Folk Medicine in the Philippines: A Phenomenological Study of Health-Seeking Individuals

  • Nadine Angela O. Rondilla School of Medicine, Centro Escolar University, Manila, Philippines
  • Ian Christopher N. Rocha School of Medicine, Centro Escolar University, Manila, Philippines https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8775-6876
  • Shannon Jean R. Roque School of Medicine, Centro Escolar University, Manila, Philippines
  • Ricardo Martin S. Lu School of Medicine, Centro Escolar University, Manila, Philippines
  • Nica Lois B. Apolinar School of Medicine, Centro Escolar University, Manila, Philippines
  • Alyssa A. Solaiman-Balt School of Medicine, Centro Escolar University, Manila, Philippines
  • Theorell Joshua J. Abion School of Medicine, Centro Escolar University, Manila, Philippines
  • Pauline Bianca P. Banatin School of Medicine, Centro Escolar University, Manila, Philippines
  • Carina Viktoria M. Javier School of Medicine, Centro Escolar University, Manila, Philippines
Keywords: medical anthropology, folk medicine, traditional medicine, indigenous medicine, health-seeking behavior, Philippines

Abstract

Background: Folk medicine refers to traditional healing practices anchored on cultural beliefs of body physiology and health preservation. Reflective of indigenous heritage, it fosters a better understanding of health and disease, healthcare systems, and biocultural adaptation. In the Philippines, Quiapo is a well-known site for folk medicine services, cultural diversity, religious practices, and economic activities.

Methods: This study utilized a phenomenological approach to comprehend the lived experiences of health-seeking individuals and the meaning behind their acquisition of folk medicine products. Using convenience sampling, seven participants acquiring folk medicine products in Quiapo on the day of data collection were approached and interviewed on separate instances. The collected data subsequently underwent thematic analysis.

Results: Analysis revealed three emergent themes: health-seeking behavior, sources of knowledge, and folk medicine utilization. Health-seeking behavior was linked with the participants’ purpose of going to Quiapo, reasons for utilizing folk medicine, experiences in using folk medicine, and beliefs associated with the product bought. Sources of knowledge tackled the participants’ sources of information about Quiapo and its products. Folk medicine utilization relates to the type of product bought, its perceived medicinal use, and its history of usage.

Conclusion: Folk medicine is perceived to be effective alleviating health concerns. The acquisition of such products is attributed to satisfaction from prior experience, distrust in the current healthcare system, family tradition, and intention to supplement existing medical treatment. This study provides health professionals a better understanding of patients who patronize folk medicine, subsequently aiding them in providing a holistic approach to treatment.

Author Biographies

Nadine Angela O. Rondilla, School of Medicine, Centro Escolar University, Manila, Philippines

Nadine Angela O. Rondilla is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Santo Tomas. She is currently studying Doctor of Medicine at Centro Escolar University.

Ian Christopher N. Rocha, School of Medicine, Centro Escolar University, Manila, Philippines

Ian Christopher N. Rocha is a registered nurse and licensed professional teacher. He obtained his Master of Health Social Science degree from De La Salle University, his Master in Business Administration degree from National College of Business and Arts, and his Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Associate in Health Science Education degrees from Far Eastern University. He is currently studying Doctor of Medicine at Centro Escolar University.

Shannon Jean R. Roque, School of Medicine, Centro Escolar University, Manila, Philippines

Shannon Jean R. Roque is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Biology from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (University of the City of Manila). She is currently studying Doctor of Medicine at Centro Escolar University.

Ricardo Martin S. Lu, School of Medicine, Centro Escolar University, Manila, Philippines

Ricardo Martin S. Lu is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Santo Tomas. He is currently studying Doctor of Medicine at Centro Escolar University.

Nica Lois B. Apolinar, School of Medicine, Centro Escolar University, Manila, Philippines

Nica Lois B. Apolinar is a registered medical technologist. She took her Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology degree from Centro Escolar University. She is currently studying Doctor of Medicine at the same university.

Alyssa A. Solaiman-Balt, School of Medicine, Centro Escolar University, Manila, Philippines

Alyssa A. Solaiman-Balt is a registered pharmacist. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree from the University of San Carlos. She is currently studying Doctor of Medicine at Centro Escolar University.

Theorell Joshua J. Abion, School of Medicine, Centro Escolar University, Manila, Philippines

Theorell Joshua J. Abion is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from the University of Santo Tomas. He is currently studying Doctor of Medicine at Centro Escolar University.

Pauline Bianca P. Banatin, School of Medicine, Centro Escolar University, Manila, Philippines

Pauline Bianca P. Banatin is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Biology from De La Salle University. She is currently studying Doctor of Medicine at Centro Escolar University.

Carina Viktoria M. Javier, School of Medicine, Centro Escolar University, Manila, Philippines

Carina Viktoria M. Javier is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree from Trinity University of Asia. She is currently studying Doctor of Medicine at Centro Escolar University.

References

Abion TJ, Apolinar NL, Atutubo MJ, Banatin PB, Javier CV, Lu RM, Rocha IC, Rondilla NA, Roque SJ, Solaiman-Balt A. Experiences of health-seeking individuals acquiring folk medicine services from Quiapo. Proceedings of the 17th National Health Research Forum for Action; 2018 Sep 19-20; Mandaluyong City, Philippines. Manila: Department of Health; 2018. p. 127-8.

Bhasin V. Medical anthropology: a review. Stud Ethnomed. 2007;1(1):1-20.

Society for Medical Anthropology. What is medical anthropology? United States: Society for Medical Anthropology; 2017. Cited Oct, 2020. Available from: http://www.medanthro.net/about/about-medical-anthropology/

Wangkheirakpam S. Traditional and folk medicine as a target for drug discovery. In: Mandal SC, Mandal V, Konishi T, editors. Natural products and drug discovery: an integrated approach. Elsevier; 2018. p. 29-56.

Fokunang CN, Ndikum V, Tabi OY, Jiofack RB, Ngameni B, Guedje NM, et al. Traditional medicine: past, present and future research and development prospects and integration in the National Health System of Cameroon. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2011;8(3):284-95.

Gritto MJ, Nanadagopalan V, Doss A. Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used by traditional healers in Shobanapuram village of Pachamalai Hill, Tamilnadu. Adv Appl Sci Res. 2015;6(3):157-164.

Panter-Brick C, Eggerman M. The field of medical anthropology in social science and medicine. Soc Sci Med. 2018 Jan;196:223-39.

Tan ML. Revisiting usog, pasma, kulam. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press; 2010.

Rebuya NR, Lasarte, ES, Amador, MMA. Medical pluralism, traditional healing practices, and the Partido albularyo: challenges in inclusion. Open J Soc Sci. 2020;8:72-79.

Zialcita FN. Quiapo: heart of Manila. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press; 2006.

Abdullah F, Corrado J, Detros K, Galima A, Germo AG, Olaya D, Orinion G, Posadas K, Vidal L. Organized chaos: a cultural analysis of Quiapo [research project]. University of the Philippines; 2013.

Flores RL, Legario RA, Malagotnot DBM, Peregrin K, Sato RA, Secoya ER. Ethnomedicinal study of plants sold in Quiapo, Manila, Philippines. Scholars Acad J Biosci. 2016;4(4A):359-365.

Romero P. Mixing science and faith, herbal medicine markets offer-cures and jobs [Internet]. The Rockefeller Foundation; 2013. Cited Oct, 2020. Available from: https://nextcity.org/informalcity/entry/mixing-science-and-faith-herbal-medicine-markets-offer-cures-and-jobs.

World Health Organization. Traditional, complementary, and integrative medicine [Internet]. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2020 [cited 2021 Feb]. Available from: https://www.who.int/traditional-complementary-integrative-medicine/about/en/.

Cerio CT. Albularyo folk healing: cultural beliefs on healthcare management in Partido District, Camarines Sur, Philippines. J Southeast Asian Stud. 2020 Jun;25(1):210-237.

Petrovska BB. Historical review of medicinal plants' usage. Pharmacogn Rev. 2012 Jan;6(11):1-5.

Nanjunda D. Factors affecting health seeking behavior and medical pluralism among rural populations: implications for health care professionals. Sri Ramachandra J Med. 2014;7:1.

Ekor M. The growing use of herbal medicines: issues relating to adverse reactions and challenges in monitoring safety. Front Pharmacol. 2014 Jan 10;4:177.

Montepio SN. Folk medicine in the Filipino American experience. Amerasia J. 1986;13(1):151-162.

Dayrit MM, Lagrada LP, Picazo OF, Pons MC, Villaverde MC. The Philippines health system review [Internet]. New Delhi: World Health Organization, Regional Office for South-East Asia; 2018. Cited Feb, 2021. Available from: https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/274579.

Ulep VGT, Dela Cruz NAO. Analysis of out-of-pocket expenditures in the Philippines. Philipp J Dev. 2013;40(1-2d):93-123.

Tobe M, Stickley A, Del Rosario RB Jr, Shibuya K. Out-of-pocket medical expenses for inpatient care among beneficiaries of the National Health Insurance Program in the Philippines. Health Policy Plan. 2013 Aug;28(5):536-48.

Tumanan-Mendoza BA, Mendoza VL, Bermudez-Delos Santos AAA, Punzalan FER, Pestano NS, Natividad RB, et al. Economic burden of hospitalisation for congestive heart failure among adults in the Philippines. Heart Asia. 2018 Oct 10;10(2):e011039.

Udayanga S. Lay reflections of health experiences and Sinhalese medicine in Sri Lanka. Asian Anthropol. 2018 Nov;17(4):276-292.

Berdon JS, Ragosta EL, Inocian RB, Manalag CA, Lozano EB. Unveiling Cebuano traditional healing practices. Asia Pac J Multidiscip Res. 2016;4(1):51-59.

Robles W. (Un)lucky charms: amulet vendors of Quiapo church. Quezon City: Central Book Supply; 2009.

Tan ML. Anting-anting. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Last updated: Nov 11, 2015, cited Feb, 2021. Available from: https://opinion.inquirer.net/90210/anting-anting.

Joven AE. Review of the book traditional medicine in the colonial Philippines, 16th to the 19th century. Philipp Stud. 2020;68(1):130-133.

Abad PJ, Tan ML, Baluyot MM, Villa AQ, Talapian GL, Reyes ME, et al. Cultural beliefs on disease causation in the Philippines: challenge and implications in genetic counseling. J Community Genet. 2014 Oct;5(4):399-407.

Rocha ICN, Roque SJR, Tanyag LG, Reyes KA, Sigui MAMM. Effect of Citrofortunella microcarpa (calamansi) peelings on whole blood coagulation using blood samples from albino mice. J Complement Altern Med Res. 2020 Dec;12(1):51-56.

Tan ML. True or false. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Last updated: Jun 6, 2018, Cited Feb, 2021. Available from: https://opinion.inquirer.net/113721/true-or-false.

Tan ML. Nationalism and medicine. Philippine Daily Inquirer [Internet]. Last updated: Jun 13, 2018, cited Feb, 2021. Available from: https://opinion.inquirer.net/113892/nationalism-and-medicine.

Sivertsen K, Lukic M, Kristoffersen AE. Gender specific association between the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and alcohol consumption and injuries caused by drinking in the sixth Tromso study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2018 Aug 13;18(1):239.

Kristoffersen AE, Broderstad AR, Musial F, Stub T. Prevalence, and health- and sociodemographic associations for visits to traditional and complementary medical providers in the seventh survey of the Tromso study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2019 Nov 11;19(1):305.

Luketina-Sunjka M, Rancic N, Mihailovic N, Jakovljevic M. The Impact of the Socio-Demographic Characteristics of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Users in Serbia on OTC Drug Consumption. Front Public Health. 2019 Oct 24;7:303.

Rivera JO, Loya AM, Ceballos R. Use of herbal medicines and implications for conventional drug therapy medical sciences. Altern Integ Med. 2013 Jul;2(6).

Published
2021-04-29
How to Cite
Rondilla, N. A., Rocha, I. C. N., Roque, S. J., Lu, R. M., Apolinar, N. L. B., Solaiman-Balt, A. A., Abion, T. J., Banatin, P. B., & Javier, C. V. (2021). Folk Medicine in the Philippines: A Phenomenological Study of Health-Seeking Individuals. International Journal of Medical Students, 9(1), 25-32. https://doi.org/10.5195/ijms.2021.849
Section
Original Article

Most read articles by the same author(s)