The Scent of Jasmine

Jasmine is a popular plant with wonderfully fragrant flowers. It’s native to the warmer parts of Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, the Far East and Oceania. The white or yellow flowers have some uses in medicine and aromatherapy, particularly in South Asia and China. There are more than 200 species of jasmine, including both […]

Theriacs and Snake Bites

Theriacs were medicinal concoctions developed by the ancient Greeks (or even earlier) and used to treat toxic snake bites, scorpion stings and other poisonous contacts with animals. Theriacs (from the Greek thēriakē, “pertaining to animals”) often consisted of dozens of herbal ingredients and other substances mixed together and fermented over months. They were applied to […]

Dandelions in the Middle East

Dandelion is a powerful herbal medicine. You don’t hear much about its use in the Arabian Peninsula these days, but it was once highly regarded by the great Muslim physicians of the Middle Ages. Its Latin name “Taraxacum” derives from medieval Persian writings on pharmacy, and was known to the Arabs as “tarashaquq.” The Persian […]

Shilajit — Medicinal Ooze

The latest rage on the alternative medicine front is a substance called “shilajit,” an herbal-mineral goo exuded from rocks that supporters say can cure everything from Alzheimer’s disease to bronchitis to diabetes. Shilajit – also known as “mumiyo” – is featured in India’s Ayurvedic medicine and in Graeco-Arabic medicine (Unani-Tibb). It was reportedly favored by […]

Cactus for Your Health?

Caralluma is an Old World cactus that is said to have several important health benefits. Several species are found in the Arabian Peninsula, from northwest Saudi Arabia to Oman. Those species that grow in Arabia look like grayish stones and have a “carrion-like” aroma which attracts flies, aiding in pollination. Caralluma grows in many parts […]