Monday, June 13, 2005

The Medicinal Properties of Ancient Date Trees

Apparently ancient date trees, now in vogue because one has been germinated in Israel, had Medicinal properties.

Sallon said the project is more than a curiosity. She and her colleagues hope it may hold promise for the future, like the anti-malarial treatment artemisinin, developed out of traditional Chinese plant treatment, and a cancer medicine made from the bark of the Pacific Yew tree.

"Dates were highly medicinal. They had an enormous amount of use in ancient times for infections, for tumors, " she said. "We're researching medicinal plants for all we're worth, we think that ancient medicines of the past can be the medicines of the future."

So I went to look this up in the Herbal of Discorides and found the following:

Poma, Phoenix dactylifera — Dates, Date Palm
Phoenix sylvestris — Wild Palm

The palm tree grows in Egypt. The fruit is gathered in
the autumn, the ripening time being half over. It is
similar to the Arabic myrobalan [1-40, 4-160] and it is called
poma. It is a green colour, and similar to cydonium [1-160]
in smell, but if it is left alone until it comes to the full
ripeness it becomes dates. It is sour and astringent and is
taken in a drink with hard wine for discharges from tooth
sockets and the menstrual flows of women. It stops
haemorrhoids and glues wounds together if it is rubbed
on. Fresh dates are more astringent than dried. They
cause headaches and if eaten in too great an abundance
with meat they inebriate. Dried dates eaten with meat are
good for blood-spitting, the stomach, and dysentery. It is
pounded into small pieces with cydonium [1-160] and the
waxy ointment oenanthinum [from vine shoots or
blossoms] and rubbed on for disorders of the bladder.
The caryotae [pips, seeds] heal roughness of the arteries if

It's interesting, too, about the name of date palms.

Sallon said the tree shares its botanical name, Phoenix Dactylifera, with the mythological Phoenix bird, which the ancient Egyptians and Greeks believed was reincarnated in a flaming nest at the end of its life. Date seeds were placed in the tombs of Pharaohs as a symbol of immortality, she added.

"It's thought that the tree was named after the Phoenix or the Phoenix was called after the palm tree because of its incredible powers of rejuvenation, because in a way it never died," she said.

Previous post on this subject: An Israeli Date Palm 2000 Years in the Making


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