How to make use of the natural herbs and food and understanding their benefits during now and Ramadan in the COVID-19 pandemic - By Hafsa and Najib
Hello and Salam (Peace) to all,
I hope this article finds you and your loved ones well, safe and with good health in the comfort of your homes during this COVID-19 pandemic. I pray for all a steady and good recovery.
The reason why I wanted to write this article as many people are aware of many food and herbs that are beneficial but either do not know why or they do not know how to use them. I have shared the tips below which I use and have found them helpful.
Many do not agree that herbal medications do help. However, I am from the balanced perspective where it does help lower symptoms, however it should not replace your current medications. Herbal medicine is made from natural plants but being natural does not suggest it is safe to use - the majority are safe. Herbal medicine is less understood, however within clinical research, many are starting to see the goodness in them and are making further investigations and studies to help make new treatments. I have written this article on a level where everyone can understand.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar where many Muslims around the world fast (do not eat or drink) during the day and can only eat before dawn and after sunset. Eid ul Fitr (Festival of Breaking the Fast) is the celebration marking the end of Ramadan. During Ramadan, we reflect, improve, seek forgiveness, think about the poor and worship God. However, those who have menstruation (on their periods), travelling, are not feeling well, very old, pregnant and very young children should not fast.
Corona-viruses can be passed around between animals and humans, hand contact on shopping carts, elevators and other areas. Therefore, hand washing practice is important. Among the signs, we can feel are fever, coughing, chest pain and difficulty of breathing. Other symptoms can also be expressed. People with heart disease, asthma, lung diseases, diabetes, low immunity, the elderly and young children are at risk of getting the virus. The European Food Safety Authority has informed that the virus cannot spread around by eating food but food that have been contaminated (have germs and not clean). This can then make us feel unwell.
Therefore, I advise that I do which is the following and I hope it helps:
1) Always disinfect the house
2) Keep fresh food away from cooked food
3) Wash fruits and vegetables with one tablespoon of salt in a bowl of water or you can add a small teaspoon of vinegar before use.
4) Heat food around 70 degrees
5) Wash hands routinely
6) Cover face when sneezing.
7) Do not overcook as it will remove the vitamins
It is important to note that viruses should not be mixed up with bacteria. Bacteria can die using antibiotics whereas it will not work on viruses. Therefore, having Paracetamol or Ibuprofen can help with viral infections but should not be overly used.
Moreover, we as humans should eat with moderation and have a balanced diet. Many natural foods have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Antioxidants help protect our body from chemicals that can harm us if their levels are high. Inflammation is how our body reacts to infection making us feel unwell.
Among the advice provided by the World Health Organisation, National Health Service and other health authorities to:
To drink lots of water.
This is because water helps send nutrients around the body via the blood to keep us healthy, it also monitors our temperature and gets rid of things we do not need. Therefore, it is advised to drink at least 8 cups of water a day.
Please try to avoid fizzy drinks, syrups, caffeine and fruit juice concentrates. Having natural smoothie drinks has many benefits, please try these tips, you can add sugar if you wish:
1) One apple, one tomato (remove the seeds) and one orange blended with 2 cups of water.
2) One celery with one apple and 2 cups of water.
Eating fruits and vegetables
They have high levels of vitamins such as Vitamin C which can increase the antioxidant properties whereas Vitamin D can strengthen our bones. Vitamin A, B6 and B12 can keep us active and boost our immune system by making antibodies which protects our bodies from harm.
Vegetables such as garlic contain a natural chemical called allicin which boosts our immune system.
A tip which I advise is to grind one clove of garlic with ginger. This is followed by adding one tablespoon of lemon/lime, stir the mixture together and have it once in the morning.
Moreover, we should the limit the use of fats and oils and go for healthy oils such as olive, avocado and corn.
A Dish to try!
Bisara is a North African dish that is both healthy and enjoyable to have with your family. It is made with Fava beans, however, other countries use other types of beans.
1) 1 and a half or 2 cups of split Fava beans in warm water overnight.
2) The following day, remove the water, add the fava beans to a pot with around 3 and a half or 4 cups of water and let it boil under low temperature up to an hour.
3) Stir it, then add 1 red onion (chopped small), 3 or 4 chopped cloves of garlic, and 1 teaspoon cumin powder and half a teaspoon of salt.
4) You will find a paste that similar to Tahina has been made, add the Bisara to a bowl and decorate with one tablespoon of virgin olive oil
Here are more health tips of herbs and food that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
"And a tree (olive) that springs forth from Mount Sinai, that grows oil, and it is a relish for the eaters. (Quran 23:20).
The description of Paradise which the Muttaqun (pious have been promised is that in it are rivers of water the taste and smell of which are not changed; rivers of milk of which the taste never changes; rivers of wine delicious to those who drink; and rivers of clarified honey (clear and pure) therein for them is every kind of fruit; and forgiveness from their Lord. (Are these) like those who shall dwell for ever in the Fire, and be given, to drink, boiling water, so that it cuts up their bowels? (Quran 47:15).
The phrase ‘clean’ and ‘pure’ opens the door of how beneficial it is:
In Suhoor or a normal day, you can mix warm water, few black seeds and add one spoon, honey.
Black seed (Nigella sativa)
For centuries, black seeds have been known for their ability to heal, however, many are still unaware of how to use it.
As a seed
You can add half a teaspoon in a date and eat it during Suhoor (before dawn) or Iftar or you can have it in the morning generally.
Black seeds can also be added if you are making home-made bread.
Another tip is to add half a teaspoon with honey and have it in the morning and once before you go to sleep.
Black seed oil
This is equally beneficial where you can massage your chest with it, or you can add a little of oil below your nose and above your lips.
You can also have one teaspoon in the morning.
Black seed oil can also be added as a dressing on a salad.
Aisha reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “This black seed is healing for all diseases but poison.” She said, “What is poison?” The Prophet said, “Death.” [Sahih Al Bukhari 5363]
Add 2 cardamoms with 2 cloves in boiling water on a pan. Breath the scent a few times in the morning and evening.
half a teaspoon with the other half being honey.
Moreover, despite there are so many benefits, some of the citrus fruits such as grapefruit and pineapple are not good to have with medications as it cannot stop your normal medications from working. Similarly, Soy can stop thyroid drugs from working. Having high potassium can cause your heart to stop working properly.
The keyword is balancing and I hope these tips have helped out.
European Food Safety Authority (2020) Coronavirus: no evidence that food is a source or transmission route. Available online: www.efsa.europa.eu/en/news/coronavirus-no-evidence-food-source-or-transmission-route [Access 14th April 2020]
Martineau, A., Jolliffe, D., Hooper, R., Greenberg, L., Aloia, J., Bergman, P., Dubnov-Raz, G., Esposito, S., Ganmaa, D., Ginde, A., Goodall, E., Grant, C., Griffiths, C., Janssens, W., Laaksi, I., Manaseki-Holland, S., Mauger, D., Murdoch, D., Neale, R., Rees, J., Simpson, S., Stelmach, I., Kumar, G., Urashima, M. and Camargo, C., (2017) Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. BMJ, p.i6583.
Nature Plants, (2020) Redeploying plant defences. 6(3), pp.177-177.
UK Government (2020) Commission on Human Medicines advice on ibuprofen and coronavirus (COVID-19) Available online: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/commission-on-human-medicines-advice-on-ibuprofen-and-coronavirus-covid-19 [14th April 2020.
World Health Organisation (2020) Nutrition advice for adults during the COVID-19 outbreak [Available online] http://www.emro.who.int/nutrition/nutrition-infocus/nutrition-advice-for-adults-during-the-covid-19-outbreak.html [Access 14th April 2020]