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April 24, 1954

A Short History of Medicine in the Philippines during the Spanish Regime 1565-1898

JAMA. 1954;154(17):1470. doi:10.1001/jama.1954.02940510070030

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Of the beginnings of medicine in the Philippines Dr. Bantug says, "No authentic monuments have come down to us that indicate with some certainty early medical practices." In his brief chapter on aboriginal superstitions it is related that corpses were bathed and rubbed with camphor oil and preserved with buyo (beetle) as well as aloes introduced through the mouth. This procedure is said to have been so effective that after many years the cadavers were still perfectly preserved. The ancient Filipinos believed in signs and augurs. An owl in the neighborhood of the sick was thought to be a sign that death was near. A new house in which a snake had been seen was of evil omen and must not be occupied.

In the years preceding the Spanish regime medicinal plants were commonly used, and the therapeutic properties of many of them, the author says, have been amply corroborated

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