We all know the famous saying when it comes to our lives: moms know best. Often, the really do. I mean, when we were small and know very little about life, we lean on our moms for advice and guidance. When we can’t take care of ourselves, our moms are there, and even when we’re old enough, our moms continue doing what they do best – mothering us.
I grew up under the parenting of a meticulous and caring mother. She knew everything, or at least she seemed like that to me back then. She was like the epitome of an all-around homemaker, wife and mother. She was a girl scout. Always prepared. I learned from her some of the essential medicines, which she always stock at home or carry in the bag for handy first aid treatment. Here are some of those medicines.
NOTE: Always ask doctor’s advice and read labels before using any medicine to avoid complications.
- Eye Mo/Visine Eye Drops
When I was a kid, eye drops such as Eye Mo and Visine were widely available. It was still “safe” to use. We could buy it over the counter without doctor’s prescription. One or two drops of the medicine are enough to relieve the discomfort of deyes redness and itchiness or the more serious case of sore eyes. When GlaxoSmithKline (Eye Mo) and Johnson & Johnson (Visine) began recalling specific batches of its eye drops back in 2014, it triggered aversion among Filipino consumers from these products entirely. Although Eye Mo and Visine are relatively cheaper, Pinoys now opted to consult their doctor and ask for prescription eye medicines such as Statrol and Maxitrol.
- Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol may not technically be medicine, but it is more than just a disinfectant to a Filipino household. It’s used for insect bites, sponge baths, and sometimes as astringent and cleanser as in the case of minor cuts and wounds as alternative to washing with soap and water. Then and now, rubbing alcohol is one of the main products you find in first aid kits and toiletry pouches of most Filipinos. We just can’t seem to live without it.
- Vicks VapoRub
Kids, as well as adults, are often inflicted with colds and cough, which prevents them from sleeping soundly at night. To relieve clogged nose and to soothe their sick bodies, Pinoy mothers would naturally resort to applying Vicks VapoRub on the chest, back and neck to induce sleep. In some cases, Vicks is used to lightly massage tired and sore muscles, and used in hot steam to relieve clogged nose. Vicks is also topically applied to relieve skin itchiness caused by insect bites. I for one like to smell Vicks whenever I start getting motion sickness or nauseous.
- White Flower Oil Emborication
Speaking of motion sickness, a small bottle of White Flower is a potent blend of essential oils to relieve nausea experienced when traveling, pregnant and being in a large crowd. To do so, the patient is simply asked to sniff the White Flower oil directly from its bottle, or place a tiny drop of it onto the tongue and another drop rubbed on the abdomen. White Flower oil is also used to treat insect bites, albeit in very small amounts because it can easily sting the skin and cause redness and burning sensation.
- Efficascent Oil
Efficascent Oil is widely used to relieve headache, muscle and joint pain, as well as insect bites. Pinay moms would usually stock a bottle of this at home, ever ready to give tired husbands a soothing massage they need after a long day’s work. Effiscasent Oil is also applied in small amount to the temples of the head facilitating a light massage to relax the patient suffering from fever, headache or migraine.
- Aceite de Manzanilla
Filipino mothers partner with acete de manzanilla (chamomile oil) to help soothe babies suffering from stomach gas. Babies have sensitive skin, and acete de manzanilla provides mild warmth and relief to babies with gassy tummies, making it a better option than the Efficascent Oil, Vicks or White Flower. Acete de manzanilla is likewise applied beforehand on the top of the head, on the legs and feet, and on the tummy to prevent stomach gas among babies – before bedtime and whenever the baby is in a cold environment. That is why it’s normal to find infants with shiny, oily heads – that’s acete de manzanilla right there.
- Band Aid
Band aid is a small bandage strip with adhesive and absorbent pad at the center used to cover minor cuts and small wounds and keep them from infection. You can buy it for one peso a piece off sari-sari stores. They are very effective in isolating wounds and cuts, keeping them dry and clean. Because they are cheap and easy to use, and because kids hurt themselves quite often, moms would definitely stock several pieces of band aid at home, or be ready to run to the nearest store to buy some.
Speaking of wounds, Betadine the most popular brand of povidone-iodine in the country, is the go-to medicine for dressing up wounds, cuts and abrasions. It is usually applied prior to covering the affected part with bandages, although the affected part may be left uncovered letting it dry up faster. Povidone-iodine may appear scary at first because it stains the skin like blood, but is actually very mild and is very gentle on the wound itself. When the product loses its golden amber tint, it means that the medicine has expired and lost its efficacy. The product is poured in drops on the affected area and spread using cotton swab.
- Sebo de Macho/ Manteca de Cacao
Filipino mothers are ever so caring that their mothering doesn’t end with treating wounds, they also take care of the scars. Once the wound is dried up and healed, moms would right away apply thin layers of anti-scar creams – sebo de macho or manteca de cacao. Sebo de macho is derived from animal fat while manteca de cacao is literally cocoa butter. These anti-scar products help fade scars by promoting quick healing via skin hydration. They moisturize the affected skin, helping it to heal completely and reproduce healthy tissues. Sebo de macho and manteca de cacao are very affordable. You can buy a small tub for less than P20. Compare that to more expensive scar removal creams that come in a few hundreds of pesos per tube or tub. The catch however is to apply the creams to newly formed scars because older scars seem harder to remove.
Biogesic is perhaps the most used and abused medicine. It contains paracetamol and is primarily used to reduce fever and moderate pain including headache and muscle pain. But because of its pain relieving effects, less knowledgeable moms may use the medicine for all sorts of pains although other drugs may be the more appropriate and more effective to use. Does Biogesic for diarrhea sound familiar? Then too biogesic is widely available and easy to buy without prescription. It’s also one of the safest medicines for pregnant women. Users must be warned though that Biogesic may cause drowsiness, and in rare cases, oral ulcers, skin rash, and bruising. Despite being and OTC drug and a universal pain reliever, people should take Biogesic with care to prevent adverse side effects.
So that’s it. My take on the top ten essential medicines for a Filipino household. If your lola or mama who were as meticulous as mine, I bet you also grew up having these medicines at home. You might even be a mother or parent yourself and stocking the same list of first aid products for your own household, or you’re probably using different medication altogether. Maybe you’re into herbal or alternative medicine? Whatever the case may be, share your thoughts with us. We’d be happy to hear from you.