Herbs and plants have been utilised to cure medical issues ever since the start of humanity, with evidence of ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians adopting plant-based remedies to heal the ill thousands of years before the introduction
of modern medicine.
In fact, findings from archaeological sites indicate that humans may have been using plants as medicine as early as 60,000 years ago.
The Sumerians utilised herbs as medicine as early as 3000 BCE, according to archaeological evidence. A clay cuneiform tablet recovered in 1960 has herbal remedy prescriptions etched on it.
In Egypt's Ebers Papyrus from 1500 BC, which describes the use of the aloe vera plant to treat skin conditions and mentions honey's antibacterial characteristics.
In the eighth century, Baghdad saw the establishment of the first pharmacy, which sold herbal remedies as teas, ointments, and syrups.
Although prehistoric and ancient peoples might not have understood the mechanisms, there is sufficient evidence to show that such therapies may have been useful treatments.
Today, almost 40% of medications contain active compounds that were first discovered in plants, and millions of people utilise herbs and plants in their natural state to cure conditions as diverse as arthritis and colds.
Here are seven ingredients that have been utilised for millennia.
The black seed is coarser than the poppy seed and has a unique peppery flavour that can burn the lips.
The Prophet Muhammad is purported to have claimed that the seed, known in Arabic as habbat al-barakah, was a solution for all ailments with the exception of death. Tutankhamun's tomb included a stockpile, indicating that the ancient Egyptians were also aware of its therapeutic benefits.
Ibn Sina, a physician from the 10th century who is known as Avicenna in Europe, explained that the seed functioned as an expectorant, or a drug that decongests by drawing out mucus and therefore freeing the body of obstructions.
The Middle Eastern native plant's seeds are said to improve digestion, immunity, and act as a traditional treatment for respiratory ailments.
Most people are familiar with the chamomile flower, or babounej in Arabic, for its usage in teas that are supposed to reduce tension and help people unwind before going to sleep.
It also possesses anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antispasmodic characteristics that can be used to treat cold and digestive symptoms, so it appears to be capable of more than just making you feel rested.
The plant is indigenous to regions of Europe and the Middle East, and ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian literature all mention its use.
The spleen, liver, and stomach were said to benefit by using the flower as a topical compress (given topically to the skin) by the Iraqi physician Abu Yusuf Ya'ub ibn Ishaq al-Kindi, also known as Al-Kindi, in the ninth century. More than 100 active chemicals that are good for the body are claimed to be present in the plant.
Sage is a herb that can also be made into a hot beverage and used as a remedy for joint inflammation,
stomach pains, and the common cold.
The plant, known as maryamiyah in Arabic, is indigenous to western North Africa and western Europe but is frequently used in cooking throughout the Middle East.
The herb can be used as a blood thinner, appetite stimulant, sedative, and to relieve indigestion and trapped gas.
Additionally, it has traditionally been used to cure skin conditions including snake bites.
Numerous research by scientists indicate that the plant may include qualities that can improve cognitive function and be utilised to prevent the beginning of Alzheimer's disease.
Aniseed, known as yansoon in Arabic, is grown across a broad area that includes the Middle East and spans from western Europe to Japan. It is used to relieve chest congestion or coughs.
Ancient Egyptian scriptures mention the plant as a remedy, and it is also a common ingredient in Middle Eastern biscuits, giving them a characteristic liquorice-like flavour.
Aniseed is reported to have a number of advantages when consumed as tea, including relief from colic in children, stomach pain, and respiratory issues.
Due to its anti-bacterial qualities, it is occasionally chewed raw as a breath freshener in several regions of the Middle East.
Ibn Sina, a renowned physician, astronomer, and philosopher, suggested combining crushed aniseeds with rose oil to relieve ear ache.
Pomegranate molasses, also known as or dibs ruman in Arabic, is a tart thick syrup that is frequently poured over salads and meat meals to add a tartness. Strongly anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, it can also be used topically to treat cold sores and reduce inflammation, for example, on the lips.
The pomegranate tree, a sizable deciduous shrub, thrives throughout the Middle East, with Iran at the forefront as the fruit's top producer globally.
The molasses, which is simply pomegranate juice concentrated, is recognised for assisting kidney stone sufferers and is believed to aid in the breakdown of lipids. It is a common component in stews and dressings, especially in Iraq.
The pomegranate fruit's peel, when crushed and cooked, is also regarded as a miracle cure for heart-related illnesses and indigestion.
This native Middle Eastern herb has many additional uses than being a topping for manaeesh and other pastries.
Thyme, also known as za'atar in Arabic, is one of the most economically significant wild plants in Lebanon. It has been used to heal illnesses including sore throats and coughs as well as an anti-worming agent when brewed as a tea.
Both the Sumerians and Al-Kindi utilised it as an antiseptic to treat bacterial illnesses.
The Hebrew Bible makes reference to a herb that is thought to resemble za'atar and is described in ancient Egyptian sources for ritual use.
Thyme is said to be packed with antioxidants and helpful for reducing allergies and inflammation.
Myrrh or Murrah.
As one of the three gifts presented to Jesus at his birth, along with frankincense, which is also a member of the same family, myrrh is well known from the biblical narrative.
The Boswellia plants that grow in Oman and Somalia are the source of both resins. The resin harvested from the shrubs hardens into a structure like a rock that can be used as a drink or burned as incense. Because of its distinctive flavour, it was given the Arabic term murrah, which means bitter.
The 9th-century Iranian physician Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi, better known as Rhazes in the west, used myrrh to cure stomach swellings as well as renal and bladder problems. The resin is said to have astringent and antibacterial qualities.
Myrrh can be made into a tincture and used as a mouthwash to relieve mouth ulcers. When given to toddlers as granules, it can lessen their discomfort from teething.