Botany

Medicinal Plants of Northern and Central Oman



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Medicinal Plants of Northern and Central Oman

Traditional medicine is an alternative for many people who prefer natural remedies over the mass produced conventional drugs that companies create. Until recently, however, traditional medicine was the only source of treatment for many in parts of northern and central Oman.

Even with the establishment of conventional hospitals, traditional medicine is still widely used to treat minor illnesses, such as colds, fevers, stomach problems and headaches. The traditional medicines are administered by elders or healing practitioners.

This practice of traditional medicine is based on the humoral system of ‘Unani tribb’, a Graeco-Arab style of medicine. It is a derivative of the ancient Greek medicinal system where the four elements (earth, water, air and fire) correspond to the four bodily humours (blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile). In addition to this, it evolved to include the four ‘qualities’ (hot, cold, wet and dry). “A healthy body is regarded as having a certain equilibrium among the four humours and any imbalance results in sickness. Foods and drugs are also assigned the quality of being "hot," "cold," "wet" or "dry" and degrees of these qualities. They are prescribed to correct the imbalance of the humours in the body, an organ system, or a particular organ”.

In Oman, this style of traditional medicine is not handed down in written form, but rather orally, handed down by generation to generation by the elders.

In recent years, the traditional herbs and medicinal plants have been studied in order to fully understand what their benefits are. Here you will find information on how the plants are used and what they are designed to treat.

ALOEACEAE:

Known locally as saqal, the leaves are used to treat headaches and inflamed or swollen eyes. Fresh leaves can be rubbed over the body part of can be ground up and mixed with vinegar and oil to be applied to the forehead.

APLACEAE:

The local names for this plant are kimoon or sanoot. It is used by boiling ground seeds with lime and then drunk as a colic. The leaves are boiled in water and then drunk to treat diarrhoea. Locals will also mix the seeds with lime and then apply it up the nose to stop nosebleeds.

CARICACEAE:

Known locally as pawpaw or fafy, the leaves and seeds of this plant can be pounded and then eaten to help treat diarrhoea.

FABACEAE:

The local names for this plant are qat and jat; fresh leaves are applied to the nose to help stop nosebleeds.

JUGLANDACEAE:

Joz or nakash are the local names for this plant. The juices from the leaves are extracted and then applied to the body part which can help treat eczema.

MALPIGHIACEAE:

Qafas is what the locals know this plant by. The oils extracted from the leaves can help relieve mussel and tendon pain by rubbing it over the affected area.

PIPERACEAE:

Known locally as filfil, a solution is made from the fruit of this plant, along with pepper and mixed with honey. Heated and left overnight, the solution can be used up to seven nights are a cure for earaches. Powdered fruit can be applied to the eyes to help vision.

Bibliography:

Ghazanfar, Shahina A. & Al-Sabahi, Ahmed Mohammed Ali (1993) Medicinal Plants of Northern and Central Oman (Arabia), Economic Botany, Springer on behalf of New York Botanical Garden Press.

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