KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Ehsan Mohammed Ali, was a high school student in Rosiers town of Sudan’s Blue Nile State. It was at the school day time that she began suffering from acute colic. When taken to hospital for medical checkup, and upon diagnosis, doctors discovered gallstones within and outside her urinary tracks. A surgical intervention was required, including a surgery or a lithotripsy.
She said this was a chock for both of them, herself and her mother. They returned home in a state of total fear and despair. After a while, she said, her mother visited a herbal shop, seeking an alternative medication. The mother was served with a prescription of a herb known i Sudan as “the Mahreeb” also known in the Arab peninsula as “Alazkhar”.
My mother came back from the herb shop with a sac full of the herb and started boiling quantities as told by the herbalist: she boiled quantity of water then added the meshed or crushed herb in the water and covers the casserole, leaving it there for five minutes. Then the content is left to cool down before placing it in the refrigerator. One is to drink each time one feels thirsty, or at least thrice a day.
She related that she, and all people at home, started drinking the liquid. She added that since then the pain went away and the stones started fragmenting and that she could feel the pieces coming down with the urine. Today, she reveals, she is sixty year old and she never felt any pain since the time she started taking the medication.
Mahareeb herb, Cymbopogon in Latin and Sweet or Aromatic Rush in English, is a perennial grass species grows in a form of spherical bundles in northern Sudan’s North Kordufan and Darfur arid regions; it also grows in North part of Arab peninsula, North Africa and India. In its dry form, Mahareeb is similar in looks to hay and has sweet and pleasant smell similar to celery.
Oil can be extracted from Mahareeb dry grass by distillation. Oil is abundant in the leaves, especially prior to efflorescence. The leaves are naturally dried. They contain resinous substances and glycosides. Mahareeb is one of the richest herbs in volatile oils. Thus the reason it should not be boiled, to avoid losing those oil contents. Camels feed on this herb, thus the nickname “camel weed”.
The herb is planted early summer through pollination and is collected three times a year: July, September and December. One acre produces 3 tons every harvest.
Mahareeb is recommended by herbalists who pinpointed that Sudanese people have been using it since times immemorial to treat gases, cramps, bloating, and colic. It treats diarrhea, urinary system infections and is useful in remedy of fever and is a diuretic and pain reliever. When burned and its smock is inhaled, it treats influenza and some neurological diseases, helps getting rid of gallstones. It is used in the manufacture of perfumes and soaps.
It is also used in the treatment of menstrual pain and regulates the menstrual cycle especially after birth, reduces pain and increases mothers’ milk. The herb is also useful in reducing joint’s pain. Recent studies found that it is useful for treatment of baldness and it contains antimicrobial substances.
Sudanese use Mahareeb in their food, especially traditional recipes such as Abrai, Hulumor, Sharbout and Nesha because of its spicy flavor and aromatic contents. The herb is furthermore added to the water kept in their traditional clay pots to give it pleasant flavor.
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