My grandmother has this funny, weird collection of health ideas that I don’t know if some of them are true, but I’m sure most of them are just local nonsense. Perhaps it is due to the lack of information and the belief in the albularyo or in the local healer.

These health beliefs always remind me of what it was like growing up in the province, fascinated and horrified by the adult world. Right now, it’s really reassuring that the things I used to believe weren’t so weird after all because I found out that somehow most of the provinces in the Philippines, and even other countries, have their own health legends as well. And the most common: sleeping with wet hair can cause blindness.

On the other hand, even communities in Metro Manila and other cities, especially poor urban communities, still believe in these health legends. Although city people have access to electricity and the media, much of their health information may be misleading, inaccurate, or distorted.

These beliefs are really funny, so I take the time to find little facts about it by doing a little research to satisfy my itch of curiosity. I am not a medical expert and my notes are still subject to medical scrutiny.

These are some of the popular beliefs about health in our city of Mindoro and my personal notes:

1. Sleeping with wet hair can cause blindness – In our province it is said that if you sleep with wet hair, first you will be cross-eyed, then you will go blind. I mean, if you wake up in the middle of your dream with wet hair, you’ll just have crossed eyes, and you know what, you’re considered lucky, because if you sleep any longer, you’ll be blind.

*My Notes: According to John C Hagan III, MD, an ophthalmologist affiliated with the American Academy of Ophthalmology, that belief is completely false. There is no connection between wet hair and eye problems. Why would you want to sleep with wet hair anyway?

2. Frog urine causes warts or kulugo – Kokak Kokak! No way. I used to love playing with frogs as a kid, what I got were bruises from chasing them, not warts.

*My Notes: The typical wart cause is not a frog. It happens because the wart virus finds a body with a weak immune system.

3. Eating too many mangoes can cause prickly heat or bungang-araw rashes. I’m not too sure about this. What I personally experienced is that my lips and throat stung when I accidentally ate a slice of that pico mango peel. Despite the fact that mango may be allergic to some people, it’s still a healthy fruit and I can’t help but eat this fruit, especially those overripe kinalabaw mangoes, hmm, delicious.

*My Notes: Well, the problem is that the sap of the mango tree and the rind of the fruit contain urushiol, the same chemical that the poison ivy plant produces. Some people experience skin rashes, especially on the lips, upon contact with the sap or skin of the fruit. Well, you can’t get so hungry that you want to eat even the skin of the mango, that’s reserved for those backyard pigs you know.

4. Eating grilled lizard can cure asthma: The usual practice is to grill a lizard until it turns black as coal, grind it, and then mix it with some juice or coffee so you can’t taste what a lizard really tastes like. . Others simply add a whole lizard when cooking rice. Yaik!

*My notes: Some experts say that asthma cannot be cured. Of course eating lizard is not based on a prescription or medical advice, but at least they believe in alternative medicine. However, we don’t really know its medicinal effects. In the meantime, I suggest we require that all lizards be labeled with “Unapproved Therapeutic Claims.” – until such time as an adequate study was carried out. Any objections, Godzilla?

5. Washing hands after ironing clothes can cause pasma – Pasma refers to a popular disease unique to Filipino culture with symptoms of hand tremors, sweaty palms, numbness and aches attributed to an interaction of “init” (heat ) and “lamig” (cold).

A rather amusing variation on this belief is the idea that condoms cause “shock” supposedly because the rubber aggravates body heat. Ha ha ha, maybe a powerless Catholic priest, who is fighting contraceptives and the Reproductive Health (SR) bill, started this rumor. LOL

*My notes: Pasma is not described in medical textbooks, discussed in medical schools, or generally recognized by contemporary medical science.

6. A woman who eats twin bananas will give birth to twins: Eating twin fruits like double almonds and bananas was thought to increase the chance of twins.

*My notes: None: I don’t bother googling it, because it’s obviously ridiculous. Just ask your local manghihilot to explain this in detail or maybe try visiting the psychic readers in Quiapo if you want more information.

7. Brushing your hair 100 times before going to bed can make it softer and shinier: This is the old tale that brushing your hair a lot, 100 to 200 times a day, is good for your hair.

*My Notes: According to the basic hair care article posted on the Mercury Drug website, we have about 100,000 strands of hair on our heads. Each grows from two to six years. It is normal to lose between 50 and 100 strands of hair a day. When the hair falls out, a new lock eventually replaces it.

* Her advice: Do not put pressure on the hair strands by brushing them too much or with too much force. The story of brushing your hair 100 times a night is not true. Brushing your hair too much simply makes it brittle and can cause your scalp to produce excess oil.

8. Eating ants can improve singing – Finally, the secret of Celine Dion and Charice Pempemco is finally out. Are the stir-fried ants after her angelic singing voice? Well, if that’s true, Willie Revillame and Paris Hilton should have done it two decades ago so they didn’t have to be a struggling singer.

*My Notes: Maybe a lunatic old singer, during one of her epileptic seizures, started sharing her secret about eating ants to improve her voice, her die-hard fans heard her, and from there, the legend continues. AZ and Princess Bala won’t love this.

9. Drinking seawater can cure coughs/colds: In our Mindoro province, whenever we have a cough, my mother lets us swim in the sea early in the morning and encourages us to take a drink of seawater to cure cough. Of course, the sea water in our small town is really clear and clean, unlike the toxic yukkiiee Manila Bay.

But wait, based on my fact-finding spree, this one, which I thought was also an absurd belief, surprisingly has some truth to it. Well, at least I found out that not all the beliefs on my list are just nonsense.

* My notes: according to Czech research [Efficacy of Isotonic Nasal Wash (Seawater) in the Treatment and Prevention of Rhinitis in Children], seawater spray cures children’s colds. It may be that the salt water has a simple mechanical effect of removing mucus, or it could be that trace elements in the water play a larger role, although the exact reason why such a solution works is unknown, said Dr. Ivo Slapak . and colleagues at the Brno University Hospital in the Czech Republic.

I’m sure you also know some health myths like jumping on New Year’s Eve to make you taller.