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M. Sapientum

The fruit produced by the various varieties of the banana plant constitutes one of the most wholesome and delicious of foods

foods, appreciated by natives and Europeans alike. According to Boussingaul its nutritive value is greater than that of the potato and it may be used constantly without ill effects.

Bananas contain a large percentage of sugar and mucilage. In India they dry them in the sun, as figs and grapes are treated in other countries and thus preserve them for long voyages by sea or land; eaten in conjunction with animal food they are a strong preventive of scurvy. If eaten when thoroughly ripe they have a laxative effect.

The young and tender leaves are used in the Philippines as a protective dressing for ulcers, dermatitis, burns and cantharidal or other artificial blisters. Before applying to the affected surface the leaf is heated to make it more flexible and coated with a thin layer of cocoanut oil or other fatty substance.

In the dispensaries of India they also use the leaves in this way, thus protecting and at the same time maintaining the moisture of the part. Dr. Waring recommends the practice and Dr. Van Someren follows it in the application of water dressings, having substituted banana leaves for gutta-percha.

In Mauritius the fruit is used for dysentery, and the flowers, together with an equal quantity of those of Spilanthes Acmella, are made into a decoction and prescribed for dropsy.

BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION.—The banana plant with its huge waving leaves and succulent stem is universally familiar. The flower stalk rises through the center developing a drooping spike, the flowers in short rows in the axils of its large purplish bracts. According to Blanco there are 57 varieties of this plant in the Philippines, the following being the most common edible varieties: bug̃ulag̃, lakatan, letondag̃, obispo, higo, morado, butuan, bentikohol, sabá, tampuhig̃.

HABITAT.—Common everywhere in the islands.


Ginger Family.

Zingiber officinale, L. (Amomum zingiber, L. and Blanco.) NOM. VULG.—Ajengibre, Jengibre, Sp.; Luya, Tag.; Laya, Bic.; Ginger, Eng.

USES.—The rhizome is used principally as a condiment in the Philippines. Its flavor is extremely agreeable, much appreciated in Europe by the English who are the greatest consumers of the condiment. In the Philippines a decoction is made of ginger and brown sugar, called tahu by the Chinese who drink it regularly as we do coffee in the early hours of the morning. It is an excellent drink, aromatic, tonic, stomachic and stimulant, and would probably be highly useful as well as economical as a part of the ration of European and native troops in the field. Hot tahú or tahu is an active diuretic; and during the last epidemic of cholera in Manila some physicians used it with very satisfactory results.

Ginger is a good carminative and is official in the pharmacopoeias of Europe, America and India. It is used with good effect in flatulent colic, atonic diseases of the intestines so common in the Philippines and in chronic rheumatism.

The tincture is given in doses of 2–4 grams. The official infusion 30–60 grams.

The rhizome contains a volatile oil1 (25 per cent.), a pale yellow liquid, specific gravity 0.878, the odor like that of the rhizome but lacking its strong and piquant taste. Its reaction is not acid; it dissolves slowly in alcohol. The burning taste is due to a resin that produces protocatechuic acid when melted with potassa.

BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION.—The only part employed is the rhizome, well known all over the islands and found in all their pharmacies and shops.

Several stems rise 2–3° directly from the peculiar, branched rhizome; longlanceolate, acuminate, entire, glabrous, alternate leaves diverge stiffly from the sides of the stem; petiole proper very short, its broader extension ensheathing the stem; general appearance of a single stem is much like that of the Solomon’s seal so familiar in the U. S.

Reference book: The Medicinal Plants of the Philippines

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