Folk Medicine: Naturalistic

Illnesses are attributed to natural forces and conditions.


  • Init, lamig, at pasma
    • This is similar with the ancient Greek concept humoral pathology.
    • The belief that an imbalance in one or more of one of the four humors (blood, yellow bile, black bile, phlegm) leads to illness.
    • The belief that being exposed to extreme cold (lamig) right after being exposed to extreme heat (init) or vice versa can lead to tremors (pasma)
  • Hangin
    • The belief that direct exposure to electric fans or air conditioners causes muscle pains and pneumonia.
  • Singaw ng lupa
    • The belief that hot ground hit by cold rain will lead to illnesses such as headaches.

Folk Medicine: Personalistic

Illnesses attributed to the intentional intervention of a sensate agent which can be supernatural or human. The intervention of the sensate agent is intentional.


  • Namatanda
    • The belief that a disease is inflicted by an environmental spirit.
    • This is an animistic society‟s way of trying to make sense of what is different.
  • Multo
    • The belief that a disease is inflicted by a ghost that is not necessarily malevolent ot necessarily malevolent but still believed to ca
  • Engkanto
    • The belief that an entity from a parallel and supernatural world cause a disease.
    • These entities include kapre, tikbalang, dwende, diwata,
  • Gaba
    • The belief that God causes an illness because you have done something bad, also known as divine retrbution.
    • This is promoted by the Catholic hierarchy to some extent.
    • Sins of the forefathers can cause illness in future generations.
  • Aswang
    • The belief that aswang, a creature that consumes human and animal flesh, can cause a disease.
  • Kulam at barang
    • The belief someone can cause you harm even at a distance.
    • This is common in societies where the justice system is weak and in polygamous societies.
    • Kulam represents the lack of trust in society.
    • Kontra kulam treatments can delay and hamper medical treatment.

Folk Medicine: Mystical

Illnesses result as an automatic consequence of some acts or experiences of the person. One becomes ill without doing anything and it is not caused by a supernatural being.


  • Kaluluwa
    • The belief that a disease occurred when the soul couldn’t return to the body.
  • Tadhana
    • The belief that this is the way things are meant to be and you can’t do anything to change your fate.
  • Usog
    • The belief that counteracting the effect of a compliment on a baby which causes stomach aches.
    • This comes from the Filipino value of modesty.
  • Bangungot
    • The belief that one increases risks by going to bed right after a full meal, has nightmares, and might even die if unable to regain control of his body.
    • Victims are supposed to wiggle a toe or finger to regain that control.
    • People who are susceptible are also advised not to sleep alone because if they have an attack, someone should be around to wake him up.
  • Paglilihi
    • The belief that first trimester conception leads to cravings.
    • The belief that the features of the fetus can be shaped by a person the mother interacts with during conception.