HAVE you realized how wise is the Lord for creating “all things nice and wonderful?” That’s a line from a poem I remember way back in grade school.

Wonderful! That is how I consider the plants God created from the beginning. So wonderful are the plants around us that each of them has its own purpose. This is what I contemplate upon finding my treasures of knowledge at home. What I retrieved from my files is the manual of my training some years ago, during the hype of organic farming and herbal medicine.

During that training entitled, ”Prospects and Challenges for Production, Processing, and Marketing of Philippine Medicinal Plants,” herbal medicine and natural or homeopathy were already beginning to gain momentum, through mostly the non-government organizations and private practitioners.

In fact, our main lecturer on that training was no less than the former undersecretary of the Department of Health (DOH)— Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan, who was already operating then his own pharmacy of herbal medicines.

That was the beginning of my inclusion of herbal plants that are medicinal in my own garden. There are many plants that we learned to be medicinal—21 of them actually—but I will discuss only those which are commonly known.

Number one is garlic (Allium sativum Linn), of course. You know already how it is being used by many people as medicine. It contains the very interesting element germanium, which is able to protect the human organism against carbon monoxide poisoning (like exhaust fumes), normalizes blood pressure and immune response effective at 30-150 mg. When I went to the grocery store last week, the smallest packaging of the roasted garlic costs P50 already.

Other common ones are guava, gabi, katuray, lagundi, malunggay, ginger, mongo, neem tree, papaya, sabila, sambong, takip kuhol, tsaang gubat and akapulko, among others.

The rest that do not sound familiar to many are the following: Balanoi, Kabling, Japanese Honeysuckle, Moras, Chinona and Damong Maria. Each one of these herbal crops has a cultivation manual by Dietmar Rummel of CITEM (Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions).

It was a rewarding experience for me when I was fortunately included in the training with the NGOs’ farmer-leaders and some staff of BIND (Broad Initiative for Negros Development) because it is really a useful knowledge until now. Those farmers that were my classmates in the training are making a livelihood of herbal medicine until now.

From Dr. Tan’s lecture I learned that medicinal plants are the natural living treasures of our country. Do you know that about 1,500 medicinal plants from 13,500 plant species of which 3,500 are endemic, only 120 plants have been scientifically validated for safety and efficacy, and only 10 have been promoted by the DOH and PITAHC since 1993?