Herbal Medicine & its History

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Herbal Medicine & its History

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Interview of a herbal medicine shop owner in Souq Waqif. The interview focuses on herbal medicine in the interviewee’s family and the history of the shop.


Man: Welcome to people who come to us (special Qatari welcoming)

Me: Hi ( Asalam  Alilkum)

Man: WaAlikumAsalam, you welcome again.

Me: How are you?

Man:  I am fine and glade to see you. This is Ahmed Bin Abas Alkhouzi’s shop.

Me: That’s great.

Man: Thank you.

Me: For how many years you have been working in this job?

Man: It’s been more than 400 years since our grandfathers started this work. It has got a long history.

Me: Did you inherit this job from your father or grandfather?

Man: Yes, I did.

Me: Had all the members of your family been working in herbal remedies?

Man: Yes, as I told you that I inherited this work from them.

Me: How did you discover this talent in you?

Man: Since I was born, I was working with my father.

Me: Did you see your father and grandfather while they used to work there?

Man: Yes,I learnt the basics of this job by seeing them.

Me: Why did you choose to follow them instead of opting for a different job?

Man: Herbal remedies have their own history from prophets’ period. How could I choose a different job and leave this legacy?

Me: Why is it a history and what does the herb can do?

Man: Well, for instance, any patient can take one of the famous herbs like ( Helba- Hmra- Sweeda- Zaater) and they can cure himself of a dangerous disease like diabetes.

Me: Are there people who have been visiting you for a long time and they still trust in you?

Man: Some people, who are dead now, used to take herbal medicine for their kids, and nowthese kids are grown up but they still come to me to take medicine for their kids.

Me: That’s good. Would you please tell me a disease that can be cured by herbal remedies?

Man: I don’t cure any disease.People just come to me and ask for certain herbs that they already know.

Me: Can you give me an example?

Man: A lot Hajyh !

Man: For example, a person who has a cough or stomach ache, if he comes to me, then he already knows the herb, which he needs.

Me: Do only Qatari and people from the Gulf come to you?

Man: Not really, people come to visit me from Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Saudi Arabia as well. They come because a lot of things are not available in their countries.

Me: Did you start your work at the beginning in a shop similar to this shop?

Man: Yes, same kind of shop (dkan) was started by my father and grandfather.

Me: Were these kinds of shops also located in SuoqWaqif?

Man:  Yes, and they are leading ones.

Me: What about this shop?

Man: Actually this shop is the last shop. My father and grandfather used to sell dates, coffee, flour and rice. And they use camels…

Man: Did you know the camel?

Me: Yes sure, I do.

Man: They used to put all of this stuff on a camel’s back and deliver it to the people. They buy the food from Bin Abas who deliver to them what they request from to their place.

Me: Let’s get back to the herbs. How did you use the herbs for yourself?

Man: Actually whatever I have in the shop, I taste it before giving to the costumers.

Me: Do you feel good when you eat them?

Man: Definitely, herbs have a lot of benefits.

Me: It means that herbs can never be dangerous?

Man: Yes, they are not as they are natural and don’t contain any of chemicals.

Me: If someone has headache what would you prescribe him?

Man: Mrraa , the person take small piece of Mrraa and wipe it on his forehead.

Me: Then the person will feel well?

Man:  Yes he will Inshallah.

Me: If somebody has a stomachache, he also can use Mrraa?

Man: Cup of Zatar or Ment or Btnch would be great for stomachache.

Man: And for the diabetes people can use Aljaad, and they will be fine.

Me: Could Jaad let the patient get rid of diabetes disease?

Man: No, but it will let them feel more comfortable.

Me: Okay, let’s have a look around the items that are over here. What does this green thing do?

Man: This is my dearest one ( Btnch).

Me: What is Btnch used for?

Man: It’s for people who had stomach bloating. The patient could take three times a day and then the bloating will get over. This is for stomach as well named (Jaad) it is good for the stomach.

Me: Hmm! who is that man in the picture?

Man: This is my father, Jassimbn Abas Alkhouzai, I inherited this work from my father.

Me: Could you please give me a definition of herbal?

Man: It’s natural products which can be cooked. It can be used by drink approximately three times a day.

Me: You told me before that doctors also come to you and buy some of the herbs?

Man: Yes, if they need.

Me: Do you remember any of the herbs which a doctor bought from you?

Man: They buy (Snoud) for their kids or buy (Yansoon).

Me: Doctors???

Man: Yes, the doctors and the mothers of the doctors buy for their kids. Some time, the doctors recommend the people to take herbal medicine instead of allopathic medicine.

Me: Okay, what is (Snoud) ?

Man: Snoud is snoud.

Me: Yes, but it is used for what?

Man: It’s for the newborn baby. It lets him feel comfortable and gives good sleep at night.

Me: Okay, thank you. I have taken a lot of your time.

Man: You are always welcome. I am pleased to see you here and reply to your questions and good luck.

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