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What is Lagundi?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Lagundi or Vitex negundo is a large shrub native to the Philippines that has been used as a traditional herbal medicine for centuries. Research conducted by the Philippine Department of Health has suggested that the plant has a number of practical uses, and its use is actively promoted by the government as a result. Outside of the Philippines, preparations of lagundi are sometimes available at stores which supply herbal medicines, or through practitioners of herbal and alternative medicine.

This plant is native to the swamps of the Philippines, where it can sometimes grow quite tall. It has a single thick, woody stem like a trunk, and the leaves appear palmately, in the form of five pointed leaves that splay out like the fingers of a hand. The leaves, root, flowers, and seeds of lagundi all appear to have medicinal value.

Preparations of lagundi have been used for a wide variety of complaints traditionally, although scientific research has concentrated on its use for respiratory complaints. It is generally accepted in the Philippines to be useful for coughs, asthma symptoms, and other respiratory problems, and the Philippine government actively promotes it as an alternative to Western cough medicines. Some doctors also prescribe it to assist in the treatment of asthma, as regular doses appear to reduce the strength of asthma attacks.

As an analgesic, lagundi also appears to have some efficacy. It has been compared to drugs like aspirin in trials that show that it may be useful in the treatment of things like pain after dental extractions. Some people like to take lagundi before going in for extractions, in an attempt to preempt the associated pain and discomfort.

Lagundi is prepared by boiling it, steeping it, and then straining it. At home, people make teas from the leaves, often producing a large amount and bottling the excess to use later. Commercially, lagundi can be purchased in the form of syrup or capsules to make it easier to handle. It is also blended in with cough medicines and other herbal remedies.

As with other herbal medicines, lagundi should not be taken without consulting a medical professional, as it may potentially conflict with other medications or it may be contraindicated for a particular condition. If a healthcare provider is resistant to herbal treatments, the patient may want to seek out a practitioner who supports complementary medicine so that he or she can get sound advice about whether or not this herb is safe to use.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon324215 — On Mar 09, 2013

Are lagundi caps safe for pregnant women?

By anon238271 — On Jan 03, 2012

I'm using Lagundi syrup now made in Laguna, Philippines. I have taken two doses already and I feel that I can breathe more easily now. I hope this is effective for my asthma. --lee

By jsmay — On Jul 29, 2011

@EricRadley - True enough, but don't you think that the pharmaceutical companies here would lose out enormously if something as simple and relatively inexpensive as lagundi leaf came along as such an effective cure for lung problems, asthma and so on?

By EricRadley — On Jul 29, 2011

@peabody - You raise a very valid point. However, I would think that the authorities in the Philippines would be more susceptible to investing so much time and money on lagundi (or for that matter, other medicinal shrubs or plants) because it's been a part of their culture for so long.

It would definitely take much time and additional research before health authorities on our side of the world would make these types of medicinal plant extracts available for public use. One of the main reasons is simply because they need to test it for themselves to ensure that it meets the health standards set here.

For example, think of very old times in the Far East when people believed that tiger bones could cure illnesses. It may have been part of their culture, but if we blindly adopted that practice, it wouldn't be very helpful either to people or the tigers!

By peabody — On Jul 28, 2011

I find it interesting that the Department of Health in the Philippines would actually do research and promote medicinal herbs like lagundi, whereas out here in the West, we mostly see only pharmaceutical medications being heavily promoted. Do you think we might benefit health-wise as a nation by learning more from other countries and cultures about their native medicines?

By cloudel — On Jul 27, 2011

After seeing firsthand how well lagundi tea worked at relieving my asthma, I wanted to know what else it might be good for. Lagundi has quite a few medicinal uses, and they cover a wide range of ailments.

One interesting use is to prevent the spread of snake venom throughout the body. After being bitten, you can boil the seeds in water, eat them, and drink the water to prohibit the movement of the toxin.

If you suffer from headaches, you can stuff your pillow with lagundi leaves for relief. Also, you can bruise the leaves and put them on your temples. Another option would be to eat the fruit, which is also said to cure watery eyes.

By Perdido — On Jul 27, 2011

I saw a photo and description of a lagundi plant in my mom’s herbal medicine encyclopedia. It kind of reminds me of a maple leaf because it is somewhat star-shaped. The leaves are between four and ten centimeters long and somewhat hairy on their undersides.

It has pretty little flowers that could be used in a bouquet much like baby’s breath. They range from blue to lavender in tiny sprays. The fruit of the lagundi is about 4 millimeters in diameter. It turns black when it is ripe.

By seag47 — On Jul 26, 2011

@Oceana - I’m with you on the effectiveness of lagundi as an herbal cough remedy. Rather than cough syrup or drops, I prefer to drink the hot lagundi tea for relief.

I got a nasty cold that got stuck in my chest. My bronchial tubes, throat, and stomach were all sore from my constant coughing. The antibiotics were working on the infection, but I needed some relief. So, I got some lagundi leaves.

I chopped them and boiled them in water. The package said to use four cups for every one cup of lagundi. So, I made a kettle of tea. I boiled it for 15 minutes, steeped it, then drained it. Three times a day, I would drink half a cup of the tea. It soothed my cough and my soreness.

By Oceana — On Jul 25, 2011

I use cough drops and a cough syrup containing lagundi. I find that these products are much more effective than traditional cough medicines at relieving the deep chest cough of an upper respiratory infection.

I still believe in traditional medicine, and I always go to get antibiotics for infections like strep throat that just won’t go away on their own. However, I consider cough medicines to be supplemental to the antibiotic treatment. Lagundi seems to at once coat and loosen my phlegm. I will probably use it even if prescribed a stronger cough medicine, because I know that it works.

By anon17133 — On Aug 23, 2008

what are the components of Lagundi extracts?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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