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My Healing Journey in the Holy Land

by David Osborn, MH, L.Ac
Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My own personal healing journey in the Holy Land started as soon as I arrived.  I read the internet weather report on the morning of my flight to Israel, and saw that it said that the weather in Jerusalem was quite warm and balmy, at least ten degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it was in Bucharest Romania, where I had been staying with some friends on the way over to the Holy Land.  No need for that heavy down vest, I thought to myself; I’ll leave it behind in Romania, and travel light.

Boy, was that ever a mistake!  The very night of my arrival, the temperature plummeted in Jerusalem, and I caught a bad chill, which developed into a bad chest cold that lasted almost two weeks.  I had to spend most of the rest of my trip struggling to regain my health and immunity.  I learned after I arrived in Jerusalem that the weather there is famous for turning on a dime.

And so, my quest for healing and herbal remedies and weapons with which I could fight back against the negative health consequences of my travel indiscretions began on the first morning after my arrival in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is the Holy City, in which competing world religions collide and vie with each other for dominance.  And so it was with herb stores as well.  I discovered, while cruising through the bazaars on my first day in Jerusalem, two excellent herb stores, competing with each other, side by side.  Both boasted excellent herbal products and remedies, and both were run by competent and knowledgeable herbalists who really knew their stuff.

Herb Store, Arab Bazaar, Jerusalem

One of them was called the Island of Herbs, and the other one was called the Sea of Herbs. The brothers Jacob and Isaac, who ran the Sea of Herbs, claimed that they were the first, the originals.  “Without the Sea, there could be no Island”, they remarked philosophically.

I also combed the juice bars in the bazaars of Jerusalem for other natural healing weapons against the health problems and challenges I was facing.  In the Christian Quarter, I quickly found a juice bar that would provide me with my morning tonic drink.

It consited of Pomegranate juice spiked with a heavy dose of Ginger juice. I had to keep telling the juicer to turn up the heat and not skimp on the Ginger juice, to burn that cold right out of my body.  The astringent action of the Pomegranate juice, on the other hand, would stimulate the stomach and digestion, and tone the liver and the bowels, and so keep me regular.

At Mohammad’s Clinic in Nablus, Palestine

From Jerusalem, I went to Nablus, Palestine, a major city in the West Bank, to visit the herbal clinic of Mohammad Sherbini, a bright young practitioner of herbal medicine and hijama, or cupping therapy, whom I had been mentoring and corresponding with through my website for the past two years.

Mohammad’s clinic is named Al Antaki, after a 10th century Syrian physician and master herbalist.  Al Antaki wrote a large and very comprehensive treatise on herbs, which Mohammad referred to and read to me from quite frequently.  Mohammad’s website is: www.alantaki.net , and his email address is:  mohammad.sherbini@gmail.com .

On my first day at Mohammad’s clinic, I observed hijama, or cupping therapy, in action.  Mohammad used wet cupping, in which small pricks are made in the skin to draw out the old, toxic blood.  I was quite amazed at the dark, thick, congealed and toxic blood that Mohammad drew out of his patients, and, seeing its efficacy and benefits, I finally agreed to have it done on myself.  Immediately after the treatment, I felt lighter, refreshed, and more relaxed, yet energized.

One of the local herbal healers Mohammad introduced me to was named Rateb.  On the first Friday following my arrival in Nablus, we were all invited out to Rateb’s country villa in a mountain village near Nablus.  As soon as we arrived, Rateb greeted me with a large glass of freshly made carrot juice, which made me feel as if I were right at home in California.

Rateb

Herbal Spread at Rateb's

Herbal Spread at Rateb's

Rateb had prepared a magnificent feast for us, which featured roasted pigeon, a large salad, and a delicious rice soup spiced with Cloves and Cardamoms.  After the meal, Rateb took us out for a walk in his herb garden, and pointed out several of the important local herbs to me.

One of Rateb’s specialties, he told me, was treating infertility.  On the wall of his dining room was a large bulletin board with pictures of the many babies that he had helped previously childless couples bring into this world.

“If the Israelis try to decimate our population by killing and imprisoning us Palestinians, I help our people fight back by having more babies!” Rateb exclaimed with messianic zeal.

Rateb also proudly showed me several cases involving metabolic disorders like high blood sugar or high cholesterol, which he had brought back down to normal levels.  All were backed up with documented lab test results.

“All these successes are due to the medicine of Ibn Sina (Avicenna) !” He exclaimed.  Ibn Sina, known in the West as Avicenna, was the author of an encyclopedic medical treatise entitled Al Qanun fi-l Tibb, or the Canon of Medicine, which is the Bible of Greco-Arabic medicine, or Tibb, and which Encyclopedia Brittanica has called the most influential book in the history of medicine, in East or West.

Mohammad’s approach to herbal medicine is very much rooted in the humoral concepts of Tibb, which is also known as Unani Tibb, or Greco-Arabic medicine.  The distinguishing feature of herbal medicine as practiced in the Tibb system is its methods and protocols for purging and adjusting the Four Humors – Blood, Phlegm, Yellow Bile and Black Bile, Mohammad told me.  Mohammad has developed effective herbal treatments for purging and adjusting the humors, which can bring about decisive breakthroughs in many chronic health disorders.

Pulse Diagnosis at Mohammad's Clinic

Among the many cases I observed while visiting Mohammad’s clinic was that of untimely impotence in a young man, which Mohammad assessed as being due to an accumulation of excessive phlegm in the pubic and groin areas.  After purging this excessive phlegm, his penile flaccidity was eliminated, and he was able to have healthy erections again.

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