Natural Medicines from the Sunnah

I’d been planning for a while to write about hijama, and just by chance I came across American Bedu’s blog with the same topic.  She also has a video depicting hijama, which I’ll steal post here, since it is very similar to what I do myself. 

There is such a wealth of natural medicine to be found in hadith.  Two remedies from the sunnah of Rasulullah, sallahu aleyhe wassalaam, I never tried til I lived in Egypt.  The first was Talbinah, a barley porridge.  From hadith:

Volume 7, Book 71, Number 593:
Narrated ‘Ursa: Aisha رضى الله عنها used to recommend At-Talbina for the sick and for such a person as grieved over a dead person. She used to say, “I heard Allah’s Apostle صلى الله عليه وسلم saying, ‘At-Talbina gives rest to the heart of the patient and makes it active and relieves some of his sorrow and grief.” [Bukhari]

Volume 7, Book 71, Number 594:
Narrated Hisham’s father:
Aisha رضى الله عنها used to recommend At-Talbina and used to say, “It is disliked (by the patient) although it is beneficial.” [Bukhari]

‘A’isha رضى الله عنها the wife of Allah’s Apostle صلى الله عليه وسلم said: When there was any bereavement in her family the women gathered there for condolence and they departed except the members of the family and some selected persons. She asked to prepare talbina in a small couldron and it was cooked and then tharid was prepared and it was poured over talbina, then she said: Eat it, for I heard Allah’s Messenger (may peade be upon him) as saying: Talbina gives comfort to the aggrieved heart and it lessens grief. [Muslim]

You can buy Talbinah prepackaged in ‘Attaba from Abu Fida’, or in bulk from almost any ‘atara.  LOL, the package claims it cures anything from cancer to diabetes.  It was good for helping me with stomach upsets and depression.  It’s interesting to note, barley is used mostly in the middle east, but other countries, such as Japan use it a good deal also.  In addition to using the flour to make porridge, you can buy hulled barley (sha’ir).   The cooked barley can be added to salads, soups.  You can actually drink the water used to boil it, mix it with milk and honey.  It’s very good for lowering high blood sugar.

The other cure from our Rasulullah, sallahu aleyhe wassalaam, is hijama, or cupping.  In case you don’t know, it involves applying a glass or plastic suction cup to a part of your body, then making a small cut to draw out the blood from that area.  I never even considered trying this in the States.  I just happened to visit a sister (Um Esa)  while she was having it done.  I had been having back pains (from a horridly soft mattress), so I arranged to have it done.  Cupping, like everything else, you might have to pay a pretty penny.  I think I was quoted, 3LE per cut.  If you are getting quite a few areas done, that adds up.  Alhamdulillah, I purchased my own equipment, and had a sister show me how to do it.  You can either find doctor who practices natural medicine, or just individuals who’ve learned how to do it.  It is wonderful for insomnia, depression, headaches, and a host of other maladies.  Dh still won’t let me do it on anyone else ( I did do cupping on my youngest back in Egypt when she was sick FOREVER with some sort of stomache virus.)  I still do it whenever I get a chance, especially when I have a headache I just can’t shake.

Allahu alim, there don’t appear to be specific hadith in regard to where to cup for particular illnesses.  The people who practiced this in Egypt seem to follow the ‘points’ established for acupunture.  There is actually a photocopied book you can purchase in some souks with ‘points’ for everything from arthritis to weight loss.  From my understanding, cupping works best if you do it fairly regularly.  But it does make you tired afterwards.  I only do it at night before bed.  It is REALLY relaxing.   

I found a few websites that discuss benefits of barley.


And here is the video depicting hijama.


Things to consider before you move overseas

We planned a lot before moving overseas, mostly money matters.  But we didn’t think of some pretty fundamental issues.  One is health care.  If you are going to a richer area of the muslim world this may not be much of a problem,  but if you are planning on living in Egypt, Yemen, Mauritania, ie, one of the poorer countries, you may have problems finding quality care, or the right medications.  Even the Egyptians I have spoken with have complained about the difficulty of finding good, qualified doctors.  There seems to be very little oversight of doctors. 

We initially moved to Mauritania, but after half a year, it became clear that we could not remain there.  The reason was a combination of health problems and difficulties involving studying there.  My youngest daughter had such frequent vomiting that we ended up taking her to the doctor.  I had almost constant diarrhea and ended up avoiding a lot of the pretty meager food choices we had.  Dear husband ended up with increased complications to his foot problems as well as painful ear infections (both related to the sand, Mauritania is mostly desert). 

We’d thought we’d identified potential health problems and tried to handle them before going.  My oldest has a cataract in her eye, we saw very good doctors and started her on a treatment plan.  Dh had treatment for his plantar fasciitis and arthritis before we left, as well as purchasing meds and shoes to help.  We really didn’t expect his conditions to worsen, and didn’t have any options planned out when they did.

We also had not adequately planned out financial matters.  How to get/receive money from the states.  File taxes for the previous year.  We did sign up for internet banking in order to have access to our accts, but it still didn’t solve all problems, such as having replacement cards sent out.  Egyptian ATM’s are notorious for eating bank cards.  I never even saw an ATM in Mauritania.

Almost any legal issues will be difficult to handle long distance.   You want to be sure to tie up lose ends before traveling or designate someone you trust in the States with power of attorney to act in your behalf.

Culture shock was very real.  It took a lot for me to get used to a ‘different’ way of doing things.  Small things, like stores not having change for larger bills.  It is really common to walk into a neighborhood shop and have them tell you to come back later to get your change, or let you take the item and pay later if they don’t have change.  Traffic, I never really saw cars speed up towards pedestrians till I moved overseas.  It’s like a competition to see who can get there first 🙂


Social and class issues will leave you frustrated or shaking your head sometimes.  It’s pretty common to get depressed at having a diminished support structure.  Unless your spouse is from the country you move to, it may be just you, he and your children for some time dealing with any illnesses, moves, money issues, etc.  None of this is meant to discourage from travel.  I just wish I’d had someone talk to me about them prior to moving.  I’ve seen more than one family move, buy a houseful of appliances for several thousand dollars, and sell it at a lose ’cause they were leaving the country after six months.  We did, when we left Mauritania for Egypt.

Maintaining Good Health

Arggghhh!  I don’t know what it is, but our family keeps coming down with these stomach illnesses.  I’m just getting over weeklong nausea/diarrhea, and ds had bout of vomiting the other day. 

NO MORE OUTSIDE FOOD (I really mean it this time)!!!  It’s not like we’re addicted to eating out.  It’s really occasional, like when I’m too tired to cook.  I usually cook 6-7 days out of the week.  Anyway, if you do order out, avoid salads and sauces!  They are some main culprits of food-borne illnesses.  The salads don’t get washed enough, and the sauces sit out too long.  Grilled, fried, or broiled meat is likely to be ok, just because it’s been cooked at high temps. 

I’m also going to get more serious about washing fruits and veggies.  I already do a thorough job, but now I’m going to wash the cukes BEFORE I cut them.  I may even soak some of the stuff in vinegar to disinfect it. 

I don’t want to go overboard, but it’s very frustrating, frightening even to have something making you ill, and you don’t know what it is.  I don’t have any desire to go to the doctor, cause they don’t know either.  LOL, I remember how one brother described a visit.  Shorter than the time it takes to recite Surah Al-Kauthar. 

It kind of makes you paranoid and you start looking at everything to see if it makes you sick.  Like the bottled water.  I swear it tastes weird lately.   Sigh….


Dh and dd both agree the Nestle taste’s strange lately.  I wonder what’s going on with that?  Lately it’s also hard to find, most stores are out. 

I spoke with a sister and she said that lot of other people here have complained of recurring  stomach illness.  She said she’s wondered about pesticides!?! 

Bedside manner anyone?

This was one of those days.  One where I start to wonder if the benefits of being here are enough to stay.  My son had a cavity for a few weeks, so I took him a dentist I’d been seeing and requested she see him.  He wouldn’t keep still, which really annoyed her.  I can understand why she was bothered, but I also understood my sons fear.  He’s 8 yrs old and someone is sticking a needle in his mouth!  That would bother most adults. 

Anyway, flash forward to today.  We go back so she can fill in the tooth.  While we are waiting for the doctora to arrive, ds says he has to throw up.  I ask the assistant for a bathroom, she asks the receptionist.  While they are standing around figuring out the reason for their existance, ds, true to his word, throws up.  At this point, the doctora finally makes her entrance, and she is not pleased.  Did he eat before coming here she asked?  I apologized and told her he hadn’t eaten in hours actually.  Unbeknownst to me he’d actually been feeling bad since morning.  The whole appointment went downhill from there.  She lectured me about how my sons ‘reaction is not normal’.  I should have told her he was like this and she never would have started on his teeth.  He needs a doctor who specializes in kids.  Up to this point I’d been trying to keep my face neutral, but I had to agree with her there.  If I’d know she’d have so little tolerance for a scared kid, I never would have brought him.  When she finally finished, she rushed us out of the office, to the point of rudeness.  Needless to say, ds won’t be back to her.  My dilemma, is that I have an appointment with her tomorrow.  Good doctors (meaning skilled) are hard to come by, but the lack of a good bedside manner is pretty standard.  So, my feeling is that I’ll just have to suck up my distaste.  

It might seem like something small and not important enough to question staying in Egypt or not.  But it’s yet another fundamental difference in mentality and it’s very hard to get used to.  

A Visit to an Egyptian Hospital

I went to the hospital a few days ago to retrieve test results for my 6yr old.  She’d had a fever for about 11 days, which continued even after antibiotics were started.  Along with poor appetite, nausea, vomiting and sore throat.  Ordinarily (meaning in the states), we’d have taken her to see a doctor after the 3rd day of fever, but dh and I both feel some hesitancy after past experiences with Egyptian doctors.  The hospital was Cleopatra in Misr Jedida (Heliopolis).  It’s one of the more expensive hospitals, catering to wealthier Egyptians, as well as foreigners.  It looks somewhat similar to an American hospital and has an onsite lab.  An appointment will run you about 60-80 Egyptian LE ($10-$14), not including any lab tests or prescriptions.  A week prior I’d taken her to Markez Al-Tayseer, a clinic in Madina Al-Nasr (Nasr City) , which caters to poorer and middle class Egyptians.  The appointment was 10 LE (>$2). 

What was the difference?  Well, Markez Al-Tayser was clean, albeit small and cramped.  There is no onsite lab.  I was instructed to collect a stool sample (at home), take it to a lab to be analysed and bring back the results.  I didn’t have to wait long to see a doctor.  So why did I take her to Cleopatra and pay more?  Well you try getting a stool sample from a six-year-old who’s barely eaten the past few days.  First find some container to put it in, then take it to a lab, pick up the results and take it back to the doctor, with said sick child.  The American system of health care could use some improvement, but it is a remarkably easy system, comparatively speaking.