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.