Middle Eastern Myths or Miracles

Photo Credits: healthfooddream

Traditional beauty hacks vs. Facts

Twas the night before my graduation, and a pimple right between my eyebrows, which doubled as a practice target, haunted me. I began to panic when my mother, always the resourceful person, decided that myrrh was the only solution. She stood hunched over the sink like a mad scientist in her long floral nightgown, grinding myrrh and mixing it with water. She rubbed the mixture on my forehead overnight. It’s safe to say that I woke with the same pimple that now smelled foul, and access luggage under my eyes, which she also had a cure for.

My mom’s concoction didn’t work that time, but it got me wondering. I compiled some of the Middle East’s traditional remedies and, in consultation with an expert, determined whether it was a miracle or a myth.

Nail Biter

Photo Credits: Medscape

Photo Credits: Medscape

I was a biter, a nail-biter that is. My nails were always too short rendering them weak. She could never get me to stop, so instead she would dip my nails in dill and horsetail soaked in water. The taste would ward me off of biting them.

Expert verdict: Miracle.

Our expert Carina Huwari, a pharmacist, says that dill has nail-strengthening agents. It has a high nutritional value of essential oils, fatty oils and mineral salts. As for horsetail it has silica, and is rich in vitamins and minerals as calcium, zinc and B5.

Whitening With Lemon


We each had lemon slices in our toilets. Twice a day, we would rub the lemon on our knees to whiten them. My sisters and I had dark knees, something commonly known as the Saudi curse. This routine is priceless in our household, much like the expression on my father’s face when he sees two boxes of lemons on the grocery list.

Expert verdict: Miracle.

Our expert says lemon is loaded with vitamin C, which has antioxidants that fight free radicals that result in adult skin. Vitamin C also decreases the production of melanin. It gets rid of the accumulated dead skin cells on the surface of the dermis and tightens the pores.

Homemade Masks for Wrinkles


One of my mother’s proudest achievements, other than her children, is her homemade mask. A strange, and I’m ashamed to say tasty, mixture of honey, cucumber, yogurt and rose water to soften skin and reduce wrinkles. This particular recipe has been passed down from generations of Saudi women to eventually find its way to a bowl in my bathroom.

Expert opinion: Miracle.

Our expert says that honey has antibacterial properties due to high content of sugar. It provides nutrition for the skin as well as hydration. Its richness with the antioxidants serves as an anti-aging factor. Rich in water, vitamin E and other nutrients, cucumber softens and hydrates the skin. It also has a decongestant effect. The yogurt contains lactic acid, which gently exfoliates and smoothes the skin.

Despite the large target on my forehead in all my graduation pictures, there is merit in most of the traditional remedies my mother passed on to me. Maybe I should have listened to her more often because three out of four ain’t bad.

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