Health Life

Fruits that heal (Part 3)

Fruits are a feast to behold! They are nature’s most abundant and versatile creation. They come in a variety of colors, sizes, shapes, scents and flavors. Fruits lift the spirit, whet the appetite and provide the body with natural energy. They are thirst quenchers when eaten fresh and raw. They are the best daily guilt-free snacks and desserts.
Ever wonder why people who eat a heavy dose of fruits, together with vegetables, nuts and whole grains, live longer and better? Aside from the essential life-giving vitamins, minerals, sugars, trace elements and enzymes they offer, fruits contain bountiful phytochemicals. Phyto is derived from the Greek word meaning plant. The phytochemicals in fruits are substances with healing properties. Therefore, fruits not only provide good nutrition, but also excellent protection from illnesses and disease.
Presently in vogue are the terms nutraceuticals and pharmafoods, which merge nutrients and pharmaceuticals to describe a food’s ability to act as both a nutrient and medicine. In ancient times, fruits were regarded as magical and divine. Their nectar and ambrosia formed the basis of the food of the gods. Whatever terms are attributed to fruits, they are definitely food and medicine for the soul, heart, body and mind. Make fruits a daily part of our lives. So, here is the last part of the listing of Philippine fruits that heal.

Saging (Musa sapientum L.). Bananas are extremely nutritious. They are rich in potassium, glucose, fructose, sucrose, starch, protein, riboflavin, niacin and dietary fiber. They are good sources of vitamins A and C and contain iron, calcium, phosphorus and carbohydrates. Bananas have a high grade protein that includes three of the essential amino acids. They have a high energy value, with 99 kilocalories per 100 grams of fruit. Research showed that the fruit contains serotonin (which has an anti-stress factor), a sedative property and an effect on migraine. It also contains the phytochemical fructooligosaccharide, which is a sweet tasting nutritional fiber that appears to be useful in maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria in the colon. Medicinally, the ripe fruit is eaten for diarrhea and dysentery. The unripe fruit is sliced into pieces, sun-dried or powdered. To ensure the removal of any moisture, the powdered fruit is re-sun-dried or oven baked, then stored in amber colored bottles. Mix three tablespoonful of the powdered fruit in a glass of water for diarrhea and hyperacidity. Other parts of the banana plant are also useful for traditional healing. The juice of the roots, together with the mucilage, can be used to stop bleeding. It is also used for fever. The freshly cut trunks are used to wrap a patient with high fever. The leaves are applied to relieve headache and also as a cool dressing for inflamed and blistered skin. The flower is eaten to promote menstruation. The sap of the flower head is applied on the forehead for headaches.
Tsiko (Achras zapota L.). The fruit, also known as sapodilla, is fairly rich in vitamin B and carbohydrates. Research studies showed that the bark contains tannin, saponin and sapotin. The seed contains sapotin, saponin, achrasaponin, sapotinine, alkaloid and fixed oil. Traditionally, the fruit is eaten to control dysentery, relieve fever, and prevent diseases of the liver and gall bladder. A decoction of the bark is used as a wash for wounds and skin ulcers, as gargle for sore throat, as nasal lavage in rhinitis, and as a wash for the swelling of the middle and outer ear, as well as as a vaginal wash, and enema for diarrhea and dysentery, and for relieving abdominal pain and fever. A decoction of the seed is used to increase the amount of urine.

By Jaime Z. Galvez Tan, MD MPH

The author is the chairman and founder of Health Futures Foundation, Inc., a civil society organization working to create communities of wellness in marginalized communities nationwide.