“I believe that for every illness or ailment known to man, that God has a plant out here that will heal it. We just need to keep discovering the properties for natural healing.” ―
I cannot believe I am writing about herbal supplements. I am officially a tita!
Tita in Filipino means auntie. Your auntie can be your mom’s sister or female cousin. We also call female friends or colleagues of our parents as tita. Sometimes, we use tita as an endearment to a much older female (around our parent’s age) when referring to them and we do not know their name.
These days though, young female adults already consider themselves a tita when they start behaving less of a young adult and more of a middle-aged adult. That includes carrying bags that contain essentials that your younger self normally didn’t bother like tissue, wet wipes, umbrella and, sometimes, a first-aid kit containing medicines and multi-purpose minty liniments. Grocery and household items shopping has also become more exciting than shopping for clothes and shoes at this point.
Another sign that one is turning into a tita is when one starts turning to herbal food supplements for remedy. This is where Lola Remedios and Tolak Angin come in.
Despite being manufactured in Indonesia, Lola Remedios seems to have been made for Filipino consumers. Lola is the Filipino word for grandmother and Remedios used to be a common Spanish name for females. My own maternal grandmother was named Remedios. This Spanish name means “remedies.” Smart branding!
Going back, Lola Remedios was an item I used to see a lot on the pharmacy counters of Watsons and Mercury Drug, but I never paid much attention to it. Sold in sachets in 7-eleven stores as well, I thought it was just one of those alternative medicines that older people would be interested in buying. I saw it a lot two years ago but never thought of buying one because I just never saw the need for it and, frankly speaking, I also thought it was going to taste nasty.
A few months ago though, I suddenly had a high fever after going to the church and the mall. How I suddenly fell ill when I was very healthy that morning was something I could not explain. My mom said it was probably what Filipinos call lamig (literally translates to “coldness”). It’s that sudden feeling of being under the weather or just feeling generally unwell with no telling signs and symptoms to help gauge what has gone wrong with you. For that reason, she gave me a sachet of Lola Remedios to try. I did not expect to love it so much.
Don’t get me wrong. I did not suddenly feel well and it did not get rid of whatever I caught that was making me feel ill. What it did give me were a warming and soothing sensation. The liquid inside the sachet tasted of mint and honey with hints of ginger and other spices. The mint lover in me loved it so much! I knew that it was going to be an awesome herbal supplement to take when one has sore throat and coughing problems because of the minty sensation it leaves the throat.
Around that time as well, I learned that what I used to ignore in the convenience stores and pharmacies is now highly in demand that they always get sold out. It has now become very difficult to get your hands on this supplement and I have come across several people who looked for it as well (and failed to find it). Even a close friend of mine drinks it when she is unwell!
So, when I fell ill two weeks ago (I had a terrible sore throat), I felt sad that there was no Lola Remedios available in all pharmacies near me. I was longing for the minty sensation for my terribly sore throat. Unexpectedly, it led to the discovery of Tolak Angin.
Tolak Angin is another Indonesian product that is very similar to Lola Remedios. The first time I heard its name, I found it very familiar and a tad bit funny. You see, tolak in Indonesian translates to “push.” In Filipino, we say tulak. On the other hand, angin of Indonesia and hangin of the Philippines are the English equivalents of “air.” Thus, Tolak Angin is the literal translation of “to push air.” By air, I think this also refers to lamig.
I decided to give Tolak Angin a try. The first thing I noticed was that it’s mintier and spicier than Lola Remedios. It was so potent that even my clogged nostrils felt like it was getting decongested from within. I had to pour the remaining half of the contents into a glass of warm water because I could not handle how strong it was. It also made me feel warm and it did an awesome job soothing my aching throat.
Luckily for my sister who is based in Hong Kong, we were recently able to buy one box of Lola Remedios from the pharmacy. It was the last box so we didn’t let it go. Mom promised to send my sister some so she can try it out as well. Fortunately for me, I get to compare the two products.
Lola Remedios: Zingiberis officinale rhizome (ginger), Foeniculi fructus (fennel bulbs), Mentha arvensis (wild mint), Mentha piperita (peppermint), Helicteres isorae fructus (Indian screw tree), Syzygium aromaticum folium (clove), Sucrose (table sugar), Mel Depuratum (honey), Palm sugar, and Purified Water
Tolak Angin: Honey, Asian rice, Fennel, Indian screw tree, Clove, Mint, Ginger, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Indonesian Cinnamon, Gotu Kola, Tree Bean, Usnea, Emulsifier (E 435 and E 471), Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate
No wonder Tolak Angin was more potent! Look at all the other spices in it!
Lola Remedios seems more natural though because it does not contain emulsifiers and food additives.
Looking at nutrition information though, Lola Remedios has more sugars, explaining why it was very sweet despite the spices in it.
Both products come in 15ml sachets and 12 sachets per box. For some reason though, Tolak Angin feels a tiny bit heavier.
Both packagings show their FDA registration. Still, both explicitly state that there are no approved therapeutic claims for these products.
Lola Remedios shows manufacturing and expiry dates. Seems like it’s good for two years from manufacturing date. On the other hand, Tolak Angin only shows the expiry date. I wonder when the batch of my box was made.
Lola Remedios: PT.Kino Indonesia, Tbk
I strongly feel that there’s no Indonesian version of this drink and that it was made especially for Filipinos. I cannot find any version of it from the manufacturer’s website.
I cannot find an English website but I did come across some information about the business. It appears this is a family-owned business that goes back decades. I also came across its history on YouTube.
Whether Tolak Angin is the first of its kind, I am not sure. What I found out though was that our famous boxer, Manny Pacquiao, endorsed this product way back 2016.
[Update: 01-May-19 – I just discovered that Tolak Angin has a Philippine website already. Perhaps it was created by the Philippine distributor of the product.]
Anyway, regardless of which came to the Philippines first, I liked both products. While I feel I’d reach for Lola Remedios more because it is not as spicy, I would not mind taking Tolak Angin as an alternative or when I am more ill than usual.
Will I take these herbal supplements as a replacement for doctor-prescribed medicines? No, I don’t think so. Still, they are nice to have around for when I want some quick relief from lamig.
Damn, I really have turned into a tita… Hahaha…
If you want to read about my experience mixing Lola Remedios in white tea, click here.