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7 Strategies to Live a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

Keeping your heart healthy is something you can work on every day. When you choose healthy behaviors, you can lower your heart disease risk while also preventing other serious chronic conditions like Type 2 Diabetes and some types of cancer.
Here are 7 tips to get you started: 

Learn your health history

Know your risks and talk to your family and doctor about your health history.

Eat a healthy diet

Make healthy food choices like more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. Eat less salt, saturated fat, and added sugar.

Move more, sit less

Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week, plus muscle-strengthening activities at least 2 days a week.

Quit smoking

Smoking can decrease blood flow throughout your body and lead to high blood pressure.

Take medicines as directed

If you take medicine to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Always ask questions if the information is unclear. 

Rethink your drink

Substitute water for sugary drinks to reduce calories. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation by limiting consumption to no more than 1 drink a day for women (2 for men) on days that alcohol is consumed.

Monitor your blood pressure at home

Self-measured blood pressure monitors are easy and safe to use, and your doctor can show you how to use one if you need help.

Chronic Disease, Heart Health by NCCDPHP, CDC

A variety of colorful fruits and vegetables in gray table.

Nutrients that Support Immune Function

Getting enough nutrients from food and supplements is vital for the health and function of the immune cells. These nutrients help the immune system in several ways: working as an antioxidant to protect healthy cells, supporting growth and activity of immune cells, and producing antibodies.

Studies show that those who are poorly nourished are at a greater risk of bacterial, viral, and other infections.

Learn more about how key nutrients support immune function.

1. Vitamin C – stimulates the formation of antibodies and the activity of white blood cells

2. Iron – a component of enzymes critical for immune cell function.

3. Vitamin A – helps protect against infections by keeping skin and other body tissues healthy.

4. Vitamin D – helps regulate antimicrobial proteins that can directly kill pathogens.

5. Vitamin E – protects the integrity of cell membranes.

6. Zinc – needed for wound healing and supports immune response.


Support your immune function with good nutrition, by Mayo Clinic.

Nutrition and Immunity, Harvard Education

Man wearing blue cashmere, holding belly.

Preventing Gassy Abdominal Pain due to Belching and Bloating

Swallowed air accumulating in the stomach can either move up and lead to belching or move into the small intestine and pass out as rectal gas (flatus).

Meanwhile, bloating refers to the uncomfortable sense of fullness in the upper abdomen. This can be due to the accumulation of gas and/or undigested food in the digestive tract. Gas that accumulates in the digestive tract can result in abdominal pain which may also radiate up to the chest. 

Here are some tips to prevent accumulation of unwanted gas in the abdomen that may lead to belching and/or bloating:

1. Avoid intake of carbonated beverages such as soda and beer.

2. Avoid intake of cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, beans, and bran; these vegetables contain difficult to digest carbohydrates which are converted by the gut bacteria to gas.

3. If you are lactose intolerant, intake of milk and other dairy foods should be avoided; non-dairy alternatives such as soy or almond milk may be taken instead.

4. Avoid sugar-free chewing gum or hard candies; these food items may contain mannitol or sorbitol as sweeteners which can cause flatulence.

5. Keep a symptom diary to track down and eliminate the food items that could be triggering your belching and bloating.

6. If weak abdominal muscles are suspected as a possible cause of abdominal distension, abdominal-tensing exercises may be helpful.

If symptoms fail to adequately respond to the non-medical strategies mentioned above, a consultation with your doctor should be sought for prompt diagnosis and management with appropriate medications.

Drugs such as simethicone with digestive enzyme preparations, charcoal tablets, prokinetics, antispasmodics and antibiotics may also be considered depending on the assessment of your doctor.


Modi, R and Levitt, M. Belching, bloating, and flatulence. American College of Gastroenterology. July 2013.


No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor.

Man holding left leg wearing gray running shoes.

Tips to Avoid Leg Cramps

The sudden, involuntary, and intense muscle pains affecting your calf, foot or thigh are what we refer to as leg cramps. Sometimes the cramp may cause your leg to spasm or tighten uncontrollably.

Although leg cramps can strike at any time, they become more common as people age. Among people over 60, almost half report having leg cramps, while about a third say they are awakened by cramps at night, and 15% report weekly episodes.

Here are some tips to prevent painful episodes of leg cramps:

1. Exercise your legs.

2. Stretch your muscles before and after you exercise to improve flexibility.

3. Stay hydrated; drink 6-8 glasses of water each day and don’t take in as much alcohol and caffeine.

4. Sleep in a proper position; use pillows to keep your toes pointed upwards if you sleep on your back, or if you lie on your front, try hanging your feet over the end of the bed.

5. Gently stretch your leg muscles before you go to sleep.

6. Keep blankets and sheets loose around your feet so that your toes are not distorted.

7. Wear shoes that fit you well and support your feet.

8. Consider taking daily Vitamin B complex; studies suggest that taking a capsule daily containing B vitamins may prevent cramps. 

If your leg cramps persist despite the strategies above, a consultation with your doctor should be sought so that your condition will be promptly managed with appropriate medications.


Is there hope for leg cramp sufferers? Harvard Health Publishing. 14 February 2017

Leg cramps. Cleveland Clinic. 3 August 2020


No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor.

Healthy foods and white beans on gray table.

The Importance of Micronutrients

Micronutrients, often referred to as vitamins and minerals, are vital to the healthy development of the body, well-being, and disease prevention. However, not everyone manages to eat a healthy diet. Dietary supplementation can play an important role when nutritional requirements are not met through diet alone.

Though micronutrients are only needed by the body in small amounts, their impact on our health is critical. Therefore, regularly taking the recommended amount is important. Failing to maintain even those small quantities required by the body may cause severe and even life-threatening conditions.

Some of the functions of essential micronutrients are outlined below:

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is important for normal brain development and for keeping the nervous and immune systems healthy.


Iron is the essential component of hemoglobin, the compound which allows red blood cells to deliver oxygen to the different parts of the body.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A supports healthy eyesight, skin, and immune system functions.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important in building strong bones by helping the body absorb calcium.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C plays a role in wound healing and controlling infections. It is a powerful antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals that are harmful to the body.

Vitamin E

Its main role is to act as an antioxidant, scavenging “free radicals” that can damage body cells. Vitamin E also enhances the immune function and prevents clots from forming in the arteries.


Zinc promotes immune system functions and helps the body resist infectious diseases including diarrhea and pneumonia.


Woman wearing a white sando taking a vitamin pill, smiling.

4 Vitamins to Take Note of for a Healthy Skin

Taking care of your skin should be an essential part of your health regimen.

Our skin needs the right balance of nutrients to do its main job as a barrier that protects the rest of our body. To help keep our skin looking good from the outside, we should feed it well from the inside. 

It is essential that we take right vitamins to supplement our diet as good skin care starts with proper nutrition.

Below are four vitamins to take note of for a healthy and glowing skin.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D, commonly called the sunshine vitamin, is a fat-soluble vitamin essential in the absorption of calcium, magnesium, and phosphate. When our skin absorbs sunlight, cholesterol is converted to Vitamin D.

It is then taken up by our liver and kidneys and transported throughout the body to make healthy cells. This includes the skin, where Vitamin D plays an important role in skin tone.

Vitamin C

Also known as ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin naturally found in fruits and vegetables.

The antioxidant properties of Vitamin C and its role in collagen synthesis make Vitamin C vital for skin health.  Potential benefits from this nutrient include diminishing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as making the skin look youthful and plump. Adding Vitamin C to your health regimen will not only brighten your complexion but will also protect you against skin damage caused by sun exposure and free radicals. 

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient with potent antioxidant properties. Vitamin E helps support the immune system, and skin health. It is also beneficial in reducing skin damage from ultraviolet light, pollution, and free radicals. 

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin required in the proper development and functioning of our skin, eyes, respiratory tract, immune system, and other parts of the body. Vitamin A stimulates the production and maturation of new cells. This is particularly important for the skin which constantly needs to replace the dead cells it sheds away.

Vitamin A is also known for its antioxidant properties that serve to protect the skin from pollutants and free radicals.


Getting the right vitamins

Harvard education listing of vitamins: August 31, 2020

Smiling lady with braces pointing her mouth.

Practical Pointers for Mouth Sores

Sores or irritations in the mouth, gums, tongue or lips could cause pain and discomfort specially when eating and talking. Though some sores may resolve on their own, some cases need careful attention as they could indicate viral, fungal or bacterial infections, trauma, dehydration, allergy or nutritional deficiencies.

Here are some pointers on how to deal with mouth sores:

1. Boost your immune system by having adequate rest, sleep, exercise and balanced diet.

2. Take supplements containing B Vitamins, Zinc and Iron, as deficiency of any of these nutrients could cause sores in your mouth.

3. Practice oral hygiene. Use soft bristled toothbrush to gently clean your teeth. You may also use gentle oral gargles and mouth rinse.

4. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.

5. Avoid spicy food, and acidic fruits and juices that may irritate the tissues of the mouth and aggravate the pain.

6. Use mouth sprays containing propolis. Propolis is a naturally-sourced substance which helps soothe the inflamed area and reduce pain and inflammation.

7. Avoid cigarette smoking and heavy alcohol drinking 

For persisting or worsening symptoms, it is always best to consult your doctor as some sores could indicate an underlying health condition that would warrant medical treatment.

Beeswax and wooden spoon.

Beating Oral Infections with Bee-sourced Propolis

A dry, scratchy, or painful throat could be one of the disturbing sensations some may feel during this global pandemic.  A sore throat, which could be a flag for an onset of flu, is one of the most common ailments that affect people and is often associated with bacterial or viral infection, change in weather conditions, intake of certain foods or exposure to air pollutants. Sore throat is listed as one of the very first complaints felt by those who had the new coronavirus disease or COVID-19.  Given the serious threat of COVID- 19 to health, everyone gets so mindful of any discomfort affecting the oral cavity while trying to anticipate anything that could indicate an infection.

Going Natural

Many respiratory illnesses usually start from the mouth, which makes oral health care a paramount concern of everyone.  Nowadays, one’s hygiene regimen involves enormous attention to the care of the mouth and throat.  While there are numerous medicines and chemical-laced antiseptics recommended for oral infections, no one could go wrong in turning to nature’s produce to avoid such illnesses. 

An age-old plant-derived substance that has, for thousands of years, been used widely as food supplement and has been recently propelled to the front-line of oral care is Propolis, nicknamed “bee glue”.  Propolis, a resin or wax-like substance gathered by honeybees from plants, is a complex mixture of numerous substances known to deliver multiple health benefits.  Since the times of ancient Egyptians and Romans, the compound Propolis has been applied to heal sores in the oral cavity due to its recognized anti-bacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Some bioactive substances in propolis such as the flavonoids pinocembrin, galangin, and caffeic acid phenylester make it multifunctional in promoting oral health and in protecting the mouth and throat from infections.  Being a substance produced by bees from plants, propolis oral spray is as natural as it could be in protecting the oral cavity against infections.

In March 2020, the need to administer natural products that deliver antiviral activity for the protection against the SARS-COV-2 was underlined by Seif Salah Mohamed, an immunologist from Alexandria University in Egypt.  “Finding a potential natural agent may help in mitigating the impact of COVID-19 global threat,” said Mohamed.

Antimicrobial and Healing Properties

The oral cavity is a home to a great number of bacteria that are only waiting for the opportunity to cause infection when the body’s immune system becomes weak or when there are breaks in tissue barriers.  Propolis generally works against a broad range of gram positive and gram-negative bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

In a 2019 review done by microbiologists Izabela Przybylek and Tomasz Karpinski, which looked at the influence of propolis on more than 600 bacterial strains, it was found that a wide range of bacteria are susceptible to propolis extracts including the leading cause of bacterial throat infection, Streptococcus pyogenes, as well as other disease-causing bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, S. mutans and S. pneumoniae. 

In terms of antiviral activity, propolis has also been found to inhibit viruses as shown in a 1990 study led by microbiologist Maurizia Debiaggi wherein viral replication and infectivity of Herpes Simplex Virus 1, Herpes Simplex Virus 2, TK Herpes Virus, and Human Adenovirus were inhibited by specific propolis flavonoid components like quercetin and chrysin.

Recognizing the ability of locally applied propolis to beat mouth infections, dentists Dr. Mahboobe Dehgani and his team did a study in 2019. Results showed that naturally derived propolis and the chemical antiseptic chlorhexidine led to equivalent improvements on dental plaque, gum and periodontal status hence making propolis an appropriate alternative without the unpleasant effects of chlorhexidine.

Additionally, propolis also helps in reducing pain and healing wounded tissues including that of the throat.  In a 2018 study by otorhinolaryngologists led by Dr. Jeong Hwan Moon of South Korea, patients treated with propolis-based gargles after tonsil surgery had significantly less pain and had better wound healing compared to those using plain water gargles.

In many parts of the world, Propolis based oral spray is commonly used to relieve pain, to soothe sore and irritated throat, to reduce oral cavity irritations, stomatitis, gingivitis, and other various periodontal diseases as well.

Boosting the Body’s Immune Defense 

The body’s immune system is responsible for its defense against foreign invaders such as bacteria, viruses and fungi that cause infections.  Very recently in May 2020, a group of researchers led by Mohammed Iddir published a study wherein they wrote: “It should be noted that a close relationship between inflammation and oxidative stress exists.  High production of free radicals at the site of infection by immune cells such as macrophages, triggers oxidative stress.”8  Protection from the damaging effects of these free radicals can be afforded by antioxidants.  Propolis, owing to its polyphenol and flavonoid contents, is recognized for its potent antioxidant activity.  In a 2019 study published in Nutrients, Dr. Andrea Braakhuis shared: “The antioxidant activity of propolis and its constituents has been well documented, with the vast majority of outcomes demonstrating a reduction in oxidative stress markers.”

Because it is naturally derived from plants, propolis is generally safe.  Although there are some reports of hypersensitivity or allergic reactions from propolis, particularly in people who are allergic to bees or bee products, propolis and its constituents are generally well tolerated.

Although propolis is yet to be considered as a definitive treatment for mouth and throat infections, propolis may indeed be considered as a natural means to keep the mouth and throat protected from infections. 


Braakhuis A. Evidence on the Health Benefits of Supplemental Propolis. Nutrients. 2019;11(11):2705. Published 2019 Nov 8. doi:10.3390/nu11112705
Smiling lady holding a smiley emoji wearing mustard long sleeve.

Better Mood with B-Vitamins: B1, B6 and B12

It is widely known that a person’s mood and emotional state are results of situational factors and bodily processes involving elements such as hormones, neurotransmitters, and nutrients. The nutrients Vitamins B1, B6 and B12 have been found to play key roles in keeping a healthy mood as explained by the following:

1. Vitamin B1 keeps the brain active and energized  

The brain is considered a metabolically active organ accounting for over 20% of the body’s total energy expenditure. The brain is selective when it comes to its source of energy as it almost exclusively relies on glucose obtained from the carbohydrates that are consumed. The process of converting glucose into energy essentially requires Vitamin B1 or Thiamine.  This makes Vitamin B1 a crucial nutrient to keep the brains energized by allowing the conversion of glucose into energy.

2. Vitamin B6 helps the brain to synthesize the neurotransmitters, the brain chemicals responsible for one’s mood and mental function

Neurotransmitters are chemical substances made by the brain that exert an influence over mood and mental function. Vitamin B6 or Pyridoxine contributes to a healthy brain function by being an essential cofactor in the production of a number of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), noradrenaline and melatonin. Dopamine plays a role in reactions involved on how pleasure is felt while serotonin contributes to feelings of well-being. GABA is the brain’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter and appropriate levels are needed to regulate or calm brain activity and to help reduce anxiety. Noradrenaline helps in coping with stress and in becoming active while melatonin is important in maintaining a healthy sleep-wake cycle. 

3. Vitamins B6 and B12 help clear away metabolic by-products linked with depression

Whenever the body processes or metabolizes protein, it produces a substance known as homocysteine. Homocysteine accumulation has been linked to the development of depression. It was reported that up to 30% of depressed patients were found to have elevated homocysteine levels. Thankfully, the body is able to naturally clear away homocysteine through reactions involving Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) and Vitamins B12 (Cobalamin). Maintaining healthy levels of Vitamins B6 and B12 may therefore be seen as a way to prevent homocysteine buildup. 

4. Deficiencies of B vitamins have been associated with the development of mood problems

Seeing that these B vitamins play numerous roles in keeping a healthy mood, it is no surprise that deficiencies of these B vitamins may lead to mood disorders. The Women’s Health and Aging Study done in 2000 resulted in findings that women with B12 deficiency had twice the risk of severe depression. In another study done in 2008 among older Korean people, it was reported that lower levels of vitamin B12 at baseline were associated with a higher risk of developing depression in 2-3 years. More recently, a study done in 2020 among Japanese yielded the outcome that in middle-aged and elderly women, moderate-to-severe depressive symptoms were associated with a lower dietary intake of vitamin B6.

5. Supplementation with B vitamins has been suggested to support a healthy mood and mental well-being

The results of studies on B-vitamin supplementation to reduce the risk of developing mood disorders have been promising.  In a study done in 2010 on 35,053 older adults in the US, it was found out that higher intakes of Vitamin B6 and B12 were associated with a lower risk of developing depressive symptoms by an average of 7.2 years. In another clinical trial done in 2011, participants treated with vitamin B complex for 3 months were found to experience lower levels of perceived personal strain and sad mood compared to those who were not given vitamin B complex. 

Vitamins B1, B6 and B12 play numerous key roles in the different brain processes responsible for one’s mood, ranging from generating energy, synthesizing neurotransmitters, and even clearance of harmful substances.

Deficiencies of these vitamins have been linked to mood problems, while supplementation have been found to be supportive of a healthy mood. Click here to learn more about Polynerv 1000.

For individuals feeling symptoms of depression, it is always best to seek professional help or to consult a doctor.


Young LM et al. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of B Vitamin Supplementation on Depressive Symptoms, Anxiety, and Stress Effects on Healthy and ‘At-Risk’ Individuals. Nutrients. 2019;11(9):2232. Published 2019 Sep 16. doi:10.3390/nu11092232

Stough C et al. The effect of 90 day administration of a high dose vitamin B-complex on work stress Hum Psychopharmacol. 2011;26(7):470-476. doi:10.1002/hup.1229

Kennedy DO. B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy -A Review. Nutrients. 2016;8(2):68. Published 2016 Jan 27.doi:10.3390/nu8020068

Seppälä J et al. Association between vitamin b12 levels and melancholic depressive symptoms a Finnish population-based study. BMC Psychiatry. 2013;13:145. Published 2013 May 24. doi:10.1186/1471-244X-13-145

Sangle P et al. Vitamin B12 Supplementation: Preventing Onset and Improving Prognosis of Depression Cureus. 2020;12(10):e11169. Published 2020 Oct 26. doi:10.7759/cureus.11169

Man holding his chest with his two hands.

How Do You Know if it is Heartburn and Not a Heart Attack?

How do you know if it is heartburn and not a heart attack?

Did you ever have a painful sensation in the center of your chest during a regular after-dinner walk around the house or backyard? It could be your heartburn flaring up again or it may be something more serious like a heart attack.

Heartburn and a heart attack may have similar manifestations on the chest and their symptoms may sometimes be difficult to differentiate.

Heartburn is a common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), often called acid reflux. This makes acid from the stomach move up into the esophagus, causing a painful burning sensation just behind the breastbone. Not surprisingly, heart attack may also present with a discomfort in the same area. In the emergency room alone, heartburn accounts for nearly half the cases in which actual heart problems are ruled out according to a study by Mousavi et al. in 2007.

Chest pain caused by a heart attack result from reduced blood flow from the heart muscles and is often described as a feeling of tightness, constriction or pressure rather than a burning sensation. But it is not always easy to tell the difference.

The symptoms of heartburn may mimic those of a heart attack. Here are the common symptoms that differentiate heartburn from a heart attack:


• Burning chest pain that begins at the breastbone
• Pain that moves up toward the throat
• Pain or discomfort that does not typically radiate to the shoulders, neck or arms
• Sensation that food is coming back into the mouth
• Bitter or acidic taste at the back of the throat
• Pain that worsens when lying down or bending over
• The appearance of symptoms after a heavy or spicy meal

Heart attack

• Tightness, pressure, squeezing, stabbing or dull pain most often in the center of the chest
• Pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck or arms
• Irregular or rapid heartbeat
• Cold sweat or clammy skin
• Lightheadedness, weakness or dizziness
• Shortness of breath
• Nausea, indigestion and sometimes vomiting
• Symptoms are associated with physical exertion, extremes of emotions or stress

The treatment of the two conditions are entirely different. For heartburn, doctors may prescribe antacids and acid-suppressing drugs such as omeprazole and pantoprazole. 

For symptoms of a possible heart attack, immediate consult at the emergency room is necessary for prompt management. If you have symptoms and you are not sure as to what they are associated with, seek emergency medical consult especially if you feel chest tightness, have trouble breathing, have cold clammy perspiration or cold sweat, have a feeling of light headedness and there is body weakness, sudden dizziness, fatigue, paleness and pain in your chest or arm that may extend to your neck or jaw.

Always consult a doctor who can best tell you if your symptoms are caused by heartburn or a heart attack.


Role of clinical presentation in diagnosing reflux-related non-cardiac chest pain.

Heartburn vs heart attack