Sambong with a scientific name of Blumea balsamifera is a medicinal plant that grows abundantly in the Philippines from Northern Luzon to Palawan and down south in Mindanao. It is commonly found in grasslands with altitudes that range from medium to high. Sambong is a weed thus it does not need extensive care for it to grow.
The botany of the shrub is described to have half woody and strongly aromatic and with soft hair. The shrub grows to about 1 to 4 meters high with stems that grow to about 2.5cm in diameter. Accordingly, the leaves are simple, alternate and broadly elongated that are about 7 to 20 centimeters long with toothed margins.
Long before the introduction of modern medicine in the rural areas, the leaves of the sambong shrub is prepared and drank as tea and thus was discovered to have expectorant as well as antispasmodic and anti diarrheal properties. The leaves were also often used as antiseptic for minor cuts and wounds. Today, together with the advances in modern medicine the sambong shrub is an alternative medicine in treating hypertension and rheumatism, colds and fever, dysentery, stomach pains and sore throat. Sambong also has diuretic properties as such it is also a cheap medicine that can help treat kidney disorders. This mighty shrub also helps in eliminating the body of excess water and salt.
Because of its many benefits, it is one of the ten herbal medicines that is approved and promoted by the Philippine Department of Health or DOH as an alternative medicine. The National Kidney Institute of the Philippines also promotes sambong in order to delay the need of dialysis or kidney transplant.
Below are the preparations of Sambong for treatment of various ailments:
Fever- a decoction of the roots of the sambong can be taken in as tea to cure fever. One can also boil at least 2-3 leaves of the plant and use the decoction for sponge bathing to bring down the fever.
Headache- crush or pound the leaves of the sambong and apply to forehead to relieve headache. Pounded leaves can also be used as poultice to treat boils.
Colds- a decoction of the leaves can be taken in as tea as an expectorant. The sambong tea is also effective in treating upset stomach.
For daily use- since sambong contains diuretic properties, 2 teaspoons of chopped sambong leaves can be boiled with 2 glasses of water for about fifteen minutes. This can then be taken in as tea 3 to 4 times a day.