Bicolanos have their own version of moonwalk that is neither space walking nor dancing. Rather it comes in the form of a medicinal plant, whose local name lakad-bulan literally translates to walking on the moon.
Sambong (Blumea balsamifera) of plant Family Asteraceae is native to the Philippines. Locally called lakad-bulan, the B. balsamifera is a popular herbal plant used in treating kidney problems, lumbago, rheumatism, wounds, diarrhea, colds, and coughs. It grows to a height of 1-3 meters from low to medium elevation, in open grasslands and thickets. Its aromatic leaves are wide ovoid or oblong-lanceolate, simple and alternate while its flower is yellow.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 80% of the population in developing countries rely on herbs in treating various diseases and as part of their primary health care needs. The Philippines in particular, through the Department of Health (DOH) has released a list of 10 scientifically validated Philippine medicinal plants. This includes akapulco, ampalaya, bawang, bayabas,lagundi, niyug-niyugan, tsaang gubat, ulasimang bato, yerba buena and sambong.
In the Philippines, the leaves of lakad-bulan are usually boiled and taken as a tea. They are rich in chemical compounds and nutrients and are used to treat various afflictions of the body like wounds and stomach pain. It has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. It is also made into a poultice to relieve arthritis, colds, and cough.
Lakad-bulan is also taken as a tea to help maintain a healthy urinary tract. It is popular among people with kidney problems because of its diuretic properties. It also helps flush uric acid. Interestingly, the Philippine National Kidney and Transplant Institute recommends lakad-bulan for patients with renal problems.
The National Museum continues to promote the study of indigenous plant remedies to preserve our folk tradition and enjoy the benefits of natural medicine.