Pito-Pito Herbal Tea: Local Tonic Cure-All?

I've been hearing of the effectiveness of concocting 7 herbal ingredients to treat ailments with since I was a kid. As far as I can remember, it was popularized by Ernie Baron, then among the renown herbalists promoting herbs and plants in the Philippines and Asia, and also a popular radio health commentator for the masses.

Pito-Pito, or Seven-Seven literally, is a blend of any seven herbal ingredients and may vary from seeds, leaves, roots, to tree barks or any plant or tree part. It is often used as a poultice or decoction plus other folkloric alternative applications for fever, cough, colds, headache, asthma, migraine, stomach pains and troubles, diarrhea, and others.

Different herbal contents are used, usually those easily available in a locality and the nature by which it is used. Seven this and seven that. For instance, 7 leaves of alagaw, 7 leaves of native guava (bayabas), 7 leaves of banaba, 7 leaves of pandan, and 7 of mangga. These are boiled together in water for 30 minutes, with perhaps a teaspoon or half of silantro and anis. The brew is strained and used as a herbal tea treatment.

Other concocters smoke the leaves and dry them (others just plain dry them) and later pound them to tiny bits, making them fit for tea bags and applied as that--commercial tea drink.

Why Seven?

Why 7 leaves of this and that? Well, accordingly, the number 7 being widely believed as a perfect number, is said to be just the right amount of anything in local herbal tradition. Some say it is God's number. Seven measures are supposed to make a herbal concoction effective and balance the formulation, making it applicable to various ailments.

Commercially, some manufacturers substitute some native ingredients with herbal medicinal contents like Gotu-Kola or Centella Asiatica. Others use pineapple and kaimito (star apple) leaves for wild-crafted usage. Other producers, wanting to be unique for better marketing purposes, add more ingredients for a Siyam-Siyam (Nine-Nine) herbal tea, making the stronger potency more appealing to people who want to get well sooner and for those who have more serious diseases.

How effective are these concocted teas? No formal clinical studies are yet available, but it is a popular notion among herbalists how leaves, seeds, roots and stems of certain plants, when boiled together, produce reactions that form herbal tonics ideal for cures. And a lot of testimonies on their healing effects abound locally.

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