There has been a massive comeback to natural remedies worldwide but, in Lebanon, these have been part of our cultural ways of living and dealing with minor health issues and discomforts.
These nature’s remedies didn’t disappear from the Lebanese kitchen’s shelves when science took over, nor from our traditions. If you were raised in Lebanon, you know what we are talking about here.
On the shelves of your mom’s kitchen, you could surely find the Maryamieh herbs near the Panadol, and the Orange Blossom water (May Zaher) near the digestive med, and so on.
Here is how it goes: We always go for pharma meds and, 10 minutes later, we are drinking a hot Yansoun tea or a fenjen of warm May Zaher, or mixing that honey and butter for our sore throat, or drinking that lemonade for our cold.
For those who don’t know our cultural ways through home remedies, and for those who want to be reminded, here are some of the most used in our Lebanese households.
Disclaimer: This article is not meant as medical advice and none of the following is. If you have any medical condition, please consult your doctor.
#1 Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Long used in our households for various purposes, including rubbed on the chest to reduce congestion, rubbed warm on babies’ tummy to soothe colics, also as a skin moisturizer, for hair brilliance and smoothness, and for lips’ cracking.
#2 Rosewater (may wared)
Used as a face moisturizer and also to soothe sunburn and eczema.
#3 Orange Blossom water (may zaher)
To release bloating and facilitate digestion after a heavy meal. In Lebanon, there is something called “white coffee.” It’s actually orange blossom water mixed with boiled water.
#4 Qass3en (قصعين) water
For tummy ache and period cramps. The herb from which this is extracted is also called Sage and Maryamieh.
#5 Herbal Teas
Sage tea (maryamieh) – for the common cold, tummy ache, and joint inflammation.
Yansoun tea – for relaxation
Mint tea – for sore throat and digestion
Chamomile tea – for upset stomach (nausea)
Zhourat (mixture of dry flowers) tea – for overall well-being
#6 Lemon Juice
Lemon juice consumed as lemonade or added to a tea to combat cold and flu, and also tiredness. No biggy here, that’s all vitamin C.
#7 Garlic cloves & Onion
Cut in half and rubbed onto bees’ bites, a garlic clove soothes down quickly the inflammation. Onion has the same effect.
Garlic is also used on acne for the same purpose. After all, it is known as the strongest natural antibiotic.
#8 Anis / Arak
Arak rubbed on gums to numb down toothache, a temporary relief until you make it to the dentist.
Anise seeds boiled into a tea to relieve chest congestion and coughing.
A tablespoon of honey mixed with warm melted butter in equal dose to soothe sore throats.
#10 Fennel Seeds
Chewing fennel seeds for bad breath; same like fresh mint.
#11 Khebez (Lebanese bread)
Softened with little water and placed on the eyelid to soothe down the inflammation of a “shehaz” (stye).
Slices of cucumber placed on closed eyes to relieve eyestrains. Cucumbers actually contain antioxidants that help decrease swelling and relieve pain.
We’ve all probably experienced this growing up. The small towel drenched in cold water and placed on our forehead repeatedly to lower the fever.
Probably not totally natural staple, but it is an old trick in our households that must be mentioned: A spoonful of sugar to stop the hiccups. For the skeptics, this is not an old anecdote. Nutritionists have explained how it works:
It resets the diaphragm from its contractions (hiccups), simply because “eating the grainy sugar crystals forces you to swallow harder than normal, which resets the diaphragm and stop the spasms.”
#15 Pomegranate Molasses (Debs El-Remmen)
Dabbed topically on lips’ cold sores and on canker sores (pimples that show up on the tongue) to reduce inflammation.
Debs El-Remmaneh is a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, which is safe to use for these sores due to being natural.
Disclaimer: This article is not meant as medical advice and none of the above is. If you have any medical condition, please consult your doctor.