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‘Tabi-tabi po’: Debunking Pinoy health ‘pamahiins’

by Jericho Zafra

TABI-TABI po, because you are about to be educated.

You know you are a Filipino raised by a superstitious family if you often hear the saying: “Wala namang mawawala kung susundin.”

Filipinos have been very superstitious. As a country colonized multiple times by the Spanish, American, and Japanese, Filipinos have been ingrained with a diverse set of cultures with an indecipherable number of superstitions.

Experts have already challenged these superstitions through the years as human civilization progressed. However, deep-seated beliefs have become the way of life of many, and it’s about time to discuss health superstitions that have no scientific basis.

Putting a short piece of saliva-saturated thread on the forehead can help you get rid of a hiccup.

Citing a Smart Parenting survey, Makati Medical Center said in a report that five out of 10 parents are still practicing this superstition. 

What causes hiccups?

According to Mayo Clinic, hiccups are caused by involuntary spasms of your diaphragm, which is the muscle that connects your chest to your belly and is essential for breathing. This involuntary spasm forces your vocal cords to close extremely briefly, producing the distinctive hiccup sound.

What should you do instead?

Makati Medical Center said in order to prevent hiccups, you can do the following: bite on a lemon slice, sip ice-cold water slowly and gently squeeze your nose as you swallow, or briefly hold your breath. 

By avoiding carbonated beverages, eating more slowly, and having smaller meals, you can also avoid having hiccups, it said.

Frog urine can cause warts

This pamahiin has been believed for ages already, and it is still frequently utilized by Filipino parents to keep their children away from frogs. The belief is that when a frog pees on a child, there is a huge chance that warts would develop on the affected area. 

Makati Med said in its report that this belief is also based on frogs having wart-like blemishes on their skin, and is why parents associate frogs with warts.

What causes warts? 

But warts are actually caused by viruses that produce an overproduction of keratin. Common warts are tiny, scraped skin growths that commonly appear on your hands or fingers. Common warts are scratchy to the touch and frequently have a pattern of small black dots, which are actually occluded blood vessels, it said.

How to prevent warts?

To lower your chance of developing common warts, Mayo Clinic advised the following: 

  • Avoid direct contact with warts. This includes your own warts.
  • Don’t pick at warts. Picking may spread the virus.
  • Don’t use the same emery board, pumice stone, or nail clipper on your warts as you use on your healthy skin and nails. Use a disposable emery board.
  • Don’t bite your fingernails. Warts occur more often in skin that has been broken. Nibbling the skin around your fingernails opens the door for the virus.
  • Groom with care. And avoid brushing, clipping, or shaving areas that have warts. If you must shave, use an electric razor.

A child’s height growth will be stunted if you step over them.

According to the report, a child’s development is influenced by a number of factors, including nutrition, socioeconomic situation, genes, sex, and hormones. Older generations frequently hold this pamahiin. However, there is no proof to support it.

What causes stunted growth?

Stepping over a child does not indicate that the child will be stunted. According to the World Health Organization, the primary reason behind stunting is a lack of nutrition and recurring infections or chronic illnesses that impair nutritional intake, absorption, or use.

How to avoid stunted growth?

The WHO said that to prevent children’s stunted growth, the primary way is to ensure they get appropriate nutrition, including vitamins and food rich in minerals. 

Aside from genetics, getting enough sleep and proper exercise are also crucial for height growth, according to the report.

Superstitious beliefs, particularly those concerning health, have been addressed over time as experts educate the public about their consequences. When superstitions rule health, more lives are endangered, so it is better to be educated than sorry.

It’s 2023. Stop resorting to superstitious remedies.



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