As children, we were taught never to mess with ant hills. If your feet swell or you get feverish, you definitely stepped on the forbidden mound and got cursed by the nuno sa punso.
It’s just logical: you were naughty, and you got what you deserved. Nanay and Lola said so, and they are never wrong.
Growing up, you realize that the feared mound of the unexplained is actually inhabited by termites instead of little old men or dwarves. Disappointing, really. Because that swollen feet and fever might have come from joint aches and not a curse, which burst your bubble a little.
Admit it, knowing that Pardina’s friends and those fun creatures from Inday’s Bote were myths is like knowing the truth about Santa Claus. Bummer.
But then again, it pays to know better. After all, knowledge is power, as Mr. Ernie Baron insisted. So here are ten other health myths that made you a sucker, but perhaps now you know better. Perhaps.
1. First Menstrual Bleeding for Acne-Free Skin.
No wonder we were so angst-y growing up! We were told that our “first menstrual blood” smeared across the face will ensure that we will never have acne problems throughout our adult life. It’s all levels of grossness, yes. But most of us did it anyway (our moms made us!).
The sad fact is, there is no scientific research to support this claim. Acne is caused by hormones and genetics, and no one-time application of menarche will ever make it go away. [Image source: ecobeautysecrets.com]
2. Not Showering for a Whole Week After Giving Birth.
Unless you want to go crazy or get sick, we were told. Unfortunately, this myth (which probably stemmed from postpartum depression) is still held true today and met with defiance from our well-meaning family matrons.
Well, if it were a C-Section, then this could be understandable. But the fact is, under normal delivery, a shower is advised postpartum to relieve some discomfort and promote a mother’s well-being.
3. The Five-Second Rule.
Here’s the premise: Any food you drop on the floor will be bacteria-free and is still consumable IF you retrieve it within five seconds.
Did they actually investigate bacterial content on dropped food by scientific method for this claim? Perhaps we’ll never know. But studies have actually been done with this premise and it’s interesting to note that the adherence of bacteria depends on the floor’s level of contamination.
But really, would you take a chance rather than throw it out kasi wala pang five seconds?
4. Pinching a Newborn’s Nose So It Won’t Be Pango.
As somebody who isn’t blessed with an aquiline nose, I used to resent my mom for apparently disregarding this myth. I thought she probably forgot to pinch my nose from time to time as an infant and I was outraged.
Well, turns out that no pinching in the world could ever rescue my nose, because I got it from my dad (read: genetics). The truth however is, nose pinching in infants can actually do more harm than good.
5. Wounds Acquired On Good Friday Will Take a Long Time to Heal.
That scared the hell out of us as children. We tried our extra best to be on our best behavior on good Fridays lest we get wounds that take forever to heal.
This health myth has more religious than logical roots, which is something we Pinoys take very seriously. However, factors to wound healing does not list good Fridays, so there you go.
6. Offering Your Milk Teeth to Rats So You’d Grow It Back Hard and Strong.
We used to leave our extracted milk teeth outside of rat holes because Lola told us we’d grow stronger, harder teeth in its place.
Of course, it’s ridiculous.
There is absolutely no logical or scientific explanation for this. I learned of this untruth as a girl when I discovered that the house rat refused to collect my teeth after one week of careful watching.
Besides, rats have enough worries about their teeth to bother with ours. [Image source: www.nature.com]
7. Stepping Over a Sleeping Child Will Delay His/Her Growth.
And the only way to reverse this is to step over the child again. By now we know better; no amount of stepping over will turn you into a midget and no reverse stepping over will ever undo our being short.
A study was conducted on Filipino children regarding stunted growth and as expected, this health myth isn’t listed as a factor. [Image source: www.smartparenting.com.ph]
8. Hopping Over Stair Steps to Keep Menstrual Period Short.
If you don’t want your menstrual period to last longer than three days, on your first menstrual bleeding, you’ll need to hop over three stair steps. If you fail to do this, you’ll suffer your period longer than that.
Of course we believed it and hop away we did. No matter how logical this seemed to our Nanays and Lolas, it’s just not a factor that affects menstrual cycles.
9. Grow Taller By Jumping On New Year’s Eve.
Sadly, for those of us who are vertically challenged, this was a New Year tradition until we learned otherwise by remaining short. We were egged on by well-meaning family members to jump like madmen on New Year’s eve just to be taller.
In frustration and exasperation, however, we eventually stopped. Apparently, height is 60-80% genetics and 20-40% nutrition. Yep, New Year jumping gets no credit.
10. Sucking On Your Pricked Finger So Blood Reenters Your Body.
Of course, it will. Just not enough to make it through your circulation. It will not even reach your throat. But we know that blood is vital to life, and in theory, we know it has to be conserved. Hence the health myth of sucking on one’s pricked finger so you don’t waste a drop.
It is interesting to note though, that although harmless in small amounts, ingestion of blood in large amounts is actually more fatal to humans than beneficial unless of course, you’re a vampire.