Upon feeling the first few drops of rain, we automatically scramble for cover.
But more than just getting wet, it is the fear of getting sick with colds and fever that sends us scampering for the safety offered by the nearest building, shed, or open umbrella. But then, as we watch the raindrops fall, we realize that rain is just water—how can it cause the common cold, which conventional science says is caused by a virus? Is there really a link between rain and ailments such as colds and fever, or is it time to write off this belief as mere superstition and go dancing in the rain?
For an answer to this mystery, we ask Dr. Bibiano “Boy” Fajardo, a traditional healer (known in Filipino as an albularyo) with 47 years of experience in ministering to Filipino’s health ailments, including colds, cough, and fever.
“Rain does not directly cause colds,” Dr. Fajardo explains. “But the lowering of temperature due to the rain makes your body more susceptible to it.”
“According to the old albularyos, your body’s soldiers, the white blood cells (WBC), are most effective at elevated temperatures. They cannot fight when it is cold,” Dr. Fajardo continues. “So when you get wet in the rain and bring the temperature down,” Dr. Fajardo points out, “you hamper your WBC’s ability to fight off infections, so you easily catch a cold.”
How to catch a cold
Dr. Fajardo explains that according to the old albularyos, catching a cold is a process that begins not only when you take in the cold virus, but when you provide a home for them (and other microorganisms) in your body. How? “When you eat too much starchy food and sweets, the excess carbohydrates and sugar become mucus in your intestines,” he says. “At this point, you already have mucus, even if you are not sick yet. But when the cold virus enters your body, and finds that you already prepared an ideal dwelling for it, it rapidly multiplies, so you quickly begin to manifest cold symptoms,” Dr. Fajardo relates.
“When the virus population is already significant,” Dr. Fajardo continues, “your body raises its temperature to help your WBC in fighting off the invaders. This is what we know as a fever—it is not an ailment in itself, but rather, our body’s natural way of helping fight off the infection.”
Traditional treatment for colds
In the olden days (and even today, in areas where there is a well-known albularyo or manghihilot), the first line of treatment for colds and fever is Hilot and herbs. Deep Hilot strokes at the bronchial area and the sides of the nape increases the neuroelectrical conductivity of the nerves and helps decongest them. Meanwhile, a combination of native cleansing herbs flushes away the mucus to get rid of the habitat of pesky viruses and bacteria, effectively doing away with these harmful microorganisms.
So the next time you are down with a cold and don’t want to take chemical remedies, remember that you have a more natural alternative that your great-grandmother would approve of—Filipino traditional Hilot and herbs.
If you would like to experience traditional Hilot firsthand, please contact the Association of Traditional Health Aid Givers, Inc. (ATHAG) at (0922)8844568 or (+632) 637 5154, or visit ATHAG’s office at 63 San Rafael St., Brgy. Kapitolyo, Pasig City.