‘Tawa-Tawa' Study Fast-tracked

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 03:12 AM    Views : 5986by:EDD K. USMAN

Is a cure for the dreaded dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) coming?

This question cropped up as the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), told the Manila Bulletin that a research on tawa-tawa (Euphorbia hirta) is being fasttracked.

PCHRD is an attached agency of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCHRD).

Along with DOST's two other sectoral planning councils, its tasks include the formulation of policies, plans, projects and strategies for Science and Technology (S&T), among others.

Dr. Jose Montoya, PCHRD executive director, said the research on tawa-tawa as a potential herbal medicine for dengue is being hastened.

"That is because there is a need," he says.

He said PCHRD is funding the research on tawa-tawa, a plant of the genus Euphorbia, to find out if it can increase the number of platelet count of a dengue patient.

Tawa-tawa, also known as "gatas-gatas," is a hairy herb that normally grows in grounds at home, in grasslands, roadsides, or pathways.

As a folkloric treatment in the Philippines for dengue, tawa-tawa has earned many anecdotal testimonies from those who purportedly became well from the plant's concoction: its leaves boiled like a tea and taken orally like, well, a tea.

Understandably, many others are skeptical of tawa-tawa's alleged healing properties against dengue; this is because there is no scientific evidence yet backing up claims.

The government, through the DOST-PCHRD, embarked on a new study to ascertain the science of tawa-tawa's therapeutic properties.

"We are the ones (PCHRD) funding the research," said Montoya, an academician and one of the recipients of the 2012 Presidential Lingkod Bayan Awards.

"It is like this," he said, "the first study done showed (tawa-tawa) has effect on the dengue virus; that is killing the virus."

"The second question is, does it raise platelet count in dengue patients? That is still being studied," Montoya said.

He said the result of the study might be known within the year, or early next year.

"So, the research on the platelet is still ongoing; but the one on the (dengue) virus is already finished," he added.

Montoya was referring to the study done by students of the Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Santo Tomas (UST), titled "Investigation of the anti-thrombocytopenic property of Euphorbia hirta linn (Tawa-Tawa) decoction in rat models."

In their study, they found out that the herbal plant has active ingredients that may aid in the treatment of DHF patients.


S & T Trivia

" In 1947, Executive Order No. 94 was issued converting the Bureau of Science into an Institute of Science and placed under the executive supervision of the President of the Philippines. "

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