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5 Popular Filipino Health Pamahiins And The Truth Behind Them

Medically reviewed by Martha Juco, MD · Aesthetics

Written by Kristel Lagorza · Updated Jul 25, 2022

5 Popular Filipino Health Pamahiins And The Truth Behind Them

Most Filipinos do not really know where or how our pamahiins (cultural long-held superstitions) originated from. But most people still observe them because, what harm can they do really? But do these Filipino health pamahiins work?

Here is the truth behind five of the most common Filipino health pamahiins

Paglilihi (Pregnancy Cravings)

At some point in pregnancy, a woman craves specific food, or grows fond of a particular thing or a person. Many Filipinos believe that what she craves has a direct effect on how her baby will look like. 

For example, if a woman eats food that is colored white like radish, the baby will be born with fair skin. If a woman eats twin bananas, she will give birth to twins.

Although pregnancy cravings are real, there is no truth to paglilihi. The reason why a woman may crave specific tastes during pregnancy is still unknown, but some experts say it is brought about by hormonal changes during pregnancy.

Pregnancy cravings and/or aversions are normal and typically begin during the first trimester. It peaks in the second trimester and will decline in the third. A woman’s diet can greatly affect the health of her baby, but the baby’s physical attributes are still largely determined by genetics, and not paglilihi.

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The Five-Second Rule

This myth simply states that food is still safe to consume if you pick it up within five seconds after dropping it. Eating food that has fallen on a presumably unclean surface can cause food poisoning, which may cause vomiting, fever, and diarrhea, among others. 

This superstition likely originated from the rule of Genghis Khan. It was said that the food prepared for him during banquets was special. And that if any of it fell on the floor, it would still be good for anyone to eat.  

Studies on the five-second rule were pioneered in 2003 by Jillian Clarke, a high school intern at the University of Illinois. Though numerous other studies have been conducted, there is still no consensus.

According to some, it depends on numerous factors. You have to take into account the type of food, the cleanliness of the floor, or whether the floor and the food are wet or dry. Though quickly picking up food can lessen chances of contamination, it does not guarantee safety from bacteria.

To stay on the safe side, just wash it before eating, if applicable. Or else, simply throw it out. Be cautious of Filipino health pamahiins related to food because you can seriously get sick if not careful.


From the Spanish word “espasmo,” which means spasm, “pasma” is said to be a condition unique to Filipino culture. Symptoms of being “pasmado,” include sweaty palms, occasional hand tremors, numbness, and pain in the hands.

Though no medical explanation has been made as to the origins of this particular Filipino health pamahiins, many Filipinos still believe it to be true. According to Filipino anthropologist Dr. Michael L. Tan, pasma is believed to be caused by a sudden exposure to “cold,” while in the state of being “hot.” For instance, pasma can be caused by engaging in strenuous (“hot”) activity and then taking a shower after (“cold”). 

According to medical professionals, the truth about pasma is that it can be a symptom of an underlying condition, like diabetes mellitus and thyroid dysfunction. Meanwhile, others say it can be rooted in a neurological problem. If you experience pasma and are concerned, it is best to consult a doctor. 

Stopping Hiccups with Thread and Some Saliva

Probably one of the strangest Filipino health pamahiins is how some Filipinos believe that putting a small piece of thread with saliva on a person’s forehead can stop hiccups. The origins of this tradition can not be traced back, and there is no scientific evidence that supports this practice.

Hiccups are “involuntary contractions of the diaphragm,” and the spasms are said to help the intestines release trapped air, or to help push down food to the stomach. Sudden bouts of hiccups are usually triggered by various factors, including eating too much or too quickly, getting too excited, feeling nervous, drinking carbonated or alcoholic beverages, and being stressed. 

Hiccups should go away on their own after a few minutes. Some experts believe they can be remedied by holding your breath or drinking a glass of water. If hiccups persist for more than three hours, schedule an appointment with your physician for proper diagnosis and medication. 

Sleeping with Wet Hair Will Make You Go Blind

Have you heard of this; one of the popular Filipino health pamahiins. If you have ever taken a shower at the end of a long day, you have probably remembered your mother saying: “You must dry your hair before sleeping or else you will go blind.” 

Although science says there are risks to sleeping with wet hair, you will not go blind if you do. However, others have shared that sleeping with cold, wet hair may cause colds, allergy, and asthma.

According to Dr. Schaffner of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, there is no evidence of people sleeping with wet hair and developing allergy or asthma symptoms. As colds are caused by viruses, it is highly unlikely that you may have also contracted one from sleeping with wet hair. 

However, sleeping with wet hair can cause hair damage. Hair is most fragile when wet, and this makes your hair more susceptible to tangling. To address this, you can choose to dry your hair first before heading to bed. 

Key Takeaways

The effectiveness of these Filipino health pamahiins may be more anecdotal rather than based on science. Always exercise good judgment when following Filipino health pamahiins, especially if you have a medical condition. Consult your doctor. 

Learn more about General Health Knowledge here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Martha Juco, MD


Written by Kristel Lagorza · Updated Jul 25, 2022

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