Sambong: An Age-Old Natural Remedy Approved By The DOH

Sambong (Blumea balsamifera) is a common medicinal plant found throughout the Philippines.  It often grows in open fields, grasslands, and waste areas, at low and medium altitudes.  It has been used as medicine for thousands of years in Southeast Asia countries, such as China, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines (1).

Some of the identified components of Sambong are lumeaenes, samboginone, and antioxidant flavonoids such as blumeatin, quercetin, rhamnetin, tamarixetin, and luteolin. Its volatile oil consists of camphor, borneol, isoborneol, terpineol, caryophyllene, guaiol, and eugenol. The plant has been found to possess a variety of biological activities such as antitumor, hepatoprotective, antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-melanogenic, platelet aggregation, wound healing, and anti-obesity properties (2).

Sambong As A Natural Remedy

Since ancient times, preparations from B. balsamifera have been used in Chinese medicine as a carminative, mild stimulant, vermifuge, and as a topical application for septic ulcers. It is one of the most common and widely used medicinal plants for a number of ailments in South-East Asia. It is used to treat bronchitis, arthritis, insomnia, and dysmenorrhoea. In the Philippines, a diuretic and kidney-stone medicine is prepared commercially from B. balsamifera. 

An infusion from the leaves is taken as a stomachic, diaphoretic expectorant, and emmenagogue, while a decoction of fresh leaves, alone or in combination with other plant preparations, used as a bath for women after childbirth and also for young children. In Vietnam, a decoction of the leaves is prescribed against influenza, cough, and dyspepsia. Inhalation of the vapour from a boiling decoction of fresh leaves is used against the same afflictions. Poultices of pounded leaves are applied to treat hemorrhoids and an alcoholic maceration serves as a liniment for rheumatism (3).

This popular herbal plant is being used in the treatment of wounds and cuts, rheumatism, stomach pains, respiratory infections, anti-diarrhea, anti-spams, colds, and coughs. It is also well-known or its diuretic properties which make it popular among people suffering from kidney problems (4).

May Help With Hypertension And Fluid Retention

When it comes to fluid retention and hypertension conditions, sambong herbal tea is used as a diuretic. The herbal tea incites the body to urinate thus removing excess body fluids and sodium. According to clinical studies, high levels of sodium in the blood is a major cause of hypertension (5).

Dissolution Of Kidney Stones

The Philippine Department of Health (DOH) has been promoting Sambong herbal tea and tablets as a diuretic and for the dissolution of kidney stones. Sambong has been recently registered in the Bureau of Foods and Drugs as medicine (5).

In a study conducted, the National Integrated Research Program on Medicinal Plants (NIRPROMP) developed an herbal drug formulation mainly composed of sambong leaves. Results showed that sambong formulation effectively reduced the size and number of kidney stones among urolithiasis patients. Also, the effects induced by sambong formulation are comparable with the effects induced by potassium citrate medication. 

Clinical studies also showed that the sambong formulation effectively increased the volume of urine excretion among patients experiencing edema. This diuretic effect of the sambong formulation is also comparable to the effects of other thiazide diuretics but without causing urinary potassium loss (6).

Usage/Intake (7)

In the Philippines, this herb with rough hairy leaves is one of the herbal medicines approved by the Department of Health (DOH) (8). It is prized for its medicinal properties. Here’s how we can use this herb as a remedy.

Infusion. The leaves are generally boiled and taken as tea. Simply gather fresh leaves and chop them into small pieces and then wash under running water thoroughly. Toss the chopped leaves into a liter of boiling water and steep for 10 minutes then let the tea cool. The soothing tea can be taken 4 times daily.

Poultice. Sambong may also be used to relieve arthritis. To prepare, crush or grind the leaves into a paste and apply directly into the affected part.

Plaster. To provide relief from fever, we need to soak the leaves in cold water, wrung out and place them between sheets of clean cloth. The cloth plaster must then be placed on the patient’s forehead or armpit to lower the body temperature and prevent convulsions.