Alagaw (Premna odorata) is a small hairy tree with leaves famously known for its herbal properties. Its flowers are greenish-white or nearly white while its fruits are round, fleshy and dark purple.
In the Philippines, this plant is considered to be as one of the great medicinal herbs for many years. In fact, it is one part of the Pito-Pito decoction, the mix of seven wonder herbs and seeds considered effective for increasing blood circulation and regulating cholesterol levels in the body.
According to studies, alagaw has antioxidant, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-tuberculosis, carminative, parasiticide, sudorific, and pectoral properties that make it an amazing remedy for a range of health problems.
Here are some of the known positive effects of alagaw in the human body.
- A decoction of the leaves mixed with honey and lemon juice is drunk for coughs.
- Crushed leaves applied to forehead and temples for headaches.
- Roots are chewed and the saliva swallowed for cardiac troubles.
- When the leaves are boiled in water, the liquid is used to bathe babies, and the boiled leaves are also applied externally for beriberi which is a deficiency of thiamin (vitamin B1).
- A decoction of fresh leaves used for vaginal irrigation.
- Leaf decoction has been used for tuberculosis.
- A decoction of shoots is used as a parasiticide.
- In adults, a decoction of the leaves can provide relief from gas pains. Meanwhile, children are recommended to only crush the leaves and mix with a little coconut or sesame oil and directly apply it to the abdomen.
- Infusion of leaves is carminative.
- Leaf extract can help clean wound and for fleas and ticks.
- A decoction of leaves is used against fever blisters of the lips, stomachaches, fever and colds, cough and bronchitis.
In a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, it was found that in addition to alagaw’s anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, it also has potential in cancer treatment.
Aside from its medicinal use, alagaw is also used for food. Its leaves can be used in wrapping ingredients the way a tortilla or fresh lumpia wrapper is used. It is even used in making the adobo catfish dish in some parts of the Philippines.