Ziziphus spina-christi / السدر / Sidr / Jujube

The leaves contain saponins, tannins, anti-bacterial agents and alkaloids.

The leaves of the Sidr tree can be used to make a shampoo. Grind a cupful of dried leaves into a fine powder. Mix a tablespoon of powder with a cup of warm water, blend it well. Massage into wet hair, leaving in the paste for a few minutes before rinsing.


Phoenix dactylifera / نخلة التمر /Tamar/ Date Palm 

I found coffee made from date seeds in Nablus. Rinse seeds well and soak in water for two days, changing the water every day. Leave to dry for another two days. Toast in an oven on low heat until all moisture is gone from the seeds. Once cool, grind in a coffee grinder. Add cardamom whilst grinding if you like.


Olea europa / زیتون / Zaytūn / Olive Tree

Following a traditional method to make kohl in India, I used freshly-pressed Palestinian olive oil to make natural eyeliner. Fill a small oil lamp to the top with olive oil. Balance a stainless steel, copper or silver plate over the lamp. I used to small cups on either side of the lamp to balance my plate. Whilst the flame should not touch the plate, all the soot should gather on it. It is important to use a thick pure cotton wick to light the lamp, so that it burns for about 20 minutes. Watch the lamp as it burns and check to see how the soot gathers on the plate. Once a thick layer has formed, scrape it carefully into a little container (ideally metal or glass) and mix with a tiny drop of olive oil to form a thick paste. Use within a month.


Micromeria fruticosa /  زعيطمان / Zātmane / Wild Hyssop

The winters in Palestine can either be pleasant or absolutely freezing, depending on where you might find yourself. Walking through a small community garden in Ramallah, I learnt about Zātmane. 

For a delicious winter tea, infuse a tablespoon of dried Zātmane leaves in a teapot along with honey and a teaspoon of grated ginger. 

(I would avoid this if you are pregnant, since it contains pulegone.)


Cooking lunch with a group of women in Nablus, I asked them what their herbal remedies were. The first one they shared was an aphrodisiac salad that they shared with me, joking and laughing, but serious nonetheless.

Eruca sativa /جرجير / Jarjeer / Arugula

A fresh bunch of Arugula seasoned with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and sumac is a perfectly delicious, nourishing and energizing salad. Add in roasted pine nuts if you like.



Vitex agnus-castus / حبّ الفقد / Habb al-faqd / Chaste Tree

Used by monks to diminish their desire for centuries, Vitex contains is also used in herbal medicine to balance natural progesterone and luteinizing hormone production, encourage fertility within female-bodied people and soothe period pains. However, check with a herbalist before prescribing!



Petroselinum crispum / البقدنوس / Baqdunas / Parsley

Parsley is inherently part of Palestinian food. A wonderful woman told me about a parsley infusion being the perfect remedy for a challenging period. Not only does parsley help quicken your period, she also said it soothes cramps and pain. It works as a mild emmanogogue, making the uterus contract and shed its lining (perfect for an overdue period.)

Steep one bunch of fresh parsley (or a few tablespoons of dried parsley) in near-boiling water for 15 minutes. Drink several cups a day, during your period and right before it!


Pimpinella anisum / يانسون / Yansun / Aniseed

A friend shared a childhood memory of the tiny muslin pouches of herbs carefully stored in the medicine cupboard at home. She described them as similar to teabags (even smaller). When babies were teething or had stomach aches, the little herb bag was dipped into warm water. The herb-infused water was slowly dropped into the baby’s mouth. The used herbs were then emptied out, the clothes washed and new pouches made for next time.

Using a small muslin square (the size of your hand) fill in a tablespoon of aniseed and bind into a pouch with undyed cotton thread. You could blend in camomile flowers for a calming remedy.

I collected the following recipes during meetings over tea, whilst walking through gardens, and in herbal stores. Whilst some are well-known, others are less common. I found the stories behind the stories and the situations within which they were shared as special as the recipes themselves.

I would experiment with them, but also read and research about the herbs to be safe. 





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