Consulting Hippocrates

By Herbert Vego

DURING a coffee talk with broadcaster Jun Capulot, I asked him why many food-supplement manufacturers advertise their products in his radio and video programs.

“It pays,” he said. “Their advertised products sell like hotcakes.”

I could only agree. Otherwise, why would his advertisers persevere?

That makes sense especially in the time of Covid-19, since the poor would rather buy over-the-counter multi-vitamins directly in drug stores than double their expenses by consulting a doctor first.

Moreover, it’s not just to save money that some people do not always follow the doctor’s prescription. I say so from personal experience.

There was a time when a doctor asked me to take an anti-cholesterol drug after an x-ray had revealed an “atherosclerotic aorta.” Because the branded “statin drug” was very expensive and I was already spending much for anti-hypertension “maintenance,” I just bought a partial number of tablets.

However, within three days of religiously taking the drug as prescribed, I could no longer put on my polo shirt due to excruciating muscle pain.

I instinctively turned to the Internet blogs to research on “statin” – medical term for an anti-cholesterol formula. It shocked me to read that other users of the drug had reported the same side effect: unbearable muscular pain. There was not a single favorable testimonial.

My research led me to a YouTube channel where a Dr. William Li was “preaching” fruits and vegetables as the better alternatives to anti-cholesterol drugs in restoring cardio-vascular health. Such restoration, however, necessitates cutting down on red meat.

Why not? No less than the acknowledged Greek father of medicine, Hippocrates (460-337 BC), is remembered for this quotation: “Let your food be your medicine and medicine, your food.”

Today, we all know that vegetables and fruits strengthen the body’s built-in immune system, giving it the capacity to fight disease-causing bacteria and virus. The lowly and cheap malunggay is widely believed to be effective in boosting the immune system.

There were no “fast foods” and preserved “junks” during Hippocrates’ time. No doubt the main foodstuffs then consisted mostly of fresh plants and fresh fish. That he lived to be an octogenarian proves that he successfully practiced what he had preached.

Hippocrates as a physician prescribed natural remedies to prevent and treat diseases. His approach was both therapeutic and experimental, since there were no sophisticated laboratories yet to help him diagnose patients and evaluate outcome of treatment. He would wait and see. Whenever a patient recovered, he would further observe him to validate nutritional therapy, herbal medicine, and other natural remedies.

Hippocrates might have heard about herbal practitioners who had preceded him. Despite the primitive means of transportation and communication in his time, herbal medicine as practiced in China for centuries had already gained global patronage. Today, such previously doubtful Chinese practices as acupuncture, acupressure and reflexology have each gained a niche in modern medicine.

Shed of hypocrisy, conventional medicine ought to be integrated with alternative medicine because they really do not oppose each other. On the contrary, they complement each other like parallel railroad tracks. Indeed, modern medicine has evolved from this time-honored co-existence.

Natural medicines are no cure-all but are not detrimental unless laced with chemicals. They offer hope to desperate patients, including those whom hospitals have given up.

There was a time when representatives of a Japanese drug company came to Manila looking for suppliers of rosas sa baybayon, which they would like to formulate into tablets and capsules to be sold in Japan.

The universal interest in going back to nature is no doubt behind the popularity of herbal shampoos, soaps and cosmetics. No wonder the manufacturers of soft drinks now imprint “vitamin-enriched” on their products.

The Philippine government, unfortunately, appears lukewarm in implementing a law that could have exploited the abundance of medicinal plants in the countryside. It’s the Traditional Alternative Medicine Act (TAMA) of 1998, which is supposed to encourage drug companies to use native herbs as active components of their products.

The Department of Health hardly moves in the direction of encouraging Filipinos to patronize herbal alternatives.

It is ironic, considering that physicians start their career by taking the “Hippocratic Oath” to treat the ill to the best of their ability.



THE sharp reduction imposed by MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power) in cost of electricity in Iloilo City reminds me of a paint ad where a character exclaims, “It’s a miracle!”

This time, however, it’s the power consumer who could not hide his excitement over the price drop as reflected in his bill for the previous month of July 2021. From ₱10 per kilowatt-hour to ₱6.45, that translates to 36 percent off for a savings of ₱3.55.

MORE Power’s cut-price becomes more evident when compared to the residential rate of the Manila Electric Co. (MERALCO), which is P8.90 per kWh.

As previously reported, MORE Power’s President Roel Z. Castro had exhausted all ways and means to achieve that price cut – the lowest in the Philippines —   by signing a power-supply deal with the state-owned Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corporation, the producer of renewable geothermal energy in Tongonan, Leyte.

The contract gives MORE Power the right to directly purchase 100 percent of its needed power supply from PSALM.

The lower power price is beneficial to residential and commercial consumers in Iloilo City amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

This should appease consumers who had also been rooting for “clean energy”.

Geothermal energy—geo (earth) + thermal (heat)—is heat energy from the earth.

Geothermal resources are underground reservoirs of clean hot water that exist at varying temperatures and depths below the Earth’s surface. The energy from steam of very hot water is brought to the surface for use in electricity generation.

Geothermal energy is renewable, always available through proper reservoir management, the rate of energy extraction can be balanced with a reservoir’s natural heat recharge rate.

PSALM’s geothermal power plant produces electricity consistently, running 24 hours per day, seven days per week, regardless of weather conditions.

By harnessing this clean, domestic natural resource to generate electricity, PSALM eliminates the need to import or transport fossil fuel.

It emits no greenhouse gasses and consumes less water than conventional generation technologies.