong and turmeric are extracts from ginger, malunggay (moringa), gynura procumbens, peppermint lemongrass (tanglad), pandan, lagundi and banaba.

    Yamang Bukid brand Turmeric 10 in 1 Tea

    Yamang Bukid Healthy Products Inc. is the Philippines' leading maker of quality wellness products.
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