Health Tip 102: Cucumbers

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Living a healthy life closer to nature has been a major concern for modern as well as people with a traditional mindset, in order to strengthen their immune system. Healthy life starts from nature by consuming healthy and fresh foods free from coloring additives, preservatives, pesticides and other chemical substances. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables can be a way to stay healthy and there is a wide variety of fruits and veggies which give many benefits to humans if consumed regularly. This in Tibb-e-Unani (Greek Medicine) is called ‘Ilaaj Bil Ghiza’ which is arabic for treatment through diet.

There are lots of easy-to-obtain fruits and veggies in the market to help keep body in good physical shape and free from diseases. One of the easily cultivated vegetables with high health benefits is cucumber. Cucumber, (Cucumis sativus) is one of the most common vegetable to be found worldwide. It is easy to nurture, and needs only a short period of time to harvest. Surprisingly, it has so many health benefits and is often referred to as a super food.

There are at least six health benefits you get from eating cucumbers:

1.      Vitamin B Source

For people having intolerable stress from work or from daily routines, consuming cucumbers can really help to ease the pressure. Cucumbers contain high vitamin B that helps people get rid of stress, reduce anxiety, decrease depression, strengthen the memory, lessen pre-menstrual syndrome and even diminish the risks of heart attack. Consume cucumbers and you will not need cigarettes or drugs to relax.

2.      Dehydration Preventer

There are many varieties of cucumbers and all of them contain 95% water which is needed by the human body to prevent dehydration. Eating more cucumbers everyday helps our body rehydrate and also helps the process of detoxification in our body.  Consuming cucumbers with its skin every day suffices the daily needs of vitamins and people eating cucumbers regularly will have radiant skin as the need for vitamin C is fulfilled.

3.      Anti Cancer Agent

Cancer is the first of the deadliest diseases people are afraid of. Luckily, by eating cucumbers we can stay away from any frightening cancers such as ovarian cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and other types of malignant cells.  The three lignin’s in cucumber, pinoresinol, lariciresinol, and secoisolariciresinol are proven to be effective to prevent cancers.

4.      Diabetes, Cholesterol, and BP controller 

Modern people really have big problems with their eating habits and lifestyle which cause disorders such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and also high level of glucose in their blood which eventually leads to diabetes. Cucumber is rich with sterols, potassium, fiber and magnesium which are beneficial to treat those health problems.  Sterol can help reduce high cholesterol while the other substances can help regulate blood pressure. Arthritis Pain Reliever

The older we are, the less elastic our joints become. Older people will experience problems with their joints such as gout and arthritis pain. As cucumbers contain silica which strengthens the connective tissues, eating them can promote better and healthier joints. There will be no more pain in the joints if we consume cucumbers regularly.

5.    Weight Loss Agent

Another side effect of modern life style is obesity. There are more and more people who become obese and it is dangerous because obesity triggers many kinds of diseases.  Cucumbers have high content of water and very low calories so it is a great food if you are on a diet. Its high fiber will also work well in our digestion systems to prevent constipation. Losing weight can be easier by consuming cucumbers.  

Maximize the Benefit
The most effective form by which all these benefits can be achieved is making cucumber juice. If made into juice, cucumbers can create a hormone which helps pancreas cells to produce insulin to treat diabetes. Juice are a very immediate form of treatment. Experiments have shown the nutrients from natural juices enter the blood stream within fifteen minutes of consumption. If you feel cucumber juice is not right for you then add an apple to the recipe. Cucumber and apple juice will easily get you addicted.

THE HISTORY OF UNANI MEDICINE

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Not much was known about Unani Tibb although there were thousands of books and literature talking about various alternative herbal medicine and their contributions to the medical world. Public started paying attention to it when it was brought to India and some other southern Asian countries where it has been emerging very rapidly ever since. Unani medicine is one of the most effective alternative methods to help people cure diseases and treat their health problems by empowering the patients’ body and soul. Unani-Tibb was not really famous because before, most people only knew that alternative healing could give cheap, easy and less painful medication compared to chemical medicine obtained at the hospitals. They were not fully aware that many types of alternative and natural healing really existed. One of the used-to-be-less-known alternative medication which starts growing into fame is Unani-Tibb, the Greek medication. Unani-Tibb or Greek medication was actually originated in Egypt long time ago, when Imhotep was ruling the country. Yet, it was not until Hippocrates time from 460-377 BC that it was admitted as part of science. Hippocrates, the Greek philosopher, included Unani healing in his teaching, making people more interested in medicines. In ancient times, illnesses and diseases were always related to superstitions, black magic and other supernatural things, so was the medication system used to heal the diseases. All problems in health, be it an individual sickness or an endemic illness, were always related to witch, curses, bad deeds and similar things. Hippocrates, followed by more Unani-Tibb physicians made the breakthrough and separated medical world from those supernatural things.

After Hippocrates, more Greek scholars joined into the teaching and learning of Unani medicines and they helped a lot in the development of this self-empowering and natural healing method. Galen who lived from 131-210 AD established several foundations which later on influenced and inspired the physicians from Arab countries such as Rhazes and more prominently to Ibn Sina (Avicenna) who lived from 980-1037 AD. These two doctors built a very imposing edifice of Unani medicine in the world. Soon afterward this self-empoweringmedication became widely known, given, taught, and learned in more countries. What makes Unani healing get even better is that in each of the countries where it is developed, it is adapted and enriched with the best local medication such as in China, Egypt, India, Iraq, Persia, Syria, and more countries in Far East and Middle East. It is, however, in India in Mughal period that Unani healing thrived very quickly and attained its biggest achievements. It was firstly introduced by the Arab visitors and well-accepted by the locals as it was proven to be very effective to heal diseases without giving side effects to human’s body. More and more physicians and scholars studying Unani medicines from Shiraz, Galan and Tabrez moved to India when Mongols wreaked havoc on the areas and it definitely made the development of Unani enhanced so rapidly. Those scholars and physicians were even given very good positions in the governments by the emperors in India such as the Sultan of Delhi, the Khiljis Emperor, the Mughal Emperor and also the Tughlaqs Emperor. Unani medicine reached its golden moment between 13th until 17th century in India from the contribution of great physician such as Sadruddin Damashqui, Abu Bakr Bin Ali Usman Ksahani, Akbal Arzani, Muhammaf Hashim Alvi Khan and many more. The development of Unani medicine in India is not without any obstacles. In the period of British rule in India, the progress of this natural healing was nearly hampered as a result of government patronage withdrawal. Luckily, the support from the influential people including the Azizi family from Lucknow, the Sharifi family from Delhi and the Nizam family from Hyderabad enabled this Unani to survive and flourish even more.

A Visit To Ajmal Factory

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Originally from Pakistan, I am at present teaching at the Faculty of Pharmacy of Angers University in France. Having remarked that since the last two decades there is a growing interest in plant therapy throughout Europe, I decided that I shall try to visit an oriental pharmacy (dawakhana) during a visit to Pakistan. This opportunity was presented to me in August 2008 when I was in Pakistan during the summer vacations.

How could I then skip the temptation of visiting the factory of Dawakhana Hakeem Ajmal Khan? So while in Lahore in August 2008, I contacted Mr Tanveer Nabi Khan, one of the Directors of the Dawakhana and requested him for such a possibility, to which he graciously agreed. I was with my wife who has specialized in Medical and Biological Analysis and have worked in different French hospitals, and was also very keen on this visit. It was a pleasure to meet Mr Tanveer Nabi, a soft-spoken and amiable gentleman with an amicable smile. He warmly welcomed us at the Factory and personally accompanied us on a detailed visit of their Dawakhana. We were accompanied by the Factory Manager, Mr Akhtar and the Factory Supervisor, Mr Shahzad Haydar, and they aptly explained to us the technical details of the procedures involved at each and every step of manufacture. The Factory, of course, is ISO certified.

We were under the impression that we shall see old-fashioned preparations of medicines with alembic – the medieval distilling apparatus, pestle and mortar, and so on. We were indeed agreeably surprised to see that the whole factory was organized on modern footings with up to date techniques.

The storage of the medical plants and herbs was located in the cellar. All the deliveries are stored systematically in order to facilitate their ready availability when required for any further use. Whenever a medicine is to be prepared, the required raw material is sent to the formulation department where after weighing according to the formula, the calculated masses undergo grinding and mixing in automated machines.This is the operation if the finished product is to be a tablet. The tablet machine churns out at regular intervals tablets which are then passed through a dryer and are then fed into the packing machine. Strips of tablets are collected in trays, ready to be sent to the dispatch section.

I was impressed to see that the whole procedure was very hygienic, although for my wife it was very normal. All workers wore chemical blouses, head coverings, masks, and hand gloves and no material was touched by human hand. This is an enormous progress since the standard that I had known thirty years back, and which were prevalent in Pakistan then, had no room for such cleanliness and hygiene.

The other side of the Factory was meant for fluid and paste preparations, Here we learnt the differences between 'jawarish' (paste with coarse particles) and 'majoon' (paste with fine particles). In the section where liquid preparations were being made, we learnt the vocabulary 'qawam' (syrup), 'arq' (extract), 'joshanda' (decoction of liquid after boiling, and also 'khameera' which is joshanda prepared with 'sheera' (sweetened liquid).

All these varieties of medicines are made with the raw material brought from the godown, weighed and then boiled with sugar and/or honey. After the formula preparation, filling, bottling and packing of the liquids, as well as those of 'khameera' in plastic capsules, are all carried out in fully automatic machines. This automatism is extended administratively as the order, contract, and dispatch numbers are also automatically recorded. In this connection, what astonished us was that, with the exception of a tablet machine, all machines were locally made!

Scientifically, I was very satisfied with the visit and the warmth of the reception that we received. Nevertheless, there are areas where improvement is advisable. I saw a well-furnished research laboratory with good possibilities of doing some sort of research work. However, this laboratory is only being used for quality controls. Being a research scientist, I was pained to see the utilisation of the research laboratory solely for routine procedures. It would be a great contribution to medical sciences, Unani as well as modern plant therapy, if the Dawakhana Hakeem Ajmal Khan activates its research section. It can start by carrying out in-depth investigations on its age-old prescriptions which will certainly open new horizons for new formulations.

Back in France, I related my experience to my colleagues in the Pharmacognosy and the Pharmacodynamics Departments. They showed interest in an eventual collaboration and a possible conflation of the two, so widely different, versions of pharmaceutical preparations. Let us hope that some sort of co-operation in this regard will be established soon.

*The writer is Associate Professor at the Pharmacy Faculty of the University of Angers, France

 

 

 

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