Despite the influence of modern medicine, traditional herbal medicine has always been practiced in the Arab-Islamic world, rooted in ancient Arabic-Islamic medicine. In the Middle Ages, Arab herbalists, pharmacologists, chemists, and physicians adapted the ancient medicinal practices of Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, Persia, and India. Medical innovations introduced by Arab physicians included: the discovery of the immune system, the introduction of microbiological science, and the separation of medicine from pharmacological science. Today, cultural beliefs and practices often lead to self-care or home remedies in rural areas and consultation with traditional healers, naturopathic doctors and herbalists in the Mediterranean region for issues such as infertility, diabetes, obesity and epilepsy. Data collected from several surveys and studies indicate that there is a flourishing and well-developed trade in herbs in the Eastern Mediterranean region. These surveys reveal that 600 herbs (From 2,600 Palestinian plants species ) are used to treat human diseases and are sold or traded in market-places in the Mediterranean region and internationally.
Pharmaceutical industry from medicinal plants is a growing economic sector. Around 40% of modern medications are composed from botanic origin. According to international estimates there are 250,000 species of plants, of which 90% have been classified. Medicinal plants consist of about 3-5% of all plants and only about 5,000 species of medicinal plants have been studied. From the 2,600 known Palestinian plants species about 600 (22%) are medicinal plants. This indicates the potential for the development of indigenous medicinal plants in creating a basis for a modern pharmaceutical industry in the region.
Select Research Projects:
Anti-psoriatic Effects of Hypericum triquetrifolium and Paganum harmala Derived Factors are Mediated by Inflammatory and Anti-inflammatory Cytokines
Current treatments for psoriasis have significant adverse side effects. This study explores the feasibility of two plants used in traditional Arabic medicine to treat psoriasis, Hypericum triquetrifolium (St. John’s Wart) and Peganum harmala (Harmal). Existing studies suggest that changes in cytokine production in skin cells may have an important role in creating the inflammatory response in psoriasis. We focus on the effects of these two plants on the production levels of both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines.
Researchers: Dr. Bashar Saad, Dr. Hassan Azaizeh, Dr. Omar Said, The Galilee Society Institute of Applied Research. Prof. Yoram Milner, Hebrew University. Fund: Ministry of Science and Technology.
Anti Acne Effects of Traditional Medicinal Plants
Acne is a chronic inflammatory disease unique to human sebaceous glands and the infundibulum of pilosebaceous units (PSUs), through which sebum makes its exit to the skin surface. The disease usually affects the face, upper back, or chest, causing lesions of different grades, from non-inflammatory comedones (plugs), to inflammatory papules, pustules and nodule-cystic lesions. Acne vulgaris affects 70%-90% of adolescents and usually resolves spontaneously before age 25; although in some cases it may begin later and persist longer. While it lasts it is a great source of discomfort and psychological stress to patients, and in severe cases it can leave permanent scars (pits) in affected skin. In this study we propose to develop improved anti-acne preparations from traditional Arab medicinal plants. Our studies will be interdisciplinary, combining agriculture, ethnobotany, biochemistry, cell biology and medicine. We will pursue objectives in four different levels of enterprise: science, public health, education, and regional economic development.
Researchers: Dr. Bashar Saad, Dr. Omar Said, The Galilee Society Institute of Applied Research. Prof. Yoram Milner, Hebrew University.
Fund: Ministry of Science and Technology.
Examination of Recovery and Use of Polyphenoles from Olive Wastes for Innovative Products
The olive oil industry represents one of the most economically important agro-food sectors in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries, including Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. This industry generates vast amounts of unexploited agronomic residues, composed of olive mill waste-water (OMW) and olive mill solid wastes (OMSW), which at the same time pose acute environmental problems in the region. World wide, every year 1.4 – 1.8 million tons of olive oil are produced resulting in 30 millions cubic meters of OMW per year. These wastes are acidic, have extremely high Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) values, and contain high levels of polyphenols. OMW, in particular, can create environmental problems when disposed of as untreated waste because of its high organic load, elevated concentration of polyphenols, and moderately low biodegradability. While some research has been done to solve these problems, no economically efficient solutions have yet been formulated for both solid and liquid wastes. The ultimate goal of the current project is to utilize the olive mill wastes (OMW) produced in the Mediterranean region during olive oil extraction for the production of economical and environmentally safe antioxidants and antimicrobial products with innovative uses.
Researchers: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Martin FAULSTICH (PI), Dr. Herbert RIEPL (Chemist), Institute of Technology of Biogenic Resources (TBR), Technical University of Munich; Dr. Hassan AZAIZEH, and Dr. Ahmed TAFESH, Dr. Jeries Jadoun and Dr. Naim Najami, the Regional Research and Development Center, the Galilee Society. Fund: Biodisc-Ministry of science and technology. The research proposal was submitted by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Martin FAULSTICH, TBR, Germany.
Medicinal plants- a potential source for antimicrobial and anti-pathogenic compounds
Since their discovery, antibiotics have been widely used in human medicine to treat and prevent bacterial infections. However, overuse and misuse of antibiotic drugs has eventually resulted in the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria. Given the alarming and increasing incidence of antibiotic resistance in bacteria of medical importance, and the paucity of effective antibiotic drugs against multi -drug-resistant bacteria, there is a constant need for new and effective therapeutic agents. Medicinal plants have traditionally been used to combat diseases and they gain increasing interest as sources of agents to fight microbial diseases. In the view of the realization that the effective life span of any antibiotic is limited, medicinal plants became lately a topic of much research either for validation of their therapeutic potential or for drug discovery purposes. Medicinal plants may be used to control microbial infections not only through their antimicrobial effect but also their ability to inhibit bio-film formation. Several bacterial pathogens have been shown to associate with, and in some cases, actually grow in bio-films in the human host. The proposed study is among very few studies aimed at investigating not only the antimicrobial potential but also the anti-pathogenic potential of medicinal plant extracts/isolated compounds, with particular emphasis on bio-film formation.
Researchers: Dr. Jeries Jadoun (PI) and Dr. Hassan Azaizeh, the R & D Center, Galilee Society. Fund: Ministry of science and technology.
Utilization of olive oil Waste water ingredients for a bio-control preservation of food & The Biological control of storage diseases using bio-active safe ingredients from Olive mill waste-water
The olive oil industry generates huge amounts of unexploited agronomic residues, composed of olive mill waste-water (OMW) and olive mill solid wastes (OMSW), which at the same time pose acute environmental problems in the region. In the olive fruits there is a large amount of bioactive compounds and substances of high interest. Many of them are known by owing health beneficial properties that contribute to protective effect of the virgin olive oil. The OMW produced during oil extraction has been proposed as a low-cost substrate for production of economic products such as xanthan, ethanol, and phenol oxidases such as laccase and Mn-Peroxidase. The production of biologically active compounds from OMW, such as phenolic antioxidants and antimicrobial products has been investigated intensively. Post-harvest diseases limit the storage period and marketing life of fruits and vegetables, and causes high economical losses. Post-harvest disease control has become more challenging due to the limited number of registered fungicides, fungicide resistance, consumers’ desire for reduced fungicide residues, and demand for blemish-free, high quality product. The ultimate goal of the current project is to utilize the OMW produced in the Mediterranean region during olive oil extraction for the production of economical and environmentally safe antifungal products with innovative uses.
Researchers:(Dr. Ahmed TAFESH (PI) and Dr. Hassan AZAIZEH, Dr. Jeries Jadoun, Dr. Naim Najami; Fares Halahleh (RA), R &D Center, the Galilee Society. Fund: Ministry of science and technology).