10 Pinoy Health Myths You Once Thought Were True
Were you ever told to never sleep with wet hair?
As children, we were taught never to mess with ant hills. If your feet swelled up or you got feverish, you were told you probably stepped on the forbidden mound and got cursed by the nuno sa punso.
When you got older, you realized that the feared mound of the unexplained was actually inhabited by termites instead of little old men or dwarves. Disappointing, really. Because your swollen feet and fever might have come from joint aches and not a curse, which burst your bubble a little.
Admit it, knowing that Pardina’s friends and those fun creatures from Inday Bote were myths is like knowing the truth about Santa Claus. Bummer.
Here are 10 health myths that made you a sucker, but perhaps now you know better.
Sleeping with wet hair causes blindness
Does our hair give off toxic fumes when we sleep, to cause us to go blind? At least that’s how we used to picture it as kids.
Of course, from a medical standpoint, there is absolutely no plausible reason for you to go blind if you sleep with wet hair, as ophthalmologists will tell you. Probably the only bad thing about sleeping with wet hair is how stringy it might feel in the morning.
Going to a manghihilot to get pregnant
For Filipino women having trouble conceiving, it’s common to be told to go to a manghihilot who can supposedly help position the lowered uterus by raising it, in turn preparing it for conception.
While some attribute their successful pregnancy to the old woman with the expert hands, others are still unable to get pregnant. There’s just no scientific evidence to support the claim that abdominal massages can increase a woman’s chances of getting pregnant.
We’ve heard it once too often. After a long hard day of labor or a few hours ironing clothes, you shouldn’t touch cold water because you might suffer from pasma. But the problem is, pasma does not exist—medically, that is.
Brushed off as folk illness by medical anthropologists, a lot of Pinoys still believe it actually happens.
Usog is when you unknowingly hex a child by greeting him or her (binati) or just by being new to that place. It was believed that usog would lead the child to suffer from gas pain, fever, convulsions, and headaches. Apparently, the only cure is by wetting your fingertips with your saliva and rubbing this on the child’s forehead, tummy, or feet while saying “pwera usog.”
While there’s no scientific basis for usog, there’s a more logical theory about child distress in meeting strangers.
Eating ants to get a great singing voice
We Pinoys love to sing, and probably out of that love, came all sorts of myths about being able to sing like Sarah Geronimo. But the thing is, ants can’t help you sing better.
Although ants produce formic acid which kills off bacteria and could help clear up throat infections, it is highly doubtful that you’re going to have birit-level range and pitch even if you gobble up the whole anthill.
If you got a wound on Good Friday, it would take a long time to heal
That scared the hell out of us as children. We tried so hard to be on our best behavior on Good Fridays lest we get wounds that took forever to heal.
This health myth has more religious than logical roots, which is something we Pinoys take very seriously. However, known factors related to the healing of wounds don’t include Good Friday.
Pinching a newborn’s nose so it won’t be pango
If you weren’t born with an aquiline nose, you probably resented anyone who disregarded this myth. Maybe you thought your mom forgot to pinch your nose from time to time when you were just a baby.
Well, turns out that no pinching in the world could ever change that nose because you probably got it from one of your parents (read: genetics). The truth however is, nose pinching in infants can actually do more harm than good.
Stepping over a sleeping child will delay his or her growth
And the only way to reverse this is to step over the child again. By now we know better; no amount of stepping over will turn you into a midget and no reverse stepping over will ever undo our being short.
A study was conducted on Filipino children regarding stunted growth and as expected, this health myth isn’t listed as a factor.
The five second rule
Here’s the premise: Any food you drop on the floor will be bacteria-free and is still consumable if you retrieve it within five seconds.
Studies have actually been done based on this premise and it’s interesting to note that the adherence of bacteria depends on the floor’s level of contamination.
But really, would you take a chance rather than throw it out kasi wala pang five seconds?
Sucking on your pricked finger so the blood can re-enter your body
Well, it would. Just not enough to make it through your circulation. It wouldn't even reach your throat. But we know that blood is vital to life, and in theory, we know it has to be conserved. Hence the health myth of sucking on one’s pricked finger so you don’t waste a drop.
It is interesting to note though, that although harmless in small amounts, ingestion of blood in large amounts is actually more fatal to humans than beneficial, unless you’re a vampire.
Read the full articles, "10 Pinoy Health Myths You Thought Were True" and "Another 10 Pinoy Health Myths You Thought Were True" on Filipiknow.net. Minor edits were made by the SPOT.ph editors.
Art by Warren Espejo