Alcoholic beverages can counter lambanog poisoning: Duque

MANILA — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said drinking another alcohol is the antidote for lambanog poisoning.

In a television interview Monday night, Duque explained it is not the methanol in lambanog that causes the poisoning and death among its drinkers but its by-product called formic acid.

“Ang process of distillation sa paglikha ng alocohol, iyong unang patak na nalikha ay methanol, iyon ang dapat mong ihinihiwalay, itinatapon bago pa ito maging (The process of distillation in alcohol creation, the first drop formed is methanol, it must be separated, disposed before it becomes) formic acid,” he said.

When a person drinks high levels of methanol, it converts to formaldehyde until it becomes formic acid and poison. It attacks the internal organs like kidneys, liver, brain and nervous system until the person dies.

Duque stressed that sugar is not a proven antidote to this type of poisoning as claimed by one of the lambanog drinkers who survived it.

“Painumin mo din ng alcohol iyong ethanol, iyong usual alcoholic beverage para maibsan ang conversion ng methanol into formic acid o pamumuo ng lason (Let the person drink ethanol, the usual alcoholic beverage to relieve the conversion of methanol into formic acid or formation of poison),” he said.

Meanwhile, Food and Drug Administration Field Operations Officer-in-Charge Emilio Polig Jr. said the methanol content found in the lambanog that killed around nine drinkers in Antipolo, Bulacan and Laguna last week have methanol content higher than the acceptable 0.1 percent.

“Ang nasa Santa Rosa is 16 percent where as ang nasa Calamba may 6.5, 6.6 at 8.9 percent na methanol content na nakita (Those in Santa Rosa is 16 percent where as those in Calamba may 6.5, 6.6 and 8.9 percent with methanol content found),” he said.

FDA was able to track the source of lambanog in Laguna but it is unable to determine if they all came from one source. The authorities have an ongoing investigation on it.

Polig warned the public against the dangers of flame test or using a lighter to test the methanol content in lambanog.

“Hindi po iyon ang tama o scientific na pamamaraan, maaari pang ma-injure ang gagawa niyan kasi sasabog. Ang tamang paraan parin ay i-subject ito sa (It is not the right or scientific way, the one who would do that could be injured as it might explode. The correct method is to subject it to) laboratory testing,” he said. Ma. Teresa Montemayor/