It’s the new much-hyped five-finger plant. No, it is not the mildly psychedelic cannabis that the hippies were raving about several decades ago. Though it does not possess the psychoactive properties of its five-finger weed brethren, this plant still has huge potential. Herbalists tout it as the new wonder herb, a top tier all-around drug.
Vitex negundo, commonly known in the Philippines as lagundi, is a tropical tree-shrub that can reach up to 5 m in height. It has long been part of Filipino folk medicine. Lagundi is an all-around medicinal plant.
The roots of lagundi are used to cure dyspepsia, worms, boils, and rheumatism. Its flowers are very effective in treating stomach ache and fever. On the other hand, the seeds of Vitex negundo have undergone laboratory testing and have been discovered to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Yet the most potent part of this wonder shrub is its leaves. Like the roots, the leaves can also cure dyspepsia, boils, and rheumatism. The leaves are also used to treat diarrhea and fever. However, lagundi leaves are most effective in treating broncho-pulmonary disorders, particularly cough, colds, and flu.
Lagundi leaves contain Chrysosplenol D, which is a potent antihistamine compound. Histamine is a protein released by the body when it detects allergic reactions or infections. When histamines flood into the nose, dilation and leakage of nasal blood vessels occur. Histamines also stimulate sneezing and coughing and is the main reason why the nose becomes runny or stopped up if a person is suffering from flu. Antihistamine compounds, like Chrysosplenol D, work by preventing activation and excessive release of histamines. The absence of histamines generally results to alleviation of cold symptoms.
Most cold remedies out in the market are effective in preventing histamines from flooding into the nasal cavity. But most of these are made from synthetic compounds and may have possible harmful effects. Last year, the FDA reported about more than 100 people suffered from temporary loss of smell after using Zicam cold meds. There is even one unfortunate victim who have lost her sense of smell permanently, which is a pity because you can’t taste your food when you don’t have the ability to detect scent.
Natural cold medicines are indeed safer compared to synthetic ones. Lagundi is arguably one of the most potent natural anti-cold medicines. Its fresh or dried leaves can be boiled. Half a cup of the concoction a day would suffice to treat colds. Leaves can be boiled en masse so that the concoction can be stored and refrigerated for future consumption.
However, availability of lagundi leaves may not be easy for those who are not living in the tropics. Fortunately, many Philippine-based pharmaceutical companies are now manufacturing 100% natural lagundi capsule or syrup. Lagundi capsule may cost P3.50 to P7.50 while a bottled lagundi syrup can be purchased for P80 (80 ml) or P115 (120 ml).
It’s a really cheap cold remedy. The main reason why the price of lagundi is low is that cultivating the shrub does not demand a lot of expenses. So pharmaceutical companies can purchase lagundi leaves at a low cost and sell their finished products at a low and very affordable rate.
The stint of lagundi as a commercial cold remedy may still be in its infancy. However, its future as a top-tier natural cold remedy is promising. Cheap yet very effective: these two qualities may eventually help people around the world realize how wonderful lagundi is.