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Ethnomedicinal Knowledge of Plants among the Indigenous Peoples of Santol, La Union, Philippines

Michelle B Ducusin

Published Date: 2018-01-03
Michelle B Ducusin*

Department of Science and Technology, Philippine Science High School, Ilocos Region Campus, Republic of the Philippines.

*Corresponding Author:
Tel: 63 077-674-1446;

Received date: September 18, 2017; Accepted date: October 10, 2017; Published date: October 17, 2017

Citation: Ducusin MB. Ethnomedicinal Knowledge of Plants among the Indigenous Peoples of Santol, La Union, Philippines. Electronic J Biol, 13:4

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With today’s younger and more educated populace, knowledge or information of these traditional herbal medicines is no longer valued as being useful. Further, with the advent of modern medicine and technology, the indigenous knowledge of herbal medicine and practices handed down from forefathers has been threatened to extinction. Thus, this research identified the types of medicinal plants used by local people and investigated the extent to which the plants are used. A total of 40 informants were interviewed, allowing for Calculated Informant Consensus Factors (ICF), Use Value (UV) and Fidelity Levels (FL) for each medicinal plant species used to cure various ailments. This helped to establish a consensus on which species are effective for a particular ailment, as well as the species’ relative importance, and enabled us to understand the extent of potential utilization of each species. The therapeutic effects of 109 plant species used medicinally against 13 categories of ailments. The highest ICF values were cited for diseases of the eye and adnexa and for genitourinary system. High FL values were found for gatas-gatas/tawa-tawa (Euphorbia hirta L.) and malmalukong/takip-kuhol (Centella asiatica (L.) Urb.) used for the treatment of sore eyes and inflamed ears, respectively. The highest UV (1.00) was for guava (Psidium guajava L.) and lagundi (Vitex negundo L.). All plants with high UV were used for exogenous diseases, diseases of the skin and subcutaneous tissues, respiratory and digestive system. There are different modes of preparations of the medicinal plants. For instance, immediate treatment for cuts was demonstrated by using crushed leaves of Pantalyon/suob-kabayo (Hyptis suaveolens Poir.). This study demonstrated that many plant species are important in local healing practices and that knowledge of traditional medicine is utilized and plays a significant role in Santol, La Union. The documentation of this rich traditional enthomedicinal knowledge has paved way for novel information for pharmacological investigations to improve health care for a range of ailments.


Ethnomedicine; Informant Consensus Factor (ICF); Fidelity Level (IF); Use Value (UV); Bago Tribe; Kankanaey Tribe.

1. Background of the Study

The connection between man and plants is enormously important because plants affect every aspect of man’s existence by providing an incessant source of varying materials i.e. food, timber, fibres, dyes, tools and many others. Medicinal plants have been used for treatment since ancient times and are still in use all over the world. Of the 422,000 flowering plants found globally (Govaerts [1] as cited by Abe et al. [2]) more than 50,000 are used for medicinal purposes [3]. The practices of plant-based traditional medicine are based on hundreds of years of belief and observations which predate the development of modern medicine [4].

Medicinal plants and herbs have been used for many centuries as a source of people’s medicines for the prevention and treatment of diseases and still provide the first line of primary health-care even in the present age to major segments of the population worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (2003), it is estimated that up to 80% of the population depends exclusively on plants for their health and healing.

Indigenous knowledge refers to the cumulative and complex bodies of knowledge, know-how, practices and representations that are maintained and developed by local communities, who have long histories with interactions with the natural environment. With the growing threat of losing traditional knowledge in the modern time, many efforts have been made to record and publish this knowledge. In the past few years, a renewed interest on the natural method of treatment or traditional medicine arose worldwide. In recent years, work on ethnobotanical knowledge worldwide has dramatically increased especially in some parts of Europe, Asia and Africa (Pieroni et al. [5] as cited by Balangcod [6]). Despite many ethno-medicinal studies that were performed all over the world, a relatively few documentation on ethno-medicinal plant is done in the Philippines, with some focusing only on well-known indigenous peoples including the Pinatubo Negritoes and their use of plant resources; the Tasadays in Mindanao, who have been a subject of various studies; the Itawes of Cagayan and the Ibaloi of Benguet province and their utilization of forest resources [7].

The information and folk knowledge regarding the medicinal and therapeutic uses of these indigenous plant materials have been handed down from generation to generation through verbal communication [8,9]. Studies in the ethnobotany of cultural groups that rely on the oral tradition to pass on traditional medicinal plant knowledge from generation to generation indicates that in addition to the great wealth of knowledge of economically useful plants, these cultural groups also have an extensive knowledge of economically useful plants and the traditional techniques used to manage, harvest and conserve these species [10,11].

There is no specific history record as to how Santol got its name but tradition speaks of two accounts which are tied up to a tree called Santol. The first version states that this place was once a favourite hunting ground of people of the Ilocandia, notably the people from San Vicente, Ilocos Sur who were very much interested in sculpture especially in the making of images. They came to see a big tree which is now called as Santol tree and from then on made it their main material in making images. During those days then, idols/images locally termed as “Santo” were made out mostly of said tree. In the same manner that the tree got its name ‘Santol’, because of its common use as material for making “Santo”, the municipality also got its name from that historic tree, hence, Santol.

According to the second version, the more popular one, it was during the Spanish-American war that Santol got its name. It is said that when the Spanish soldiers pass by the place, they met women carrying baskets full of ripe santol fruits. The soldiers asked the name of the place, but, the women did not understand Spanish and just though that the soldiers were asking the name of the fruit they are carrying. They answered, “Santol, Apo.” The soldiers did not understand the local dialect and all they remembered was the word Santol, hence the name of the place.

During the early settlement of the Spaniards, the ancient inhabitants were Igorots and new Christians. The Igorots lived in the formerly virgin forests along the deep streams when a group of new Christians came. Slowly, they pushed the Igorots to the remote mountain sides. Intermarriages between Ilocanos and Igorots soon followed. From this, more and more people adopted Ilocano as their dialect. As of 1995 census, 70% of the population speak llocano. Other dialects spoken are kan-kanaey by 31.20%, Bontoc by 0.15% and Tagalog by 0.33%.

Santol considered being formerly a part of the municipality of Balaoan becomes a township in 1908 under the sub-province Amburayan, Mountain Province. In 1922, Mountain Province relinquished Santol to become a part of the municipal district of La Union.

The town of Santol is considered a safe harbor for there had been no distinct destruction of lives or properties during the historic events regarding wars and calamities. Such was true during the Spanish regime and Japanese occupation. Evidence of this is that Barrio Mangan was set aside as the place of the military emergency hospital. It was also here where the center of distribution of food supplies for army personnel was located while Barrio Banbanaba was site of message center directly in touch with all the barrios of Balaoan, Santol, San Gabriel and Sudipen.

Most of the residents are farmers who live near/on mountains, plains and farmlands. Based on the 2010 Census of Population and Housing, out of the 12, 007 residents, 5016 are considered to be indigenous peoples of Kankaney and Bago origin. The indigenous peoples in Santol exhibit a remarkably high degree of cultural and environmental interdependence.

The use of plants by indigenous peoples all over the world has been underreported and this prevents the scientific community from benefiting from traditional knowledge which has taken centuries to develop in the form we know them today. Nowadays, indigenous knowledge on medicinal plants is fast diminishing because as more plants are lost, so is the knowledge of their value to humanity. In the study, the relationship between the Kankanaey and Bago and plants will be demonstrated. This study aimed to document the indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants among the indigenous peoples of Santol in terms of the (a) plants they used to combat disease, (b) parts of the plant used, (c) modes of preparation, (c) how such knowledge is obtained and transmitted, and (d) frequency of use. It also defined the previous and current status and cultivation practices pertinent to the plant utilized for medicinal purpose and provided insights on some possible threats to their traditional knowledge. The conservation of ethnobotanical knowledge is becoming increasingly important; thus this research aimed to document the use of medicinal plants and healing practices in Santol, La Union, identify the most important species, determine the relative value of species and calculate the informant consensus factors. Finding of this research will provide a data base for future research and potential source for the development of new drugs.

2. Methodology

2.1 Study area

Santol, the site of the study, is a fourth class municipality in the province of La Union. It is located 16°46′N 120°27′E with a total land area of 93.70 km2. It is situated in the eastern mountainous area of La Union at the boundary of Ilocos Sur (Figure 1). It is bounded on the north by the Municipality of Sudipen, on the northeast by the upland Municipality of Sugpon in Ilocos Sur, on the south by the Municipality of San Gabriel, and on the west by the Municipality of Balaoan. Santol is politically subdivided into 11 barangays. Santol comprises mostly of hilly and mountainous areas and a small portion of alluvial plains.

There are nine barangays in the municipality inhabited by indigenous peoples namely Lettac Norte, Lettac Sur, Mangaan, Poblacion, Puguil, Ramot, Sapdaan, Sasaba and Tubaday. The ethnic groups are predominantly Kankanaey and Bago. There are health centers in every barangay and one Rural Health Unit (RHU) located in the town center. Typically, local people utilize plants to address their health concerns. Only when they cannot be treated that they choose to visit the health centers. Not all residents have accessed to sanitary toilet facilities and safe drinking water.

2.2 Data collection

Preceding the conduct of the study, approval and endorsement of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)-ROI was sought. Upon approval by the NCIP-ROI, a prior informed consent was pursued through several consultations with the community. Data regarding ethnobotanical knowledge were gathered through extensive survey, focused group discussions and semi-structured interviews with residents and informal conversations with Medical Personnel from the RHU. The information gathered through interviews was consolidated by field observations. A total of 40 individuals (16-90 years old) were interviewed including the elderly and Barangay Health Workers (BHWs), who were identified by the local administrators and community leaders. Several visits were conducted for validation purposes. Field visits involved direct contact with the community. Ethnobotanical surveys to the forest areas were accomplished with the help of several key informants. At same occasions, plant samples were collected and brought to the communities for identification, local names and the ethnomedicinal uses.

The informants were about their knowledge of the plants they used to combat disease, parts of the plant used, and modes of preparation, and details concerning how each plant are administered to patients, how such knowledge is obtained and transmitted and frequency of use. The previous and current status and cultivation practices were also investigated.

The plants’ vernacular names were collected with the help of the local people. Scientific names were determined by identifying herbarium species and checked against references in the Dictionary of Philippine Plant Names [12]. Scientific names of plants were determined using The Plant Names Index [13].

The gender, educational background, occupations, monthly cash incomes and PhilHealth membership of the informants were also recorded.

2.3 Data analysis

Use categories

The medicinal plants were identified based on the information obtained from the informants in the study area, and the reported applicable ailments were classified into 13 categories based on the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) by the World Health Organization. The categories are infectious and parasitic diseases; endocrine, nutritional and metabolic diseases; diseases of the eye and adnexa; diseases of the ear and mastoid process; diseases of the circulatory system; diseases of the respiratory system; diseases of the digestive system; diseases of the skin and subcutaneous tissue; diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue; diseases of the genitourinary system; diseases during the postpartum period; undefined pains or illness; and injury and poisons from external causes. Moreover, information on plants that have a medicinal use but that also used for food or other economical uses will also be noted. Every time a plant was mentioned as being used to any extent, it will be considered to be one use-report. If one informant used a plant to treat more than one ailment in the same category, it was considered a single use-report [14]. However, a multiple use-report was considered when at least two interviewees mentioned the same plant for the same ailments.

Informant consensus factor

To determine the agreement between informants over which plants should be used for each category of ailments, the Informant Consensus Factors (ICF) was calculated (Trotter [15]) using the formula: ICF=(Nur– Nt)/(Nur–1), where Nur refers to the number of usereports in each category and Nt refers to the number of taxa used for a particular category by all informants. The ICF provided a range of 0-1, where high values (approaching 1) are obtained when there is a welldefined selection criterion in the community and/ or if information is exchanged between informants, and values are low (near 0) when plants are chosen randomly or if there is no exchange of information about their use among informants.

Use value

The use values for plants (Philips et al. [16]) was calculated to provide a quantitative measure for the relative importance of species known locally: UV=(ΣUi)/n, where Ui is the number of use-reports cited by each informant for a given species and n refers the total number of informants. Use values are high when there are many use-reports for a plant, implying that the plant is important, and low (approach to 0) when there are few reports related to its use. The use value however, does not distinguish whether a plant is used for single or multiple purposes.

Fidelity level

Because many plant species are utilized in the same use category, the most preferred species used for the treatment of a particular ailment must be determined by calculating Fidelity Levels (FL) (Friedman et al. [17]): FL=Np/N, where Np is the number of use- reports cited for a given species for a particular ailment, and N is the total number of use-reports cited for any given species. High FL values (near 100%) are obtained for plants for which almost all use-reports refer to the same method of use (that is, the plants were considered the most preferred species for a particular ailment category), whereas low FLs are obtained for plants that are used for many different purposes.

2.4 Statistical analysis

Descriptive statistical method was employed to analyse and summarize the ethnomedicinal data on the reported medicinal plants and associated knowledge (Tables 1 and 2).

Category Diseases or ailments ICD- 10 No. of use- reports % of all use- reports No. of species % of all species ICF Most frequently used species FL (%
in this cate gory
Diseases of the ear and mastoid process Earache, mumps VIII 9 1.04 4 1.84 0.63 Malmalukong
/takip-kuhol (Centella asiatica (L.) Urb.)
Diseases of the respiratory system Asthma, nasal congestio n, pneumoni a, cough, sore throat X 128 14.81 24 11.05 0.82 Five leaved chaste tree; lagundi (Vitex negundo); Oregano (Plectranthus amboinicus Lour.) 11.7
Diseases of the eye and adnexa Red eyes, sore eyes VII 3 0.34 1 0.46 1 Gatas- gatas/Tawa- tawa (Euphorbia hirta L.) 100
Diseases of the circulatory system Anemia, high blood pressure IX 44 5.09 14 6.45 0.7 Garlic; Bawang (Allium sativum L.) 14
Injury and poisons of external causes Allergy, burns, cuts and wounds, dislocation/Fracture, sprain, insect bites, poison XIX 117 13.54 29 13.36 0.76 Pantalyon/su ob-kabayo (Hyptis suaveolens Poir.) 26
Diseases of the genitourinary system Urinary, chronic cystitis, kidney XIV 143 16.55 22 10.14 0.85 Sambong (Blumea balsamifera (L.) DC.) 11
Undefined pains or illness Abdominal pain, headache, body pain, cough, fever, backache, stunned XVIII 83 9.61 28 12.9 0.67 Turmeric; Luyang dilaw (Curcuma longa L.) 6.02
Diseases during the postpartum period Abortive, menstruati on, newly delivered XV 40 4.63 10 4.61 0.77 Herbaka (Artemisia vulgaris L.) 13
Infectious and parasitic diseases Ascariasis, chicken pox, head lice, herpes, ringworm, scabies I 33 3.82 9 4.15 0.75 Bayabas (Psidium guajava L.) 45.4
Diseases of the skin and subcutaneous tissue Boils, skin eruptions, XII 86 9.95 24 11.06 0.73 Hibiscus; Gumamela (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L.) 17.4
Diseases of the digestive system Constipati on, diarrhea, inflammati on of
rectum, ulcer, toothache, mouth sore
XI 134 15.51 38 17.51 0.72 Bayabas (Psidium guajava L.) 15
Endocrine, nutritional and metabolic diseases Diabetes, nutrients, tonic IV 21 2.43 5 2.3 0.8 Horseradish tree; Malunggay (Moringa oleifera Lam.) 24
Diseases of the musculoskele tal system and connective tissue Arthritis, rheumatis m, swollen muscles XIII 23 2.66 9 4.15 0.64 Turmeric; Luyang dilaw (Curcuma longa L.) 22

Table 1: Categories of ailments and informant consensus factor (ICF).

The relative importance of different plants was computed based on the consensus of informants' responses. It was calculated from the proportion of informants who independently reported knowledge on a given use against a particular disease or disease category following the approach used by Phillips et al. [16]. The informants' consensus was used to examine the effectiveness of medicinal plant/s to treat a particular ailment.

3. Results and Discussion

In the Philippines, ethnomedicinal knowledge is intrinsic among ethnic groups and is inherited from their great ancestors by oral communication. In the study, the relationship between the indigenous peoples of Santol and plants are demonstrated. A total of 109 medicinal species distributed to 20 genera and 15 families were cited to treat different kinds of ailments. Based on responses and personal observations, the common health problems are respiratory diseases and stomach ailments.

3.1 Knowledge of medicinal plants

Differences in occupation or educational background did not influence the reported knowledge of medicinal plants. Additionally, those aged over 60 were more well-informed than the younger generation and the use of medicinal plants decreased with decreasing age. Although almost all informants reported that knowledge of medicinal plants was inherited form their ancestors through oral tradition, the number reporting this varied by age, which implies that knowledge of the use of medicinal plants may be threatened gradually.

3.2 Frequency of use of medicinal plants

Most people in the upland barangays used medicinal plants. They are isolated from the town proper by towering mountains. Further, public utility vehicles are only available during Mondays and will cost them one hundred forty pesos (Php 140.00). With that, people in the upland barangays namely Sapdaan, Sasaba, Mangaan, Tubaday, Puguil and Ramot do not have opportunity to buy over-the-counter medicines and geographically prevented from having access to professional healthcare compared with residents of the lowland barangays.

3.3 Characteristics of medicinal plants

The data obtained from field surveys are summarized in Table 2. Both the scientific and vernacular names for the medicinal plants are given by taxonomic category and family. In this survey, 109 plant species were recorded for their medicinal use, and these belonged to 15 families and were used to cure ailments in 13 categories. For three (3) out of the 109 species, only the local name was documented. In terms of the number of species used, of the 109 plant species identified, Solanaceae with four species, followed by Poaceae and Asteraceae with three species, respectively are dominantly used. The Solanaceae family contain a large variety of phytotoxins, mainly alkaloids, diterpenesm esters, glycosides and ricin-type toxins [18].

Pla nt No. English/Co mmon Name/ Scientific Name Family Local Name No. of Use- Repo rts Use Value s (UV)a Diseases or Ailments Parts Usedb Preparation and Administrationc
1 Gouania javanica Mia. Rhamna ceae Rungo-rungo 5 0.13 Mouth Sore Sp E Apply
2 Oregano (Plectranthus amboinicus Lour.) Labiatae/Lamiaceae Oregano 14 0.43 Cough Sprain Lf I Roast partly and squeeze;  drink the sap  or juice thrice a day
  Lf E Fastened pounded and heated leaves with coconut oil
3 Lemon grass; tanglad (Cymbopog on citratus DC. Stapf) Syn: Andropogo n citratus DC. Graminae/Poaceae Baraniw 1 0.25 Inflammation of Lower Limbs Menstruation Abdominal pain   Difficulty of urination Profused sweating UTI; difficulty of urination St I Drink decoction
1  Lf I Drink decoction
1  Lf I/E Drink decoction of stems Apply pounded leaves on abdomen
  5 Whole Parts I Drink decoction 
  1  Br   I Drink decoction
  1  Lf  I Drink decoction thrice a day
4 Hibiscus; Gumamela (Hibiscus rosa- sinensis L.) Malvaceae Kayanga; Gumamela 15 0.38 Boils Lf, Fw E/I Apply pounded leaves or flowers on affected area. Drink decoction of flowers
5 Mahogany (Swietenia mahogani Jacq) Meliaceae Mahogany 3 0.08 Diarrhea Sd I Drink decoction of seeds or chew and swallow the juice or sap
6 Grass; Kogon (Imperata Cylindrical L.) Graminae/ Poaceae Pan-aw/Kogon 1 0.25 Menstruation Difficulty of urination Productive cough Rt I Drink decoction
8  Rt  I Drink decoction
  1 Lf I Drink decoction
7 Horseradis h tree; Malunggay (Moringa oleifera Lam.) Moringaceae Marungga y/malungg ay 3 0.8 Skin eruption, cuts and wounds Nutrients   Anemia, high blood pressure Insect bite Induce lactation Swollen muscles Toothache Lf E Pound until soft and juicy, apply
directly or topically
  15   Lf, Sd I Eat cooked leaves as vegetables
  5   Lf, Sd I Eat fresh or cooked leaves or seeds as vegetable.
  1  Lf E Apply fresh, heated leaves on bitten area
  5  Lf   I Eat cooked leaves as vegetable
 1 St E Fastened pounded and heated stem or leaves with banana leaves and coconut oil
2 Lf  E Apply crushed leaves  on affected tooth
9 Alstonia scholaris (L.) Poir Apocynaceae Dalipaoen/ Dalipaon 12 0.4 Diarrhea Malaria Abortifacient Bk I Drink decoction
10 Soursop; Guyabano (Annona muricata L.) Annonaceae Guyabano 3 0.1 Swollen muscles; rheumatism Lf I/E Drink decoction thrice a day. Apply on swollen muscles with few  drops of oil
1 Stunned E Smell crushed leaves
11 Ginger;
(Willd. )
Roscoe )
Zingiberaceae Laya 1 0.33 Skin
body pains Cough Sore throat
Rz E Apply pounded rhizomes
2 E  Fastened  pounded and
heated rhizomes or leaves with coconut oil
5 I   Pound   and  squeeze, drink the sap or chew fresh rhizome
5 I  cut  into  small   pieces
and use as lozenges
(candy),  allow  to  stay in
mouth for several hours
12 Guava;
guajava L.)
Myrtaceae Bayabas 20 1 Cuts, wounds
and sores;
care in
Diarrhea Scabies, skin
Lf, Sp E Apply sap directly.
Wash  with  decoction  of
20 Lf, Fr
15 I/E   Drink   decoction  of
Leaves. Chewed young
leaves or young fruits and
swallowed   Apply  leaves
on navel with oil
5 Lf E Wash with decoction of
E Use decoction
(lukewarm) as an
antiseptic wash
13 Queen's Crape- myrtle; Banaba (Lagerstroe mia speciosa (L.) Pers.) Lythraceae Banaba 12 0.35 Difficulty of urination Flu Lf, Fr I Drink decoction
2 Lf, Br E Chopped and boiled leaves for cold or hot bath sponges
11 Bougainvill ea (Bougainvill ea spectabilis) Nyctaginaceae Bougainvillea 1 0.03 Diarrhea Lf I Drink decoction
12 Sambong (Blumea balsamifera (L.) DC.) Asteraceae Subusob 5 0.88 Fever; headache; flu Difficulty of urination Cough Lf
E Chopped and boiled leaves for cold or hot bath sponges
15 I Drink decoction
15 I Drink decoction
13 Five leaved
Verbenaceae Dangla 15 1 Fever;
headache; flu
asthma Difficulty of urination
Lf E   Chopped   and  boiled leaves   for   cold   or hot
bath sponges
15 Lf I   Drink   crushed  leaves diluted  by water
4 Lf I Drink decoction
29 Turmeric; Luyang dilaw (Curcuma longa L.) Syn.
Cucurma domestica
Zingeberaceae Luyang dilaw 3 0.2 Arthritis Rz   E Fastened pounded and heated rhizomes or  leaves with coconut oil
5 High blood pressure I Boil with water for 15 mins. Drink thrice a day
30 Wild spikenard; suob- kabayo (Hyptis suaveolens Poir.) Rubiaceae Pantalyon/ litalit 30 0.75 Cuts and wounds; bleeding Lf E Apply crushed leaves directly to wounds to stop bleeding. Rub on crushed leaves
31 String bean; sitaw (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp. subsp.
Sesquipeda lis)
Leguminosae Utong (shoots) 5 0.13 Difficulty of urination Lf I Eat tops as vegetables
32 Prayer beads; Saga (Abrus precatorius L.) Fabaceae Bugaiong 10 0.3 Cough; Asthma Bleeding Lf; Rt I Drink decoction
2 Lf E Rub on crushed leaves to stop bleeding
33 Kullo- kullot 1 0.05 Insect bite Lf E Apply fresh, heated, steamed leaves on prick of poison fish, sea urchin, or insect bites
1 Difficulty of urination I Drink decoction
34 Corn; Mais (Zea mays L.) Graminae/ Poaceae Mais 11 0.3 Difficulty of urination Sk I Drink decoction of young hairs thrice a day
1 High blood pressure I Drink decoction of young hairs thrice a day
35 Jatropha gossypifolia L. Euphorbiaceae Tagumba w 10 0.25 Dislocation/fr acture St E Fastened heated stens with coconut oil for 3–5 s
36 Wild castor; Kirisol (Ricinus americanus Miller) Fabaceae Tagumbau 10 0.38 Bleeding, ulceration of wound Lf Bk E Use fresh leaves, 2 to 3 blades, remove petiole, pound and extract juice, decoct in water.
5 Snake bite E Bark, slightly pounded, placed in the mouth as cure for snake bites; also applied to bites of various animals.
37 Snake weed; asthma weed; tawa-tawa (Euphorbia hirta L.) Euphorbiaceae Tawa- tawa/Gata s- gatas/Bot onis 3 0.43 Anemia Cuts and wounds High fever and dengue fever Abdominal Pains
Skin eruptions; scabies; local bleeding Snake bite Kidney stone Sore eyes
Whole plant Lf I Drink decoction thrice aday
1 Lf E Apply crushed leaves  on affected area
3  Sp I Drink decoction thrice a day
38 Noni; Apatot (Morinda citrifolia L.) Rubiaceae Apatot 2 0.05 Diarrhea Lf I Drink decoction
39 Petroleum nut (Pittosporu m resiniferum Hemsl.) Pittosporaceae Dael 2 0.05 Diarrhea Sd I Eat fresh seeds
40 Malabar hoary; Palis (Callicarpa candicans (Burm.) F. Hochr.) Verbenaceae Anobrang 3 0.15 Cough Dysmenorrhe a Lf I Drink decoction.
41 Kamatis (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.)
Syn. Physalis peruviana L.
Solanaceae Kamatis 1 0.025 Burns Lf E Apply pounded leaves
42 Lima bean; patani (Phaseolus lunatus L.) Leguminosae Patani 1 0.03 Scabies Lf E Mix leaf juice/extract with oil and apply liberally on the affected part
43 Melon tree; Papaya (Carica papaya L.) Caricaceae Papaya 2 0.15 Constipation Dog bite Appendicitis Fr I Eat a lot of ripe fruits
2 Fr E   Rub   crushed unripe fruits on the bite area
2 Fw I Drink decoction
44 Sweet tamarind; Kamatsile (Pithecellob ium dulce (Rorb.) Benth) Leguminosae Damortis/ kamatsile 1 0.08 Cuts and wounds Indigestion Bk E Apply pounded bark directly
2 I Drink decoction
45 Common resurrectio n lily;Dusol (Kaempferi a galangal
Zingiberaceae Dusol 1 0.05 Dog bite; Snake bite Wound Lf E Rub crushed or pounded leaves
1 Rz E Apply crushed rhizome mixed with oil
46 Lead tree; Ipil- ipil(Leucae na leucocephal a Lam.) Mimosaceae Ipil-ipil 1 0.03 Intestinal worms Sd I Chew and eat raw seeds
47 Candle bush; Senna; Akapulko (Cassia alata Linn.) Syn. Cassia sophera Linn; Senna alata
L. Roxb.
Fabaceae Andadasi 0.5 0.2 Ringworm, scabies, eczema, tinea infections, itches, insect bites Lf E Pound enough fresh leaves; express (squeeze out) the juice and apply on the affected skin morning and evening. Improvement should be noticed after 2 -3 weeks of treatment.
48 Pigeon pea; Kadios (Cajanus cajan (L.) Huth) Fabaceae Kardis 2 0.08 Cough Ulcers of the Mouth Sd I Eat cooked seeds as vegetable
1 E Apply juice/extract from pounded seeds
49 Ashitaba (Angelica keiskei (Miq.) Koidz.) Apiaceae Asitaba 1 0.05 Diabetes High blood pressure Lf I Eat fresh leaves.
I Eat fresh leaves
50 Flamingo lily; Anthurium (Anthurium andraeanum Linden ex Andre) Aracaceae Anthorium 1 0.03 Kidney disease Lf I Drink decoction
51 Benghal day flower; bias-bias (Commelina benghalensis Linn.) Commelinaceae Kulkul-lasi 1 0.03 Boil Lf E Apply pounded leaves
52 Makahiya (Mimosa pudica L.) Syn.
Mimosainvisa Mart.
Fabaceae Bain- bain/maka hiya 15 1 Difficulty of urination Tooth bleeding Cuts and wounds Abdominal pain Dysentery Dysmenorrhe a Rt I Drink decoction
5 Swollen muscles Rt E Apply juice/extract
2 Rt E Apply juice/extract
2 Rt I Drink decoction
1 Rt  I Drink decoction
1 Rt  I Drink decoction
1 Lf  E Apply crushed leaves  on affected area
53 Elephant’s
ear; Bagambang (Macaranga tanarius (L.)
Euphorbiaceae Sabauil 3 0.08 Bleeding St E A handful of leaves  are
salted and oiled, then heated over embers and stroked over the entire body, from head to foot
54 Long pepper; Litlit (Piper retrofractum Vahl) Piperaceae Liwliw/Am aras 3 0.08 Postpartum fevers and chills Lf E Apply heated with oil or fresh leaves
55 Curranttree; Bignay (Antidesma bunius Linn.
Spreng) Syn.
Antidesma ciliatum Presl.
Euphorbiaceae Bugnay 3 0.28 Diarrhea Fever Urinary Tract Infection Kidney disease Cough
High cholesterol
Lf I Drink decoction
1 Lf
4 Lf
1 Bk
1 Lf
1 Lf
56 Tiger grass; Indian pennywort; Takip-kuhol (Centella asiatica (L.) Urb.) Umbelliferae Petngag/ Malmalluk ong/laplap ayag 2 0.18 High fever Lf E Apply fresh leaves on a forehead
1 Difficulty of urination; UTI I Drink decoction
5 Mumps; boils E Apply juice/extract on affected area
57 Rice; Palay (Oryza sativa L.) Graminiaceae/Poaceae Pagai 1 0.03 Boils; Mumps Grain E Rice, boiled, drained and mashed, is made into a paste or moulded into balls. Apply in the affected area
58 Tobacco;Tabaco (Nicotiana tabacum L.) Solanaceae Tabako 1 0.03 Constipation Lf E Use as suppository
59 Betel leaf pepper; Ikmo (Piper betle L.) Piperaceae Gaued 10 0.25 Cough Lf E Rubbed fresh or heated leaves with coconut oil then heat for 3–5 s  before apply chest and back
60 Chinese orange; Calamansi (Citrus microcarpa Bunge) Rutaceae Kalamansi 15 0.38 Dry cough and colds Fr I Roast partly and squeeze. Drink the juice
61 Herba Buena (Mentha arvensis L.
Lamiaceae Yerba buena 1 0.08 Body pain Lf E Apply crushed leaves on the temple, nape, back, arms, and legs. Cover   the   patient  with
blanket to induce sweating.
I Drink crushed leaves diluted  by water
2 Stomach
62 Seed- under-leaf; Sampa- sampaluka n (Phyllanthu s niruri L.) Euphorbiaceae Talta-likud 3 0.18 Abdominal pain Cough Whole Plant Lf I Drink decoction
4 I Drink extract/juice from crushed leaves
63 Wing stem grass; Sambong- gala; (Pterocaulon redolens (Forst: f.) F.-Vill Asteraceae Subusob; Subusob- a-balang 5 0.88 Fever; headache; flu Difficulty of urination Cough Lf E Chopped and boiled leaves for cold or hot bath sponges
15 Lf I Drink decoction I
64 Areca nut palm; Bunga (Areca catechu L.) Arecaceae Boa/mama 5 0.38 Intestinal worms Strengthen teeth Fr; Sd Fr; Sd E Chewed and kept in mouth (betel chew)
65 Rosewood; Narra (Pterocarpu s indicus Willd.) Fabaceae/Leguminoseae Narra 1 0.03 Kidney stone Heartw ood I Drink decoction thrice a day
66 Painted nettle; Mayana (Plectranthus scutellarioides (L.) R. Br.) Labiatae/Lamiaceae Mayana 1 0.18 Sprain; cuts and wounds and bruises Lf E  Pound  until become soft and
6 juicy, apply directly or topically
67 Weeping fig; Balete (Ficus benjamina L.) Moraceae Balete 2 0.1 New delivered mother Br; Lf E Pounded and extracted juice from fresh leaves or decoction of bark, and  use as shampoo for newly delivered mother Decoction  as a hot compress
2 Hematoma; muscle pain Br
68 Sweet elder; Sauko (Sambucus javanica Blume) Caprofoliaceae Galamat 2 0.05 Cuts and wounds Lf E Rub on crushed leaves
69 Niyog (Cocos nucifera L.) Palmae/ Arecaceae Niyog 16 0.55 Difficulty of urination Intestinal Worm Scabies; skin
eruptions Diarrhea
Fr I Drink buko juice
3 I Eat the coconut meat
1 E Apply coconut oil directly
1 I  Burn the coconut husk to ashes; dilute the ashes with water and drink.
1 Goiter Fr E Rub the ashes on the throat area. Fastened.
70 Black plum; Duhat (Syzygium cumini L. Skeels) Myrtaceae Lomboy/longboi 10 0.48 Sore throat; tonsillitis Diarrhea Bk I Drink decoction
9 I Drink decoction
71 Heavenly elixir; Makabuhay (Tinospora crispa (L.)
Hookf & Thorns)
Menispermaceae Makabuhay 2 0.15 Diarrhea Skin eruptions Cough Intestinal worms St I Drink decoction
1 Rt E Apply extract
2 St  I Drink decoction
1 Rt  I Drink decoction
72 Maiden wort; damong- maria (Artemisia vulgaris L.) Asteraceae Erbaka 5 0.4 Menstruation Cough Headache Skin eruptions Lf I Drink juice/extract
5 I Drink juice/extract
5 E Apply juice/extract on forehead
1  E Apply juice/extract
73 Deadly nightshade; Kamatis- kamatisan; Lubi-lubi (Solanum nigrum L.) Solanaceae Mala- kamatis 1 0.03 Toothache Sd E Burn the seeds and apply on affected throat.
74 White silk cotton tree; Balios (Ceiba pentandra L.) Bombaceae Kapas sanglai 6 0.18 Diarrhea Toothache Lf, St, Bk I Drink decoction.
I Drink decoction
75 Sarcandra glabra (Thunb.) Nakai Chloranthaceae Gipas/Gap as 3 0.3 Detoxification Diarrhea Cuts and wounds Lf I Drink decoction
6 I Drink decoction
3  E Apply crushed leaves  on wounds
76 Lipstick plant; Achoete (Bixa orellana L.) Bixaceae Atsuete 1 0.03 Cough Lf E Rubbed fresh or heated leaves with coconut oil then heat for 3–5 s  before apply chest and back
77 Common horsetail; buntot- buntotng kabayao (Equisetum ramossisimum (Roth.) Alston) Equisetaceae Putputod 10 0.28 UTI; Kidney disease Cough Lf; St Lf I Drink decoction thrice a day
1 I Drink decoction
78 Saging (Musa paradisiaca L.) Musacaeae Saba 1 0.03 Fever; headache Lf E Apply young leaves on a forehead with oil.
79 Chesa; Egg fruit tree; Tiesa (Pouteria campechiana (HBK)
Sapotaceae Tiesa 1 0.03 Diarrhea Lf I Drink decoction
80 White calachue; Temple flower; Kalachuchi (Plumeria acuminata L.) Apocynaceae Kalanuche 7 0.18 Skin eruption Tk E Apply sap from trunks with few drops of oil
81 Mango; Mangga (Mangifera indica L.) Anacardiaceae Mangga 1 0.03 Fever Lf I Drink decoction thrice a day.
83 Jackfruit; Langka (Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.) Moraceae Langka 1 0.03 Diarrhea Bk I Drink decoction thrice a day
84 Aaron’s rod (Solidago virgaurea L.) Compositae Tantanduk 5 0.13 bladder stones, throat Fw; Lf I Decoction of leaves and/or flowers used as tea.
swelling and pain, tonsillitis, cough, cold, sprains, bruised
85 Rosas de Japon; Chrysanthe mum; Mansanilla (Chrysanth emum indicum L.) Asteraceae Mansanilla 4 0.15 Diarrhea; bloated stomach/flatu lence Lf Lf E Apply heated leaves on a stomach
1 Boils E Apply decoction
86 Gali nut; Apunga; Komintana (Myrobalanus chebula Gaertn.) Combretaceae Bangles 1 0.03 Diarrhea; abdominal pain Bk, Rt I Drink decoction
87 Chayote; Vegetable pear; Sayote (Sechium edule (Jacq.) Sw.) Cucurbitaceae Sayote 1 0.03 Hypertension Fr I Eat cooked fruit as vegetable
88 Arabian coffee; kape (Coffea arabica L.) Rubiaceae Kape
1 0.05 Fever Sd I Drink brewed coffee
1 Diarrhea (beans)
89 Hyacinth
lablab L.)
Fabaceae Parda 0.13 Fever
Cuts and
Inflamed ear
Sd I Drink decoction.
E Apply decoction
St E Apply extract/juice
90 Pinya
(L.) Merr.)
Bromeliaceae Pinya 1 0.08 Detoxification Fr I Drink juice/extract
1 Fever Lf I Drink decoction
1 Constipation Fr,  Lf I Eat fruits. Drink decoction of leaves
91 Comfrey; Komprey (Symphytum officinale L.) Boraginaceae Camprey 1 0.08 Diarrhea Cuts and wounds Lf I Drink decoction
2 E Apply extract/juice on affected area
92 Atchibar 1 0.05 Dysmenorrhea Lf E Apply crushed leaves
1 Boils Lf E  Apply  extract/juice  on
affected area
93 Penga-
1 0.03 Cough Rt E Rubbed fresh or heated
leaves   with   coconut oil
then heat for 3–5 s
before  apply  chest   and
94 Cacahuati (Theobrama cacao L.) Malvaceae Cacao/kak aw 7 0.25 Fever Sd E Apply pounded seeds on forehead
3 Skin eruptions Sd E Apply pounded seeds on affected area
95 Wild teas; Tsaang- gubat (Ehretia microphylla Lam.) Boraginaceae Itsa/Icha- ti-bakir 6 0.15 Abdominal pain Lf I Drink decoction
96 Madre de cacao (Gliricidia sepium (Jacq.) Kunth) Senna spectabilis (DC.) Irwin and Barneby Fabaceae Madre de cacao/kak awate 8 0.28 Scabies Lf Lf E Apply extract/juice on affected area
3 Rheumatism
97 Soap pad; Acacia Acacia concinna ((Wllld) Leguminosae Acacia 1 0.03 Bloody diarrhea Bk I Drink decoction
98 Carrot (Daucus carota L. ssp sativus (Hoffm) Arcang. Apiaceae Carrot 1 0.03 High blood pressure Rt (special ized) I Eat as raw vegetable
99 Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis Mill.) Aloe vera/Sabil a 5 0.25 Alopecia Sp E Apply sap directly on the scalp. Let it stay for 5 mins and rinse.
5 Skin eruptions; cuts and wounds Lf E Apply crushed leaves
100 Loly fruit; santol (Sandoricum koetjape Merr.) Meliaceae Santol 2 0.38 Fever Fr I Eat fresh fruits
3 Diarrhea Bk I Drink decoction
10 Embalming Bk  E Bark placed in the casket
101 Pamienta (Piper nigrum L.) Piperaceae Paminta 2 0.05 Cough Lf E Rubbed fresh or steamed leaves with coconut oil then heat for 3–5 s before apply chest and back
102 Gumbo; lady’s fingers; okra (Abelmosch us esculentus (Linn.) Moench.) Malvaceae Okra 1 0.05 Hypertension Fr I Eat cooked fruits as vegetables. Drink juice/extract
1 Constipation I Eat raw fruits 1 h before and after meals.
103 Sugar apple; Atis (Annona squamosa L.) Annonaceae Atis 2 0.08 Skin eruptions; scabies Lf E Apply decoction while still lukewarm
1 Fever Lf E Apply on head as cold compress
104 Rose balsam; kamantigi (Impatiens balsamina L.) Balsaminaceae Kamantigi 2 0.05 Athlete’s foot Fw E Rub extract
105 Stink grass; lantana; Kantutay (Lantana camara L.) Verbenaceae Bangbagsit 2 0.05 Mumps Lf E Apply crushed leaves
106 Alugbate (Basella alba L.) Basellaceae Alugbati 1 0.03 Boils Lf E Apply extract/juice directly on affected area
107 Jute; Saluyot (Corchorus olitorius) Tiliaceae Saluyot 1 0.05 Kidney stones Rt I Drink decoction
1 Constipation Lf I Eat cooked leaves as vegetables.
108 Sweet potato; Kamote
(Ipomoea batatas (L.) Poir.var. edulis (Thunb.)Ku ntze)
Convolulaceae Kamote 5 0.13 Anemia Lf I Eat tops as vegetable
109 Panama Cherry; Mansanitas (Muntingia calabura L.) Elaeocarpaceae Mansanitas/Aratiles 8 0.2 Diarrhea Br I Drink decoction thrice a day

Table 2: Medicinal plants used by indigenous peoples of Santol, La Union and Use Value (UV).

The Department of Health (DOH) has recommended Sampung Halamang Gamot in its traditional health maintenance program namely Blumea balsamifera, Cassia alata, Psidium guajava, Allium sativum, Momordica charantia, Vitex negundo, Mentha sp., Peperomia pellucida, Quisqualis indica and Carmona retusa. The pharmacological effects of these plants have been clinically proven to be significant. Of these ten medicinal plants recommended by the DOH, the first eight species mentioned were reported in this survey. The utilization of these plants is higher than for any of other plants.

3.4 Collection sites

Medicinal plants are collected in the wild by individuals or their family members. Five percent of medicinal plants used were cultivated for medicinal purposes, and 15% were cultivated as vegetables, with 80% found growing wild in fields, backyards, or forests. Most plants could be easily found near homes, reflecting that the current study area is rich in natural resources allowing for the collection, rather than cultivation, of medicinal plants. However, in the future, to stem the loss of knowledge regarding medicinal plants and prevents the eradication of these resources, it is necessary to consider intentional cultivation of these useful plants. One must consider that the medicinal properties of plants, as well as the secondary metabolites produced under stress and competition, are not always expressed in fastgrowing monocultures. Rather, higher levels of active compounds may be present in wild populations where plants grow more slowly [2,19]. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct further investigation into the components of medicinal plants and to conduct chemical analyses.

3.5 Plant part used

All parts of various plant species are used against a variety of diseases. The most frequently used part is the leaves (55%), followed by bark (15%), stems (10%), fruits (5%) and sap or juice (5%). The utilization of the underground organs, both roots and rhizomes (5%) were also observed. The fact that leaves are the most frequently used part corresponds to similar results reported in many other ethnomedicinal studies in Asia [2,20]. It was also observed that residents have been using leaves to identify medicinal plants. Additionally, leaves are the main photosynthetic organs in plants, and photosynthates are translocated to other parts, such as the roots, bark, fruits and seeds. These can act as toxins for protection against predators and some are of medicinal value to humans.

3.6 Preparation and administration

The main method of preparation was use of the intact plants (31%), followed by pounding or crushing (21%), decoction (20%), heating (15%), boiling (6%) and steaming (4%), while burning and drying represented the least used preparation methods. In other words, 52% of the plants were used fresh and 48% were heated somehow. Both internal and external methods of administration were used to cure ailments. External application is safer because external application results in indirect yet immediate local effects on the area and allows for easier regulation of dosages depending on the concentrations of beneficial or toxic compounds.

Sap/juice from crushed leaves has been used for cuts and wounds, and large, thick leaves have been used for hot or cold compress to relieved pain, headache, rheumatoid arthritis or fever. The leaves are sometimes pretreated by applying coconut oil before application to the afflicted area to facilitate adhesion of the leaves to the affected area.

3.7 Use value

UVs, representing the relative importance of plants, were high for Vitex negundo (1.00), Mimosa pudica L. (1.00), Psidium guajava L. (1.00), Moringa oleifera Lam. (0.88), Blumea balsamifera (L.) DC. (0.88), and Hyptis suaveolens Poir. (0.75). These were the most frequently used plant species for each ailment category: Vitex negundo for diseases of the respiratory system, Mimosa pudica L. and Blumea balsamifera (L.) DC. for diseases of the genitourinary system, Psidium guajava L. and Hyptis suaveolens Poir for diseases of the digestive system and injury of external causes and Moringa oleifera Lam. for endocrine, nutritional and metabolic diseases.

3.8 Informant consensus factor

ICFs were calculated using the reports in each of the 13 categories. The results ranged from 0.63 to 1.00 (Table 1). The highest ICF value, 1.00, indicates that people use a particular plant consistently in that category. However, the number of use-reports (Nur) in these high-ICF categories was extremely low. After excluding categories with a Nur of less than eight (0.5%), the highest remaining ICF category was for diseases of the genitourinary system (0.85), diseases of the respiratory system (0.82) and endocrine, nutritional and metabolic problems (0.80). The most frequently used plant species in each category were those plants with high UV. Blumea balsamifera (L.) DC. for genitourinary system diseases, Vitex negundo and Coleus amboinicus for respiratory illnesses and Moringa oleifera Lam. for endocrine, nutritional and metabolic problems. The low ICF for some plant species may be explained by the availability of easily accessible pharmaceuticals that provide alter- natives to traditional medicine. These pharmaceuticals may reduce the use of some traditional remedies

The ailments with the highest ICF values were Urinary Tract Infection and kidney stones predominantly considered by difficulty of urination. The following plants were utilized for the said ailments: Imperata cylindrica (L.) P. Beauv, Lagerstroemia speciosa (L.) Pers., Blumea balsamifera (L.) DC.), Vitex negundo, Persea americana Mill., Zea mays L.) and Cocos nucifera L.). Leaves of such plants were commonly utilized, boiled in water for 30 minutes and decoctions were taken internally for thrice a day.

3.9 Fidelity level

FLs for plant species for specific diseases varied widely, ranging between 6.02% to 100%. Most of the plants with high FL values have pharmacological effects that have been proven scientifically. On the other hand, the lowest FL indicated less-preferred species for treating specific ailments. In contrast, these plants have been widely used for several diseases. High ICFs and FLs for specific species suggest that the plants might contain valuable phytochemical compounds. These traditional medicines, handed down despite their traditional back- ground, have high ICFs and FLs because of their efficacy and safety.

4. Conclusion

This study confirms that plants are still a major source of medicine for the local people in Santol, La Union. Modern healthcare systems in this area are not adequate, and some parts of the population have limited means to buy modern medicine. Thus, traditional medicine remains the most popular solution to health issues. Most of the recorded plants grew in the wild. Notably, the uses of some plants have not been reported in the literature. The results also reveal the urgency of collecting ethnopharmacological data because knowledge of medicinal plants is vanishing. Residents use several plants against conditions such as hypertension and urinary disorders. This study suggests that detailed pharmacological evaluation of these plants is required because the pharmacological basis for the activity of some plants has not been determined. Further research can encourage the continued use of medicinal plants.


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