Gawed for cough

By Penelope A. Domogo, MD

“ We have a whole gamut of medicinal plants for cough – lagundi, sambong, oregano, lantana thyme, ginger, turmeric and gawed. ”

Yup, gawed is not only for momma, it is good for cough! It is my most recent amazing discovery in the field of herbal medicine so I am so excited to share it with you, dear reader. That is, if you haven’t discovered it yet. I have been blabbering about it everywhere I went and my iFontok friends would say “Adwani yangkhay ay ammom? Adwani ka lang gamin ay naapuwan”.(It’s only now that you know? It’s only now that you have a grandchild, that’s why.) It seems everyone in the village knows about gawed except me! True, I discovered it because my 6-months-old grandson had a cough that was disturbing his sleep. And it was disturbing my sleep, too. But after some worrying moments, I didn’t hear him cough anymore. Not a single cough. Praise God! Miraculous! We all had a good night’s sleep. In the morning, I happily remarked to my daughter that baby was not coughing anymore. “Yes, his dad placed gawed on his back.” she said. Weh? Turned out that my son-in-law and his siblings grew up with gawed. His mom would place it on their chest everytime they had cough and they would get well. How wonderful!
Gawed is ‘ikmo” or “buyo” in Tagalog. English – betel, piper betle, betel leaf pepper. It grows well in any place in the Philippines and in other tropical places- in Sagada, in Manila, in Lepanto, in Bauko. I wonder why it’s in almost every corner store in Mountain Province when all households can just grow it.
How do you use gawed or betel leaf? Very easy. As “tapal”. (English translation?) Pick the mature leaves. Place it on top of a pot that’s cooking or heat over open flame until it wilts. It will also emit a pleasant gawed aroma. I now love this scent. (smile) Quickly rub plain coconut oil (not necessarily virgin) on the leaf and put it over the back or chest while warm. For a baby one small leaf on the back or front is enough and more would be too much. So be careful not to overdo it. For older children, those whom I talked with placed one in front and one at the back. For me, as I have a wider back, I place two at the back, one at the right and one at the left, or one at the back and one in front. It’s very soothing. When it dries and falls off your back, then just change it with a new leaf. I have cough right now and am experimenting. And yes, it relieves my cough and loosens the phlegm, too. Thank you, loving Father!
My interest in betel leaf or gawed has led me to a lot of publications about its medicinal properties. In 2012, medical students of Manila Central University discovered components of the gawed that’s harmful to bacteria and fungi that cause diarrhea! Some people also shared that they use this gawed wrap for arthritic joints. I also read that betel leaf (BL) is an ancient medicinal herb and has for a long long time been used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese and Filipino medicine. “There are a number of research experiments on BL, where the leaf extract, fractions, and purified compounds are found to play a role in oral hygiene, and to have various properties including anti-diabetic, cardiovascular, anti-inflammatory/immunomodulatory, anti-ulcer, hepato-protective, anti-infective, etc. Patients were also awarded with some of the biological activities like anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and immunomodulatory associated with the leaf extracts and purified compounds….. Betel leaves are used as a stimulant, an antiseptic, and a breath-freshener….” (Rajendra Toprani and Daxesh Patel, July-Sept 2013 South Asian Journal of Cancer).
Wow, so many medicinal uses! If you have read this column the other week on “Herbal Medicine”, we stated there that medicinal plants seem to be cure-all because we use the whole plant or whole leaf or bark or root. Plants contain a lot of compounds perfectly mixed together by our loving Creator (not by the factory), in the perfect proportions that we need. These compounds can be extracted but common sense and practical sense will tell us to use them in their original state. I’ve said it before and I say it again. God, whom we profess loves us so much, would also give what we need abundantly and freely- accessible, available anytime, all the time. So do we have to extract the active ingredient before we can use it?
We have a whole gamut of medicinal plants for cough – lagundi, sambong, oregano, lantana thyme, ginger, turmeric and gawed. I am sure a lot of people have experimented with other plants, as well. Please share your stories through this paper. Cough is such a common condition and at this time of the year, the cough bug is all over. Hospitals are crowded with coughing patients.
Plus you need to drink a lot of water. It is also important also to refrain from all those mucus-producing foods like milk, sugar, bread and other foods containing these. The usual anti-cough and cold medicines concocted by the factory are not effective and some may just dry up your mucus or have other side effects.**

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