Spices for Health
Athletes in ancient times chewed a clove of garlic before the start of Olympic games. It is a natural antiseptic and its essence kills germs. A crust of bread rubbed with garlic according to many Arabs will eleminate the common pinworm from young children. Furthermore, it is said to combat diabetes and be helpful in cases of high blood pressure.
Green aniseed was widely used in ancient Chinese medicine; it counteracts the problem of indigestion, drowsiness, migraine and dizziness.
Jer-fah ~ Cinnamon: Improves the Circulation
This spice without which pastillas would not be pastillas, is considered an almost universal remedy by many Asians.
Cardamom is the fruit of the southeast Asian tree which bears the complicated name of ‘electarria cardamom much’. It is well known to English physiotherapist who use it in a powdered form to aid digestion. Its medicinal qualities are cineol, both of which stimulate the digestive system.
Lee-mon ~ Lemon: Calms Stomach Burn
Lemons are well known for their citric acid content. But they can also help relieve stomach burn and there is a scientific explanation for this. Stomach burn is the result of excessive secretions of gastric juices or, to be more specific, of hydrochloric acid. The stomach is the simple organ which can easily mistake one acid for another. When it is presented with the citric acid of the lemon, it takes this for hydrochloric acid and stops its own secretions. As citric acid is for less harsh, the pains stop too.
In some hot countries, raw meat is preserved by rubbing with mixture of coriander seeds, salt and black pepper.
Cumin is the first cousin of aniseed and has an essence which stimulates the digestion and counteracts the fermentation of foodstuffs, particularly starchy foods – cakes flavoured with cumin are always easily digested.
Curcum ~ Turmeric: Beneficial to the Gall Bladder
This plant is native to India and is used in the preparation of curry powder, known throughout Asia for its therapeutic qualities. Indian doctors recommend it in particular to clean out blocked gall bladders.
Fenugreek was recommended for convalescents in classical times by Cato and has been used for centuries in the East by women who wanted to put on weight. Its seeds have been studied by many scholars throughout the centuries and today, thanks to the physicist Mignot, we know that they not only contain a rich oil with properties similar to those of cod liver oil, but also a fermenting agent which helps with the assimilation of sugars.
Zan-ja-beel ~ Ginger: Therapeutic Qualities
The ginger root owes its principal therapeutic qualities to its essence which also gived it a bitter, peppery taste.
Mis-mar ~ Cloves: Kills Germs
This subtle spice from the South Sea islands contains a powerful disinfectant, eugenol. It was at the beginning of the century that an American surgeon Professor Briggs, who later became famous, discovered that the clove was one of the most potent of natural antiseptics.
Jowit-iteeb ~ Nutmeg: Checks Drowsiness After Meals
Nutmeg and its outer skin known as mace, have the same properties. Both certain a slightly bitter essence which helps with the digestion of heavy meals, particularly starches. The skin, like the nut itself, contains a natural hormone related to folliculin which helps regulate monthly periods. Nutmeg and mace both sweeten the breath.
El-bussell ~ Onion: A Universal Remedy
Onion is said to prolong life and indeed the many centenarians in Bulgaria attribute long life to onion and yoghurt. This however has not been proven, but what is certain is that the onions contain glucoquinione which is related to insulin. Both reduce the sugar content of the blood which makes them particularly good for diabetics.
Arabic gum is the extract of the acacia tree. It is used in the preparation of many cough medicines and calms the irritation of the mucous membranes in the throat. It may to some extent help cure a cold or ‘tickly’ throat more quickly.
There are over 10 spices of mint in the world and all have the same properties which stem from their essence, menthol, although the flavour may differ with each.
Za-toon ~ Olives: Helps The Gall Bladder
Both green and black olives reduce bile and experiments carried out in hospitals have shown that they may even help dissolve gravel and small gall stones. Contaning mineral counteract colitis and are also said to stimulate lazy intestines.
Mye-al-zahr ~ Orange Flower Water: See Life Through Rose-Coloured Spectacles
This is the best and healthiest of all transquilisers. Rose water helps to banich anxiety and counteract all its related symptoms. It calms hearts easily disturbed by the slightest of emotions and induces sleep for insomniacs.
Bag-doonas ~ Parsley: Stimulates Growth In Children
This humble little plant is in reality a potent tonic. Twenty grams of parsley a day (the equivalent of a tablespoon) provides the organism with 48mg of vitamin C, more than half the daily dose required to combat infectious diseases.
Fil-fil har ~ Hot Pepper: Helps Digestion
Like all hot spices, hot pepper or harissa is an instant stimulant of the digestive glands. A couscous served with sharp souce is more readily digested than a couscous bathed in an insipid one. However, hot pepper in large quantities can irritate the mucous membranes ~ avoid excessive amounts or risk stomach burn.
Fil-fil aswad ~ Black Pepper: Helps Digestion
Black Pepper has exactly the same virtues as hot pepper, it helps digestion but has the disadvantage of congesting the blood vessels. Those suffering from varicose veins or haemorrhoids should avoid its use or expect painful results.
Ward ~ Rose Petals: For Those In Poor Health
History relates that the famous mediaeval Arab doctor, Avicenna, cured the Viceroy of Portugal’s wife of tuberculosis with the help of rose petals.
Sim-sim ~ Sesame: Gives A Flat Stomach
Sesame contains a essence which counteracts the fermentation of foodstuffs in the stomach and intestines. It helps reduce wind, distended stomachs and flights against drowsiness.
Zaffron ~ Saffron: Helps Food Become More Digestible
With its penetrating aroma, saffron stimulates the sliva glands and it is said to help digestion, particularly of starches.
Za-tar ~ Thyme: Helps CirculationIf ever there was a plant with 100 virtues, it is thyme. It acts as a tonic which counteracts circulation deficiencies and their relevants problems such as vertigo, migraine, humming in the ear and swollen limbs. It also combats weaknesses in the nervous system and helps restore energy to the listless. Finally, it stimulates the digestion.
Thyme is also recognised as one of the best germicides, thanks to its essence, thymol which was recognised as a natural antibiotic in the past. When there was an epidemic, people consumed thyme in large quantities. From boils to typhoid fever, I can’t think of any single bacteria infection which cannot be relieved by it, and it is not just the thymol which offers such incredible properties. Indeed, an Italian doctor, Dr. Nosi, has recently discovered that thyme possesses an unusual and individual property – it favours the production of white blood corpuscles. When the organisms are threatened by bacteria, it is the white corpuscles which mobilise to destroy and devour them.
From the book “The Complete United Arab Emirates Cookbook”
Copyright © 1997 by Fahad Inc.
Maintained by: Fahad Al Mahmood