Archive for the ‘Islamic & Prophetic Medicine – الإسلامية والطب النبوي’ Category
The plants of Kalonji are found throughout India in the form of bushes. The height of the plant is approximately half a meter. It possesses blue flowers. It is originated from Turkey and Italy. Later on, it was brought to Asia by physicians and cultivated in India. Now a days, it is cultivated throughout India, whereas it is wildly grown too. Seeds are triangular in shape, black in colour and possess a severe pungent smell, contain a considerable amount of oil. It is incorrect that Arabs learnt its use from Greeks, because before the advent of Islam in middle east no description is found on record about it’s use. It’s therapeutic use was initiated after the advent of Islam, since, Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) mentioned its therapeutic efficacy and potential of cure.
Hazrat Abu Hurairah States – “I have heard from Rasool Allah (Pbuh) that there is cure for every disease in black seeds except death and black seeds are shooneez.”
Salim Bin Abdullah narrates with reference to his father Hazrat Abdullah Bin Omar that Rasool Allah (Pbuh) said, “Let fall these black seeds upon you, these contain cure for all diseases except death.”
The same narration is found in Sanad-e-Ahmed from Hazrat Aisha (t) and in Ibn-al-Jozi and Trimizi from Abu Huraira. Hazrat Buraida narrates that Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) stated – “Shooneez is cure for all ailments except death.”
It is stated in the books of seerat that Nabi-e-Akram (Pbuh) himself used to take these seeds for therapeutic purpose but with the syrup of Honey.
Khalid Bin Saad states that he was travelling with Ghalib Bin Jabr, when fell ill during the journey. Ibn Abi Ateeq (nephew of Hazrat Aisha) Came to meet us. On seeing the patient, he took 5 or 7 seeds of Kalonji and ground it, mixed it in olive oil and dropped in both nostrils, Hazrat Aisha told us that Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) stated that there was cure in black seeds for all ailments except sam. I asked him, what was sam? he told “Death”. Ghalib Bin Jabr became healthy with that treatment. Observations of the scholars of Hadith reveal that shooneez is equally effective for the diseases due to heat and cold. Zahbi states that kalonji removes the obstruction of any part of the body, expels the gases and strengthens the stomach. It is Emmenagogue, Lactogogue and Diuretic. It is an Anti-Helminthic, if taken with vinegar. It is useful in chronic cold. Inhalation of its smell is useful in common cold. The oil of Kalonji is effective in Alopecia. Half tea-spoonful, if boiled in water and taken, is helpful in Asthma and diffuses the toxic effects of Bee and Wasps. Continuous use of kalonji is effective in mad dog biting. Fumigation of kalonji is useful in respiratory diseases. It is useful in paralysis, Facial Palsy, Migraine, Amnesia and Palpitation. It is also an expectorant and antipyretic. It mormalises the secretions of stomach and pancreas. This phenomenon is very much effective and significant in the treatment of Diabetes Mellitus. It expels the kidney and urinary bladder stones, if taken with the syrup of honey. It is effective in jaundice also if taken with milk. It’s powder if taken with water is effective in Haemorrhoids. If Kalonji seeds are boiled in vinegar and this solution is applied on Gums and Teeth, it removes the inflammation of the gums and relieves the pain also. It is also reported that its fine powder is effective if applied in early stages of cataract. Kalonji is also used in skin disorders. The oil of the seeds is also effective in earache.
Chemical Composition – seeds contain 1.5% volatile oil, while 37.5% Non volatile oil. In addition to this Albumen, Sugar, Organic acids, Glucoside Melanthin Metarbin and bitter substances are also found. The Glucoside is toxic in nature, hence the use of Kalonji in large doses and prolonged use might be harmful.
If it is taken with Qust Sheering after breakfast and Dinner, it is effective in chronic dysentery and Asthma. Qust Sheering is a good medicine for sexual debility, but if it is taken with Kalonji seeds and Habburrashad, it becomes more fortified. Modern upto date trials have proved that Kalonji seeds alone or in combination with other drugs are highly effective in Diabetes Mellitus, vitiligo and other skin ailments.
‘Use the black seed for indeed, it is a
The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) told us about this effective medicine which can cure all disease, (God Willing). remedy for all disease except death’ He was always truthful and his revelations are not due to caprice, but revealed to him by Allah (SWT). ’ Sahih Bukhari 7:591
BACK-ACHE & OTHER MUSCLE PAINS
Mildly heat some Black Seed Oil and then stroke the affected area intensely with the oil, together with a teaspoon (5ml) of Virgin Black Seed Oil to be drunk three times daily. Healing expected within a few weeks, Insha ‘Allah.
Rub the forehead and the sides of the face near the ears with Virgin Black Seed Oil then bandage the forehead. Also take a teaspoon (5ml) of Virgin Black Seed Oil, before breakfast.
Mix any drink with a teaspoon (5ml) of Virgin Black Seed Oil and also take two lobes of garlic every morning with breakfast. Rub the whole body with Black Seed Oil and expose to sun rays for half an hour once every three days.
NERVOUS TENSION / STRESS
A teaspoon (5ml) of Virgin Black Seed Oil with a cup of tea or coffee helps to cool you down and eliminate symptoms of tension.
Drink a cup of milk with a teaspoon (5ml) of Virgin Black Seed Oil three times daily for five days. This should help cure the problem, Insha ‘Allah.
Mix a teaspoon (5ml) of Virgin Black Seed Oil with a cup of yogurt. Drink the mixture twice a day for three days.
COUGH & ASTHMA
Rub the chest with Black Seed Oil, drink a teaspoon (5ml) of Virgin Black Seed Oil morning, noon, & night, and inhale the vapour of Black Seed Oil mixed into hot water.
Mix a cup of water cress seeds with a cup of Whole Black Seed, half a cup of pomegranate peel, and half a cup of Fumitory. Grind the mixture to powder. Take half a teaspoon of the mixture together with a teaspoon (5ml) of Virgin Black Seed Oil daily before breakfast for one month.
Drink Virgin Black Seed Oil regularly with any hot drink. This dissolves fats and dilates veins and arteries.
GALL & KIDNEY STONES
Grind 250 g of Whole Black Seeds thoroughly and mix with 250g of Pure Honey. Take two tablespoons of this mixture in half a cup of hot water. This mixture is to be taken daily before breakfast together with a teaspoon (5ml) of Virgin Black Seed Oil.
Mix 200g of ground Black Seeds with Olive Oil. 50 ml of Virgin Black Seed Oil & 50 ml of Olive Oil + 200g of pure Honey. Mix thorough-ly and take a teaspoon after every meal. This will restore vitality, Insha ’Allah.
Inhale the vapour of Virgin Black Seed Oil and drink two teaspoons (10ml) of Black Seed Oil with Lemon Juice in the morning and evening.
VITILIGO & LEPROSY
Rub the affected area with Apple Vinegar and then with Virgin Black Seed Oil for fifteen days.
LOSS OF HAIR
Stroke the scalp thoroughly with Lemon and leave for about fifteen minutes. Shampoo, wash and dry hair thoroughly. Then apply Virgin Black Seed Oil to the scalp & drink a teaspoon (5ml) of Virgin Black Seed Oil mixed with Tea or Coffee.
INFLAMMATION OF THIGHS AND GROIN
Wash the inflamed region thoroughly with soap and water. Dry and rub with Virgin Black Seed Oil in the evening and leave until the next morning.
FOR HEALTHY SKIN
Mix equally, Virgin Black Seed Oil with Olive oil. Rub the face with this mixture and leave it for one hour. Wash with soap and water.
1-2 teaspoons (5-10ml) of Virgin Black Seed Oil mixed with Orange Juice in the morning makes you active all through the day.
A teaspoon (5ml) of Virgin Black Seed Oil with 100 mg of boiled mint.
A teaspoon (5ml) of Virgin Black Seed Oil mixed in a hot drink after supper gives you a quiet sleep all through the night. Insha ‘Allah.
by Karima Burns (MH, ND)
An English proverb points out, “Some men walk through the forest yet see no firewood.” As Muslims, we should be careful of falling into this proverbial truth.
Muslims often seek outside help to lose weight, although the Qur’an and Hadith provide guidance on many ways through which we can combat being overweight. They include periodic cleansings, eating simple and whole foods and herbs, avoiding excess, drinking plenty of water, praying and seeking guidance from Allah, seeking the help of others, and being persistent and patient.
Ramadan is a time for physical cleansing as well as spiritual cleansing. A prophetic tradition (Hadith) states, “Fast the month of Ramadan so to heal your bodies from disease.” If we strive to eat only pure, simple and light foods during Ramadan, we can undergo a physical as well as a spiritual cleansing. Since there is such a strong scientifically proven correlation between our spiritual, mental and physical health, to purify all systems at the same time provides the ultimate and most powerful detoxification fast that we have available today.
To eat purely means to eat the whole, unprocessed and pure foods that Allah has provided us such as whole wheat breads, grains, beans, vegetables and fresh fruits. These are perfect foods and we do not need to improve them with colors, chemicals and preservatives. The Qur’an (5:4) says, “They ask thee what is lawful to them as food. Say, ‘Lawful unto you are all things good and pure.'” And (50:7), “And the earth we have spread out, and we have set firm mountains on it, and have made every kind of beautiful growth to grow on it.”
The Qur’an also says (7:31),”Eat and drink, but waste not by excess for God loves not the prodigals.” Prophet Muhammad (SAW) emphasized this in Hadith when he mentioned that, “The stomach is the home of disease, and abstinence the head of every remedy. So make this your custom.” It is easy to eat in excess since foods once reserved for royalty are now readily available in every supermarket. However, there is a hidden cost to excess consumption that keeps them expensive. Livestock pay this hidden cost by being injected with hormones and chemicals to increase the production of meat, cheese, milk and cream. The earth pays an even higher price when we consider the amount of grain and water used to raise the excess number of cattle for meat consumption.
Eating breakfast is also an important part of weight loss as it speeds metabolism of the body. The Hadith say, “Eat your meal at dawn, for there is blessing in the meal at dawn,” and, “There is blessing in three things: the early morning meal, bread and soup.”
Also, we must not ignore the benefits of the many herbs that Allah has provided us. Sahih Bukhari relates that, “For every malady Allah created, He also created its cure. Whoever acquires such knowledge shall benefit from it, and one who ignores it will forgo such benefit.”
Another gift that Allah has given us in the battle against excess weight is water. The Qur’an says (15:45), “The righteous will be amid gardens and fountains of clear-flowing water,” and (21:30), “We made water essential for all life.” Muslims wanting to lose weight would benefit by drinking ten glasses of water a day, at least one half hour before and after meals.
As well as their spiritual benefits, the five prescribed daily prayers also provide physical toning benefits to the body. And patience is often the greatest test we face when we decide to lose weight. However, the Qur’an says (2:155), “Give glad tidings to those who exercise patience when struck with adversity and say, ‘Indeed, we belong to God, and to Him is our return.’ Such ones receive blessings and mercy from their Lord, and such are the guided ones.”
Lastly, we cannot forget the power of prayer and support from others. The Qur’an says (26:80), “… And when I sicken, then He (Allah) heals me.” Abu Hurairah relates, “Allah never inflicts a disease unless he makes a cure for it.” Weight gain is often caused by excess, and the weakness of one or more organs of the body. A Hadith even says, “The origin of every disease is cold. So eat when you desire and refrain when you desire.” Many people have lost weight simply by warming up their bodies with herbs and warm foods, and reducing heavier, colder foods and those that clog and chill the system.
“Oh, Lord! Advance me in knowledge…” The Qur’an says, and the Prophet has stated, that we should, “Seek knowledge, even in China.” Along these lines, we can also obtain wisdom from people all around the world in the subject of weight loss. Utilizing the support of programs such as Weight Watchers or information provided in magazines can be beneficial – as long as we turn to the Qur’an as our ultimate inspiration
Most Commonly Documented Prophetic Remedies
Henna (scientifically known as lawsonia inermis) has been well known for a long time in the Muslim world. It is extensively grown in India and Sudan, and is used mainly for cosmetic purposes. The plant is sometimes called the “Magic Plant” because it has a great healing effect, contains many healing substances like tannine and other glue-like substances, and it has an anti-microbial and an anti-viral effect. It is natural, inexpensive, and has no known sides effects when taken orally. Indications for its use are as follows:
Burns: It is very effective when applied to a first or second degree burn. It:
reduces fluid loss from the burn site, which is important if the area is large.
has an anti-microbial effect, and so reduces the risk of infection.
sticks on the wound site until healing is complete.
is easy to apply either in paste or powder form.
is inexpensive and easily available.
Healing Properties: Henna promotes wound healing, especially chronic wounds and ulcers. The main cause of this is not known, but it may be its nourishing effect on the wound and its anti-microbial properties.
Anti-Hemorrhage Effect: Henna has proven to be efficient in the management of nose bleeding (epistaxis), providing a long-lasting cure. One dose is generally sufficient. It is more successful than cauterization, which normally has to be repeated and cannot guarantee that there will not be a recurrence of bleeding. The only side effect of henna here is that it can cause slight sneezing. Henna can be used at other sites like a bleeding duodenal ulcer or oesophageal varicose veins, with no known side effects. Its anti-bleeding effect may be due to its coagulation or local burning properties.
Anti-Viral Effect: Henna has an anti-viral effect. This is evident in its treatment of warts (particularly those that are resistant to liquid nitrogen treatment), Herpes Simplex (applied as a powder, it dries the vesicles at the site, prevents ulceration and crust formation, and prevents secondary infection). This benefit of henna is very promising, and should be explored further. It can also be used to treat AIDS.
Onion seed or hibat al-barakah (Nigella sativa)
This plant is found throughout India in the form of bushes, with blue flowers, that reach a height of approximately half a meter. It originally came from Turkey and Italy, and was brought to India by physicians to be cultivated. The seeds are black and triangular in shape, have a strong pungent smell, and contain a considerable amount of oil.
It is incorrect that Arabs learnt about its benefits from Greeks because, before the advent of Islam, there is no record of its use. Its therapeutic use was initiated after Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) mentioned its efficacy and its potential to cure. Abu Hurayrah states, “I have heard the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) say that there is cure for every disease in black seeds except death.”
Khalid Ibn Sa`ad states that he was traveling with Ghalib Ibn Jabr when he (Ghalib) fell ill during the journey. Ibn Abi Ateeq (nephew of Ayesha) came to meet us. On seeing the distressed one, he took five or seven black seeds, ground them, mixed them in olive oil and dropped them into both his (Ghalib’s) nostrils. Ghalib Ibn Jabr became healthy with this treatment.
Ayesha told us that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) stated that there is cure in black seeds for all ailments except sam. I asked him, “What is sam?” He said, “Death.”
Chemical Composition: The seeds contain 1.5 % volatile oil and 37.5 % non-volatile oil. In addition to this albumen, sugar, organic acids, glucoside, melanthin, metarbin and bitter substances are also found. The glucoside is toxic in nature; hence its in large doses and for a prolonged period may be harmful.
Its therapeutic uses are as follows:
Zahbi stated that it removes the obstruction of any part of the body, expels the gases and strengthens the stomach.
It is emmenagogue, lactogogue and a diuretic.
It is an anti-helminthic, if taken with vinegar and useful with chronic colds.
Its inhalation is beneficial in the treatment of common colds.
Its oil is effective with alopecia (hair loss).
Half a teaspoon, if boiled in water, is helpful for asthma and alleviates the toxic effects of bee and wasp stings.
Continuous use of the seeds is effective for mad dog bites.
Paralysis, facial palsy, migraine, amnesia and palpitations are also ailments which benefit from it.
It can also be used as an expectorant and antipyretic.
It normalizes the secretions of the stomach and pancreas. This is very effective in the treatment of Diabetes Mellitus.
It expels stones in the kidney and bladder if taken with honey.
It is effective in jaundice when taken with milk.
Its powder, when taken with water, is good for hemorrhoids.
If black seeds are boiled in vinegar and then applied to the teeth and gums, it reduces inflammation and pain of the gums.
It is also reported that its fine powder is effective if applied in the early stages of cataracts.
Black seed is also used for skin disorders.
The oil is also effective in earache.
The olive, a sign of peace and friendship throughout the world, is described in the Holy Qur’an in Surat At-Teen. Found extensively in Asia minor, Palestine, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Italy, North Africa, Algeria, Tunisia, the state of California in America, Mexico, Peru and southern Australia, the olive plant stretches up to three meters in height. Its leaves are bright green and very attractive; and its fruits are bright bluish or violet in color. Although olives consumed straight from the plant are very nutritious, they are not usually eaten due to their metallic taste. A pickled version is consumed largely in Europe. Olives are preserved in vinegar and imported from Spain, Italy, France, Turkey and Greece, and are favored in Europe and Arab countries. Olive oil is a good preservative for other foods such as sardines and other fish.
The use of olives goes back to ancient times. Vessels full of olive oil have been found, among other articles, during the excavation of ancient Egyptian graves. According to the scholars of Hadith, when the Great Flood subsided, the first thing to be seen on the earth was an olive tree.
According to Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, Sayyid Al-Ansari narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “Eat olive oil and massage it over your bodies since it is a holy (mubarak) tree.”
According to Ibn Al-Juzi, Zanbi, Alqama Ibn Amir narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “There is olive oil for you; eat it, massage it over your body, since it is effective for hemorrhoids.” Basoor reported that Aqba Ibn Amir narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) stated, “You have the olive oil from this Holy (mubarak) tree; treat yourself with this, since it cures the anal fissure.” Abu Na’im reported that Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) stated, “Eat the olive oil and apply it (locally), since there is cure for seventy diseases in it, [and] one of them is leprosy.”
Olive oil has a place in pharmacology in the U.S.A. and Britain. Both of these countries have attributed prime importance to olive oil in the treatment of various ailments, and have fixed standard parameters to evaluate its purity.
It contains palmatic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, steanic acid, myristic acid and glycerides. In this case, it is not dissolved in water but in alcohol, ether, chloroform and liquid paraffin. The adulterant very often used in the olive oils found on the market is the seeds of the tea plant, arachis oil. Sometimes machine gun oil and refined machine oil are also found in it. According to Ibn Al-Qayyim, the red colored oil is better than the blackish one.
Its therapeutic uses are:
It gives exuberance to the facial complexion.
Prevention against poisons.
Regulates the digestive process.
Expels intestinal parasites.
A good tonic, making the hair healthy, shiny and makes it stronger. Adds luster.
A massage of olive oil with ordinary salt over the gums is a remedy for several diseases of the gums and teeth.
Local application of olive oil or the water extracted from the crushed olive oil leaves is effective on boils, rashes and itching.
Chronic ulcers and boils, which are difficult to heal, are healed with olive oil when applied locally.
According to Zahbi, it strengthens the hair and body; hence can be used as a good tonic and for delaying the aging process.
It helps raise a low libido.
A combination of normal saline and olive oil is highly effective in burns.
A soak of olive leaves in water is effective against mouth and lip ulcers, and dermatitis due to allergies.
The concentrated watery solution of the extract of olive leaves and fruits is very effective against dental cavities and leukoplaquea in the mouth.
This solution is applied along with vinegar for alopecia to enhance hair growth.
It is also stated that the local application of this extract removes the scars of small pox and boils.
Ground olive seeds mixed with butter is effective on brittle nails.
Pickles prepared from olives are a good appetizer, and stop constipation.
Its crushed leaves can be applied locally to check excessive perspiration.
The water extracted from the leaves along with honey is used for ear drops and is effective in various ear ailments. The oil procured by burning the wood of the olive branch is effective against all fungal infections, e.g., ringworm, tenia, versicolor in addition to eczema, psoriasis, dandruff and alopecia.
Applying olive oil on the scalp is highly effective against dandruff.
It causes hair growth and reduces hair loss. The application of olive oil in the eyes relieves inflammation.
A massage of olive oil all over the body tones up the muscles and organs, and relieves muscular pain.
Some physicians also advocate a massage of olive oil for epilepsy.
It relieves the sciatica and arthritis.
Ointment prepared from olive oil has very good healing agents:
It heals the sinuses and fistuli very quickly.
If taken internally, 25ml of olive oil mixed with 250ml of barley water is highly effective against chronic constipation.
It is a good diuretic; hence is used in ascites.
It removes kidney stones.
In view of the research carried out in the U.S. and Britain, one concludes that it is good nourishment, particularly for kidney ailments where an intake of nitrogen containing protein is contraindicated.
We mentioned already that the Prophet (pbuh) stated that it is a good remedy for anal fissure. Hence, patients were advised to take two spoonfuls of olive oil at bedtime and an ointment was applied on the fissure locally before sleeping and in the morning. The ointment is prepared from eight spoonfuls of olive oil and two spoonfuls of ground henna leaves.
Its combination with other prescribed drugs of Prophetic Medicine is a good remedy for psoriasis and eczema.
The impressions of several doctors practicing in Middle East and North Africa reveal that gastro-intestinal cancer is not detected among those who are used to consuming olive oil. Japanese doctors also endorse this, and have the opinion that olive oil prevents the incidence of cancer in the gastro-intestinal tract.
Miswak and Dental Hygiene
A variety of oral hygiene measures have been performed since the dawn of time. This has been verified by various excavations throughout the world where toothpicks, chew-sticks, twigs, linen strips, birds’ feathers, animal bones and porcupine quills were recovered. Those that originated from plants, although primitive, represent a transitional step towards the modern toothbrush. About 17 different plants have be used as natural instruments of oral hygiene.
The most widely used twig since early times is the Miswak or Miswak. The stick is obtained from a plant called salvadore persica that grows around Makkah and in the Middle East in general. Although there is no reference to the use of the miswak in the Qur’an, there are several hadith mentioning the benefits of miswak in maintaining oral hygiene; hence, it has been used widely among Muslims since the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). In this respect, our Prophet (pbuh) can be considered among the first dental instructors of proper oral hygiene.
Composition: Salvadora persica is a small tree or shrub with a crooked trunk that is seldom more than one foot in diameter. It has scabrous and cracked bark, and is whitish with pendulous branches. The root bark is light brown and the inner surfaces are white. It has an odorlike cress, and its taste is warm and pungent.
To ascertain its chemical composition, the air-dried stem bark of salvadora persica was extracted with 80% alcohol and then ether, and underwent exhaustive chemical procedures which indicated that it is composed of trim ethylamine, an alkaloid which may be salvadorine, chlorides, high amounts of fluoride and silica, sulfur, Vitamin C and small quantities of tannins, saponins, fiavenoids andsterols.
Repeated use of miswak during the day produces an unusually high level of oral cleanliness. It has been proven that plaque is formed immediately after eating. After 24 hours, it starts to act on the teeth. However, it can be eliminated through meticulous tooth-brushing.
Proper oral hygiene should be taught by dentists, but it requires a person’s time and dexterity. Among those Muslims who ritually practice the use of miswak, rigid oral hygiene by a dentist may not be required.
Miswak and other twigs can be effective in removing soft oral deposits. They can even be promoted as effective instruments in oral health and dental programs for the population at large. There is evidence that salvadora persica contains antibacterial properties. Some other components are astringents, detergents and abrasives. These properties encourage some toothpaste laboratories (Beckenham, UK, Sarakan Ltd.) to incorporate powdered stems and/or root material of salvadora persica in their products. Although commercial powders may be highly efficient in plaque removal, their use has been shown in a survey to cause a high incidence of gingivitis. Plaque eradication is essential, but it should not be in a manner that creates negative side effects for other tissues.
In conclusion, miswak and powdered miswak are excellent tools for oral cleanliness. They are highly recommended in preventive dental health programs in Muslim countries. Recommendations should be made to manufacturers of toothpaste to include the powdered form of miswak in an abrasive form of toothpaste.
A Brief History
The olive tree has been celebrated and referenced in the cultural works of every society. Called “the oldest cultivated tree”, it has served as a food, a fuel, a medicine and has been a symbol of peace, unity and healing for thousands of years.
The existence of the olive tree dates back to 35,000 years BCE. Fossilised remains have been discovered in North Africa dating around 20-30,000 BCE. The wild olive tree originated in Asia Minor where it is extremely abundant and grows in thick forests. It was first cultivated in Syria and Palestine around 6000 BCE. Traders from the Middle East brought the tree and knowledge of its cultivation to Asia Minor, Cyprus, Greece and North Africa in around 3000 BCE.
Around 1700 BCE the olive tree was introduced to Egypt by traders from the Middle East. Tutankhamen even wore a garland of olive branches as a mark of honour. The Greek civilisation from 1000 BCE onwards saw olives and olive oil, not only as important foods, but also symbols of holiness, courage and life. During the Roman era, they became expert producers of cured olives and olive oil, developing several different types of oil for cooking. In 1503, the Spanish invaders brought olive tree plants to the Americas and by 1600 olives were grown in Peru, the West Indies, Argentina and Mexico!
Over the last few centuries, the olive has spread to North and South America, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. Today they are commercially produced in Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey, Portugal, China, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Angola, South Africa, Uruguay, Afghanistan, Australia, New Zealand and America!
In ancient times, the winners at the Olympic Games were given olive-wreaths as trophies and received a large number of olive oil jars! Today, in Turkey, what some consider to be the Turkish national sport, ‘olive oil wrestling’, still flourishes throughout the country!
From the beginning, the calming and healing properties of its oil have been recognised and the olive branch has long been used as a symbol of peace. Today, there are approximately 800 million olive trees with 93 percent of them growing in the Mediterranean basin.
The olive tree belongs to the botanical family of Oleaceae. It is characterised by its extended life span, some in the Mediterranean region are said to be over 2,000 years old! It grows to a height of 20-40 feet and begins to bear fruit in the second year and repays cultivation in the sixth year, continuing to bear fruit even when old and hollow, though the crop varies from year to year.
It bears lanceolate leaves and blooms with fragrant little whitish flowers. The ideal conditions for its growth are at a mean temperature of 15 to 20 C, i.e. especially in Mediterranean countries. During maturity, the oil content of the olive increases and reaches 15 to 30% weight of the total fruit. Olives are found with several different colours, these aren’t different kinds of olives but just the same basic olive at different stages of ripeness and cured in different ways.
The fruit is about 3/4 inch long, ovoid and often pointed, the fleshy part filled with oil. The thick, bony stone has a blunt keel down one side. It contains a single seed. Being hardier than the lemon, the Olive may sometimes even produce fruit in England!
The Average Composition of Olive Oil
Vitamins – A, Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), C. E. K.
Antioxidants- Squalene, B-sitosterol, Campesterol, Flavenoid Polyphenols (Tyrosol and Hydroxytyrosol), Tocopherols, Phytosterols, Avenasterol.
Minerals- Water, Sodium, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Phosphorous.
Acids- Free fatty acids, Omega-3, Omega-6, Palmitic, Palmitoleic, Steric, Oleic, Linoleic, Linolenic, Arachic, Benzoic, Cinnamic, Thiobarbituric.
Production & Composition
It takes between 1,300 to 2,000 olives to produce just over one litre of olive oil. Each olive is approximately 15 calories and each tablespoon of olive oil has approximately 120 calories. It is the oily juice of the fruit and not (in contrast to other vegetable oils) a seed oil. Native olive oil is virtually the only oil that can be consumed exactly the way it is obtained from the fruit, and when properly processed, maintains the taste and odour of the fruit unchanged.
To produce the best oil, olives are first harvested by hand at the proper stage of ripeness and maturity. Experts feel that hand harvesting, as opposed to mechanical harvesting, enables olives of the same size and ripeness to be picked and eliminates bruising of the fruit which causes tartness and oil acidity. Once at the mill, the leaves are sucked away with air fans and the olives are washed to eliminate any remaining impurities (e.g. dust or soil). Then they are crushed whole, without prior stoning. Traditionally with two granite millstones rolling within a metal basin.
The oil, comprising 20% to 30% of the olive, is nestled in pockets within the fruit’s cells. To separate the solids and liquids, the olive paste is spread onto a pulp mat, which is then stacked onto other mats to form a cylindrical load held fast by a central guide. The pressure exerted on the stack causes the liquids to run while the solids (pomace) are retained on the pulp mats. During the process, the temperature must be maintained between 16-28 degrees Celsius to prevent thermal deterioration of the oil.
The vegetable water and oil gradually seep out, running down into a set of decanters. Pressing is the oldest and most common method of oil extraction. The mixture of water and oil produced by this traditional pressing method can be separated by gravity in decanting vats. A more rapid separation can be achieved in centrifuges. The first pressing yields the superior quality oil, and the second and third pressings produce inferior quality oils. The best olive oils hold a certificate by an independent organisation (not regulated or financed by the industry) that authenticates the stone ground and cold pressed extraction process.
The result of the producers’ efforts is a cold pressed extra virgin olive oil with high quality standards and organoleptic characteristics, which give the oil its unique properties. Olive oil is a complex compound made of fatty acids, vitamins, volatile components, water soluble components and microscopic bits of olive. Olive oil is rich in monosaturated fat, oleic acid, polyphenol, and vitamins A and E. Its chemical structure, a compound of carbon and oxygen, is very stable and contains antioxidants and no cholesterol!
Research & Benefits
Olive oil has always been placed somewhere between food and medicine. Hippocrates, recommended the juices of fresh olives as a cure for mental illness and poultices of macerated olives for ulcers!
In the Middle Ages, it was used to treat gynecological complaints and in the Mediterranean countryside, was used as a treatment for ear aches, as a purgative, especially for children, as a treatment for stomach aches, gastritis, gastro-duodenal ulcers and to soften calluses!
Olive oil’s low percentage of saturated fats compared to other oils is one of the factors that make it “the choice” among all kinds of oils. It is said to help accelerate the digestive process, protect arteries, the stomach, the liver and is also said to be effective in preventing several diseases.
Unlike all other oil varieties whose chemical structure features more than one double link, olive oil’s has only one. Its peculiar chemical structure enables olive oil to stand high temperatures (both in cooking and frying) and to prevent the forming of compounds which are detrimental to people’s health.
The flavenoid polyphenols in olive oil are natural anti-oxidants which have been shown to have a host of beneficial effects from healing sunburn to lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, and risk of coronary disease. Many other nut and seed oils have no polyphenols. The polyphenols are not the only substances in the olive with health promoting effects. Research has shown that while polyphenols are important, tocopherols, phytosterols, and particularly avenasterol contribute to the olive oil’s anti-oxidant activity.
Anti-oxidants help prevent damage caused to the body by “free radicals”, which are produced when the body needs oxygen. Their production increases as one ages and they have been linked to heart disease, cancer and ageing.For many years research has shown that when olive oil, rich in monounsaturated fat, replaces saturated fat in the diet, it lowers total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, the “bad” cholesterol).
Researchers believe that olive oil may help to-
Protect against cancer
Keep colon cancer at bay
Protects against bowel cancer
Reduce blood pressure level
Protect against heart disease through the immune system
Reduced the incidence of developing breast cancer for women
Inhibit the growth of human prostate cancer cells
Reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Inhibit or delay the rate of growth bacteria such as Salmonella, Cholera, Staphylo-coccus, Pseudomonas, and Influenza in vitro.
Research is currently also has focusing on the protective effect of minor constituents of olive oil on cardiovascular disease. These studies illustrate the commitment that the world-wide scientific community has made to explore the full health potential of olive oil. The combination of new health findings and olive oil’s taste profile clearly seem to distinguish it from all other cooking oils.
Honey is the oldest sweet known to man. An English proverb says, ‘The history of honey goes with the history of mankind.’ In the Aranha Caves near Valencia, Spain, 9,000 year old mural paintings show a man gathering honey from a cliff face whilst being attacked by the bees.
Similar murals have also been found in South Africa and India. In ancient times, honey has been mentioned in the writings of the Sumerians, the Babylonians, the Indians and the Egyptians. Both the Egyptians and the Ancient Greeks used honey as a sweetener and also used it in their religious ceremonies. For thousands of years Honey has transcended all cultures and has been associated with wealth, happiness, beauty and longevity. Its therapeutic properties have been renowned to strengthen, nourish and care for the physical body.
Today, more honey is produced and consumed than ever before and research into its beneficial properties is being carried out throughout the world. Islam accords honey a special place and encourages its use for a healthier lifestyle.
The Honey Bee
Bees are responsible for 80% of all pollination and can pollinate as many as 18,000 flowers a day! They may travel as far as 55,000 miles and visit more than 2 million flowers to gather up enough nectar to make just 1 pound of honey! They are able to navigate across long distances to locate sources of nectar and then return to the hive and communicate directions to fellow bees.
They prepare special food items such as royal jelly and beebread for their young. They protect their home by recognising and repelling intruders. They regularly remove garbage and other refuse from their hive.
They control the climate in the hive by ‘fanning’ fresh air. They also sprinkle water during the summer and cluster together for warmth in the winter. When their hives become overcrowded, they are smart enough to know that some have to leave and establish new colonies.
The honey bee is smarter than today’s most powerful supercomputers. While computers can carry out over 16 billion simple operations a second (such as adding two numbers), the honey bee performs the equivalent of 10 trillion operations per second!
Each bee colony consists of the Queen Bee, Drones (‘the idle bachelors’) and the workers (foragers). The worker bee stores the nectar it collects from the flowers in a special nectar ‘sac’ where special enzymes transform the sucrose of the nectar into the simple sugars fructose and glucose. Each bee carries up to half its own weight in nectar and flies at around 15 mph. When the forager returns to the hive, it delivers the nectar to one of the indoor bees. It is then transferred mouth-to-mouth from bee to bee until the moisture content is reduced from about 70 percent to less than 20 percent. This changes the nectar into honey. It is estimated that a worker bee will literally work itself to death in six weeks!
The excess of the colony’s requirements are extracted by humans for use as food. Liquid honey is approximately as sweet as sugar yet has 17% less carbohydrate and is over 90 calories less per each 100g and contains no fat! The average composition of honey contains carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, acids, and antioxidants including Pinocembrin, which is unique to honey.
The Average Composition of Honey
Vitamins- Thiamin, RiboflavinNiacin, BiotinB-6, B-12, C, A, D, E, Pantothenic Acid, Folate
Carbohydrates- Fructose, Glucose, Maltose, Sucrose, Kojibiose, Turanose, Isomaltose, Maltulose, Erlose, Theanderose, Panose
Minerals- Water, Sodium, Calcium, Iron, Zinc, Potassium, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Selenium, Copper, Chromium, Manganese
Acids & Enzymes- Invertase, Amylase, Glucose Oxidase, Catalase, Acetic and at least 8 other organic acids. Proline and at least 18 other free amino acids.
Antioxidants- Pinocembrin, Pinobanksin, Chrysin, Galagin
Research & Benefits
Several studies have recently shown the unique properties of honey as a natural remedy. Honey has been shown to have special antimicrobial and antibacterial components, which can help prevent infections by inhibiting the growth of certain bacteria.
It is also an antioxidant, especially in the darker honeys and those with higher water content and may help eliminate reactive compounds in our bodies called ‘free-radicals’. These are believed to contribute to many serious diseases when left unchecked.
It is also a humectant, which means that when honey is exposed to air it draws in and retains moisture. When used in cosmetics it can help hydrate the skin making it feel fresh and ideal for moisturising products. Furthermore it may help in the prevention of scarring by keeping the skin moist and helping in the growth of new tissue.
Honey provides the body with quick energy, which can help in recuperation and help recover from fatigue. Honey has been shown to be an excellent post-exercise muscle recuperation and energy repletion supplement maintaining optimal blood sugar levels throughout the two hours following exercise.
Research around the world has shown that honey is an effective treatment for serious wounds and burns and the use of honey, as a wound dressing material, an ancient remedy that has now been rediscovered. In the past and increasingly today, it is being used as a natural remedy for several ailments. Studies are currently being carried out on the effect of honey on preventing tooth decay, allergies, treating ulcers, thwarting disease and ageing.