My grandmother has this fun and weird collection of health ideas that I don’t know if some of them are true, but I’m sure most of them are just local nonsense. Perhaps it is due to information deficiency and belief in albularyo or local healer.
These health beliefs always remind me of what it was like to grow up in the province, fascinated and horrified by the adult world. Right now, it’s really comforting that the things I used to believe weren’t so strange after all because I found out that somehow most provinces in the Philippines, and even other countries, also have their own health legends or the themselves. And the most common: sleeping with wet hair can cause blindness.
Moreover, even the communities of Metro Manila and other cities, especially poor urban communities, still believe in these health legends. Although city people have access to electricity and the media, much of their health information can be misleading, inaccurate, or distorted.
These beliefs are really fun, so I take some time to find little facts about them by doing a little research to satisfy my curiosity. I am not a medical expert and my notes are still subject to medical scrutiny.
These are some of the popular beliefs about health in our city in Mindoro and my personal notes:
1. Sleeping with wet hair can cause blindness – In our province it is said that if you sleep with wet hair, first you will be cross-eyed and then you will go blind. That is, if you wake up in the middle of your dream with wet hair, only your eyes will cross, and you know what, you are considered lucky, because if you sleep longer you will be blind.
* My Notes: According to John C Hagan III, MD, an ophthalmologist affiliated with the American Academy of Ophthalmology, that belief is totally false. There is no connection between wet hair and eye problems. Why would you want to sleep with wet hair anyway?
2. Frog urine causes warts or kulugo – Kokak Kokak! No way. I love playing with frogs as a kid, what I get is bruises from chasing them, not warts.
* My notes: The cause of the typical wart is not a frog. It occurs because the wart virus encounters a body with a weak immune system.
3. Eating too many mangoes can cause bungang-araw or heat rash. I’m not really sure about this. What I personally experience is that my lips and throat itched when I accidentally ate a portion of that mango spike fruit peel. Even though mango can be allergic to some people, it is still a healthy fruit and I can’t help but eat this fruit, especially those big overripe kinalabaw mangoes, yum yummy.
* My notes: Well, the problem is that the sap of the mango tree and the peel of the fruit contain urushiol, the same chemical that the poison ivy plant produces. Some people experience skin rashes, especially on the lips, when they come in contact with the sap or skin of the fruit. Well, you can’t be so hungry that you want to eat even mango skin, that’s reserved for the backyard pigs you know.
4. Eating a grilled lizard can cure asthma: the usual practice is to grill a lizard until it turns charcoal black, grind it and mix it with a little juice or coffee so that you cannot taste the real taste of a lizard . Others simply add a whole lizard when cooking rice. Yaikks!
* My Notes: Some experts say that asthma cannot be cured. Of course, eating lizard is not based on a prescription or medical advice, but at least they believe in alternative medicine. However, we don’t really know its medicinal effects. In the meantime, I suggest that we should require all lizards to label them with “No approved therapeutic claims.” – until a proper study is carried out. Any objections, Godzilla?
5. Washing your hands after ironing clothes can cause amazement: Pasma refers to a popular illness unique to Filipino culture with symptoms of tremors in the hands, sweaty palms, numbness and pain attributed to an interaction of “init” (heat ) and “lamig” (cold).
A rather amusing variation on this belief is the idea that condoms cause “awe” supposedly because the rubber aggravates body heat. Ha ha ha, Maybe a helpless Catholic priest, who is fighting contraceptives and the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, started this rumor. LOL
* My notes: Pasma is not described in medical textbooks, is not discussed in medical schools, and is not generally recognized by contemporary medical science.
6. A woman who eats twin bananas will give birth to twins – Eating twin fruits like double almonds and bananas was thought to increase the chance of having twins.
* My notes: None – I don’t bother googling, because obviously this is ridiculous. Just ask your local manghihilot to explain this to you in detail or maybe try visiting the psychic readers in Quiapo for more information.
7. Brushing your hair 100 times before bed can make it softer and shinier. This is the old tale, which states that brushing your hair a lot, 100 to 200 strokes a day, is good for your hair.
* My Notes: According to the basic hair care article posted on the Mercury Drug website, we have about 100,000 strands of hair on our heads. Each grows from two to six years. It is normal to lose between 50 and 100 strands of hair a day. When the hair falls out, it is finally replaced by a new strand.
* Her advice: Don’t put pressure on your hair strands by brushing it too hard or too hard. The story of brushing your hair 100 times a night is not true. Brushing your hair excessively simply makes it brittle and can cause your scalp to overproduce oil.
8. Eating ants can improve singing – So finally, Celine Dion and Charice Pempemco’s secret has finally come to light. Are the sauteed ants behind your angelic voice? Well, if it’s true, Willie Revillame and Paris Hilton should have done it two decades ago so they didn’t have to be a struggling singer.
* My Notes: Perhaps an old lunatic singer, during one of her epileptic seizures, started sharing her secret about eating ants to improve her voice, her die-hard fans listened to her, and hence, the legend goes. AZ and Princess Bala won’t love this.
9. Drinking seawater can cure coughs / colds – In our province of Mindoro, every time we have a cough, my mother would let us swim in the sea early in the morning and encouraged us to take a drink of seawater to cure our cough. Of course, the sea water in our little town is really clear and clean, unlike the toxic Manila yukkiiee bay.
But wait, based on my fact finding spree, this one, which I thought was also an absurd belief, surprisingly has some truth to it. Well, at least I found out that not all of the beliefs on my list are simply absurd.
* My notes: according to a Czech investigation [Efficacy of Isotonic Nasal Wash (Seawater) in the Treatment and Prevention of Rhinitis in Children], seawater spray cures children’s colds. It may be that the salt water has a simple mechanical effect of removing mucus, or it could be that trace elements in the water play a larger role, although the exact reason why such a solution works is unknown, said Dr. Ivo Slapak. . and colleagues from the Brno University Hospital in the Czech Republic.
I’m sure you know some health myths too, like jumping on New Years Eve to get taller.