The tawa-tawa plant is used for medicinal purposes in the Philippines, as patients who suffer from dengue fever often find it to relieve symptoms and aid in recovery. Dengue comes from any of four related viruses that mosquitoes transmit. Because there is no vaccine for dengue, the best way to avoid the disease is to avoid mosquito bites. However, for those who get dengue, the tawa-tawa plant can bring relief.
The tawa-tawa plant grows along roadsides and in open pastures, and it has long been in use in the Philippines as a cure for dengue. A study published in 2012 that was undertaken by the University of Sto Tomas used rodent studies to identify the reasons behind the success of the tawa-tawa plant for so many dengue patients.
In the study, rats received either ethanol, heparin or chloramphenicol to cause thrombocytopenia, which mimics the symptoms of dengue hemorrhagic fever. The students then administered tawa-tawa to all three groups. Platelet count increased, and bleeding time and clotting time both reduced in all three groups. The conclusion was that the tawa-tawa drug improved the rats' healing performance by promote the production of cells and keeping platelets intact. The ultimate conclusion was that the indigenous practice of using tawa-tawa decoctions for treating dengue fever was upheld by the outcomes from the experimental setup.