Herbs, or what is called alternative medicine or treatment, have become popular among the population, many of whom are unable to obtain treatment from pharmacies and hospitals, whether because they were closed and out of service due to the Israeli bombing or to direct many medicines to treat those injured in the war.

Almost empty pharmacies

Muhammad Al-Sawyer, who lives with his family in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip after he was displaced there from Gaza City, says that he began searching for a mixture of herbs to treat intestinal problems and constipation, which he began suffering from more than a month ago, after he failed to obtain treatment in pharmacies. .

Al-Sawyer added to Sky News Arabia: “I had been taking a treatment for constipation for more than 5 years, but I did not find it after I searched for it in all the city’s pharmacies,” pointing out that he accidentally found an alternative treatment in a pharmacy, but it had no effectiveness. In the face of what he suffers.

As for treatment in the hospital, Al-Sawyer says: “I cannot go to hospitals that are crowded with patients and injured around the clock, and in light of the continuing Israeli bombing operations on the city of Rafah, so I did not find an alternative except some herbal treatments.”

In turn, the pharmacist, Khaled Odeh, told Sky News Arabia that the majority of pharmacies in Rafah have become empty of the simplest types of medicines, including painkillers and antibiotics, due to the population density in the city, which now includes about 1.4 million Palestinians.

According to Odeh, most pharmacies only open their doors to sell some health items for women and children, if available, and some cosmetics, quantities of which are still available in the Gaza Strip.

Increasing demand for herbs

As a specialist in the field, Dr. Nasser Hassanein, an expert in Indian herbs and director of the Rafah Center for Medicinal Herbs, confirms that there is an increasing demand in the Gaza Strip for alternative medicine or herbal treatment, and this demand has become more noticeable during the ongoing war on the Strip.

Hassanein added to Sky News Arabia that he "found a greater need for his center as the war continued, which prompted him to activate electronic communication through groups on the WhatsApp application, to answer as many inquiries as possible from those in need of treatment without receiving any compensation."

Electronic communication also helped the Palestinian herbalist to increase his experience by expanding his circle of contacts with specialists in the same field.

Regarding this, Hassanein says: “I cooperated with experienced doctors working in the field of herbal treatment in Yemen, Iraq and Jordan, who volunteered free of charge to answer inquiries related to some of the most common diseases and symptoms among Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”

Among these diseases, which are particularly linked to war, as Hassanein explains, are those related to the digestive system, and are caused by the types of canned food on which reliance has increased, due to the preservatives they contain, after fresh traditional cooking dishes consisting of meat, fish, fruits and vegetables have become scarce. Amid displacement or high prices.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced from the cities of northern and central Gaza Strip under the weight of the Israeli bombing of homes there, which has continued since the outbreak of war on October 7.

Doctors are trying to search for recipes from available herbs that are easy to obtain, says Hassanein, pointing out that “types of herbs no longer exist in Rafah because they were grown on agricultural lands in the center and east of the Strip, and it has become difficult for farmers to access them now due to their proximity to The borders and the locations of the Israeli army vehicles that constantly fire on farmers.”

Hassanein continued, explaining: “We are forced to give alternative herbs from those available, even if they are less effective, and we rely in writing treatment prescriptions on what we know is available from the herbalists in the city.”

According to pharmacist Odeh, “Treatment with herbs or alternative medicine requires supervision by competent authorities, especially since this type of herbs often does not take into account the differences between disease states and the extent of symptoms they can cause.”