10 Pinoy health myths debunked
(Part 2)

Shifting from reactive to proactive health care

Health-related myths are nothing more than old wives’ tales that have been passed on to us by our elders. Although many of these myths challenge scientific and medical findings, surprisingly many Filipinos still cling to them.

Here’s the continuation of 10 Pinoy health myths debunked (Part 1).

Myth #6: A “suhi” (born breech) can dislodge fishbone stuck down one’s throat

Have you ever experienced a fishbone stuck down your throat? For those who have, you must know how unpleasant it is. According to some elders, if you know someone who is “suhi”, you can ask that person to massage your throat to loosen the fishbone inside. Allegedly, the “suhi’s” touch has the ability to dislodge the fishbone. This folk belief is still being practiced today. Most likely your lolo or lola attest that this practice works but there are no medical findings that support it.

Accidentally swallowing a fishbone rarely requires going to the doctor’s clinic for treatment. There are some home remedies that you can try such as eating a banana and followed by drinking water. The banana can push the fishbone downward. The same thing applies to eating bread soaked in water for a minute. Making a few forceful coughs can also help shake the fishbone loose. In some instances, you can just leave it alone. Sharp fishbones can scratch the back of your throat. Sometimes the bone is not there anymore but you still feel it due to the effects of the scratching.

Chances are those who sought the help of a “suhi” already applied some home remedies beforehand. When the affected person feels relief, he/she attributes it to the massage of the “suhi”, not realizing that the home remedy has taken effect.

If you experience trouble breathing due to the fishbone stuck down your throat, it’s best to head to the emergency room as soon as possible.

Myth #7: Washing tired hands or taking a bath after playing outdoor games/sports can cause “pasma”

“Huwag ka munang maliligo kapag pagod at baka ma-pasma ka.” You probably heard this warning once too often. But, what is this condition called “pasma”? It is a folk illness said to be caused by sudden temperature changes (e.g. from hot to cold). For instance, if you just finished ironing clothes, you are discouraged by elders to wash your hands after. Children who spend time playing outside (running around and coming home sweaty) are usually not allowed to take a bath immediately. People are believed to be “pasmado” when they manifest excessive palm sweating, trembling/shaking of the hands, or numbness of the hands.


Despite widespread belief, “pasma” is not recognized by modern medical sciences. So medically speaking, “pasma” is not real. If you regularly experience the so-called symptoms of “pasma”, you’re advised to consult a health professional to rule out any underlying condition.

Myth 8: Getting wounded on Good Friday will delay wound healing

Many Pinoy parents and grandparents often warn children not to go out and play on Good Friday to avoid getting play-related wounds. “Bawal masugatan pag Good Friday kasi hindi gagaling ang sugat,” is a common line of “panakot” among elders to discourage kids from playing rough outdoor games. This health myth with religious connotations has no logical reason. Medically, the top factors that can affect wound healing are age, nutrition, obesity, repeated trauma, skin moisture, chronic conditions, and medication.

Myth #9: Stepping over a sleeping child will stunt his/her growth

This might sound absurd but there are still people who follow this rather than risk hindering their child’s growth. According to this myth, if you accidentally step over a sleeping child, you can counteract the alleged consequence by stepping over the child again. Medically speaking, stepping over a sleeping child will not result in stunted growth. Scientific factors linked to human growth are race, gene, birth weight, nutrition hormone, and environment.

Myth #10: Getting rid of a hiccup by putting a short thread on the forehead

Many Filipino parents still believe that they can cure their child’s hiccups by placing a short thread (wet with saliva) on the kid’s forehead. Like all the “pamahiin” before this, there is no scientific evidence that supports this health belief.

Hiccups can happen to anyone at any age. Mild hiccups usually disappear in a short time but there are some home remedies that can help make it go away faster. Popular home reliefs include drinking a glass of water quickly and holding your breath and swallowing three times. While some prefer gargling with water.

Severe hiccups that persist for more than two days or interfere with one’s breathing, sleeping, or eating may require medical attention.

Impact of health myths on well-being

Many Pinoy health myths can be traced as far as the pre-colonial era and these “pamahiins” continue to influence our opinions and actions. Although some would think that believing in them may seem harmless, these health myths may interfere with our way of responding to health-related issues. We should not let these beliefs prevent us from making the right health choices. Prioritize your well-being by visiting a health professional and getting affordable healthcare plans. Knowing how to separate myths from scientifically-proven practices can prevent medical conditions from getting worse.

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