Zayed Complex for Herbal Research and Traditional Medicine was established in Abu Dhabi in 1996 with the aim of exploring herbal and traditional therapies to complement the modern health care system.
Traditional medicine can be effective to cure different diseases and reduce the side effects of synthetic drugs. It is a good job that this traditional knowledge has become the basis for scientific investigation of local plant life and their biochemical properties in the UAE.
Thanks for the desert and its wildlife, the Bedouin became familiar with the medicinal properties of many plants. Even today local people make good use of medicinal herbs.
The poisonous plant Rhazya stricta is used in small quantities to settle gastric upsets. Teucrium stocksianum is an important plant for combatting fevers. This herb has a strong smell and is to sage.
The seeds of garat, Acacia nilotica, are ground to a powder used to heal second degree burns or applied around boils to remove the puss.
The seeds of the desert squash, Citrullus colocynthis, are believed to be a cure for diabetes. Leaves, seeds, roots and dried fruits are used to treat dog, insect and snake bites, as a laxative, to relieve pain in joints and as a hair colour.
The seeds of Cassia Italica, the senna plant, are used as a laxative, and the Bedouin claim it would heal any kind of stomach pain.
The bitter sap of the milkweed Calotropis procera is dried and used to fill aching hollow teeth, treating wounds, pain, and scorpion stings and for strengthening muscles affected by paralysis. The woody parts of this plant were burnt to make charcoal, which was an ingredient for gunpowder in the past.
Poultices made of the leaves were applied to joints to heal rheumatism. The leaves also served as fertilizer, dug into the ground around the roots of an ailing palm tree, they help to make the tree more vigorous.
Salsola imbricata leaves are to be dried and ground to powder to be used as snuff to clear the sinuses. Suaeda aegyptiaca stems and leaves can be used for tooth and gum infections. They can be used as snuff for dizziness, headaches, hysteria, and nausea, calming the nervous system and improving poor vision.
The best known cosmetic use of a plant is that one of Lawsonia inermis, henna, to dye hair and decorate hands and feet on special days like weddings and Eid celebrations. To make henna paste, crushed dried berries and leaves are mixed with medicinal herbs, including one containing a blue dye, and applied to the skin in intricate designs. Poultices of the henna plants leaves are also used to relieve headaches.
Leaves are useful in wounds ulcers, cough, bronchitis, dysentery etc. This medicine lowers body temperature to soothe headaches, fevers and burning feet.