Five Health Myths Many Filipinos Believe

Philippines is a hodgepodge different superstitions that have withstood the test of time.  If you’re a true-blue Filipino, you can probably list at least ten different superstitions that can be applied to different aspects of our daily lives. However, as much as we want to protect our cultural heritage, some beliefs, like those crazy healthy myths that have survived over the years due to lack of accurate health information, are not worth keeping at all. It pays to heed the advice of certified medical professionals so here are five health myths that you should start removing from your own memory box:


Myth#1: Kissing is one of the best ways to transmit HIV infection

There are a lot of social stigmas that have been attached to HIV infection over the past few years and one of them is the idea that kissing is one of the best ways to transmit the infection from one person to another. Well, kissing is an intimate activity but close physical contact doesn’t always mean an increased chance of disease transmission. As a matter of fact, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers open-mouth kissing as low-risk for transmitting HIV, especially if both partners are without sores or cuts on the mouth or lips. However, kissing that is free from HIV risks just won’t work for everybody, especially if both partners have mouth sores or certain forms of abrasions that can lead to an unexpected exchange of blood during kissing moments. Saliva contains proteins, making it a poor vehicle for HIV but when wounds and blood come to the picture, that’s the best time to take caution.


Myth#2: You’ll become blind if you sleep on wet hair

There is no real connection that exists between sleeping on wet hair and blindness but perhaps due to sheer coincidence, people in the past went overboard in suggesting this mind-boggling health myth. I’ve tried doing it for so many times but I always wake up with my sense of sight still intact, so this idea is completely outrageous. In addition to that, a lot of health experts both inside and outside our country have long considered this health myth as just a product of someone’s wild imagination.

John C Hagan III, MD, an Ophthalmologist affiliated with the American Academy of Ophthalmology, says that this belief is totally untrue while Milagros Barzaga MD, a specialist in Family Medicine-Geriatricine at the Manila Doctors’ Hospital and Medical Center in Manila, says “Maybe it happened in the past but due to a real cause, which coincided with sleeping with wet hair.”

People must not be wary about sleeping with wet hair but instead be careful with their food intake and lifestyle to protect themselves from the leading causes of blindness today like glaucoma, diabetes mellitus, stroke and Vitamin A deficiency.


Myth#3: Washing your hands after writing or doing other chores will cause shaky hands (‘Pasma’)

We have heard enough about “pasma” that most of us have led to believe this as true. However, as far as sufficient medical claims and accurate scientific studies are concerned, the concept about “PASMA” is not at all true and significant.  As a matter of fact, physical therapist Caroline King Kay has this to say: “The hand tremors, numbness, pain, and excessive sweating associated with plasma can also be individually found in all sorts of illnesses like diabetes mellitus, thyroid dysfunctions, neurologic problems, and hand overuse; it can even be away to project tiredness—meaning it’s psychological.”

Myth#4: Brushing your hair 100 times or more every night can produce softer and silkier hair

Anything in excess can be bad for one’s health and that can be applied to dismiss the spreading rumours about over brushing and its potential to make your hair silkier and shinier. Although it is true that most women ages ago used it to maintain the beauty of their crowning glory, it is not applicable in the modern world especially that various hair products have sprouted in the market over the years. Even a plain shampoo can do the basic job of taking care of our hair without the need of over brushing it for up to 100 times a day. It only increases the sebum in your scalp and will only make your hair strands weaker in the long run. On the other hand, if there’s something that you need to believe, that should be the fact that brushing your hair when it’s still wet can cause a lot of damage. This is because your hair is about 3 to 4 times weaker when it’s wet than when it’s dry.


Myth#5: You’ll give birth to twins if you eat twin bananas (and other superstition about  craving during pregnancy)

During the 1960’s, pregnant mothers in Dumaguete City would go as far as touching American professors at a nearby university just to fulfil their beliefs about craving during pregnancy (“paglilihi”) or how certain foods or people can affect the whole process of conception. Many years after that, Filipinos are still captivated by this idea which is a mixture of both biology and anthropology. Some even believe that eating twin bananas can give a mother twin babies or getting a full meal of crabs can produce an offspring that is full of structural deformities resembling a real-life crab. No matter what people believe, there is no direct link between paglilihi and how the baby will turn out after birth. Health habits and existing medical conditions remain as the main factors that can affect the whole outcome of the pregnancy.

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