top of page

Traditional Qatari Herbal Practices: A Symphony of Wellness

Written by Camille Baekelandt 

Photos: Marie-Josée Bédard

Nestled within the rich cultural tapestry of Qatar is a longstanding tradition of harnessing the power of herbs and seeds for both culinary delights and holistic health. Let's unravel the stories behind the traditional uses of specific herbs and seeds, offering insight into the wellness practices of the local Qatari people.

Black Lemon (Loomi): Culinary Marvel and Digestive Aid:

Black lemon, affectionately known as loomi, serves as a culinary masterpiece in Qatari kitchens. Its distinct tangy flavor elevates various dishes, becoming a staple ingredient. Beyond its culinary prowess, black lemon is revered in traditional remedies, with Qatari culture attributing it to aiding digestion. Its unique taste not only enhances the culinary experience but also potentially contributes to digestive well-being.

Respiratory Support: In the realm of local practices, black lemon extends its influence to respiratory health. Whether brewed in teas or incorporated into poultices, it is believed to hold benefits for the respiratory system. This becomes particularly relevant during seasons marked by respiratory discomfort, adding a touch of holistic care to overall well-being.

To use dried black lemon, simply break it into pieces and add them to your preparations. The lemon will rehydrate upon contact with liquids. You can also grind the dried black lemon into a powder using a mortar and pestle or an electric grinder and use it to flavor pastries or sauces.

Some Recipe Ideas with Dried Black Lemon

  • - Dried Black Lemon Rice: Add finely chopped dried black lemon to your rice during cooking for a zesty and complex flavor. Garnish with fresh parsley for a light and aromatic dish;

  • - Lemon-infused Couscous: Incorporate pieces of dried black lemon into your couscous, accompanied by roasted vegetables, chickpeas, and fresh herbs for an explosion of flavors;

  • - Grilled Chicken with Dried Black Lemon: Marinate chicken pieces with dried black lemon, garlic, olive oil, and herbs before grilling. Serve with a yogurt sauce for a wonderfully aromatic meal;

  • - Salmon with Dried Black Lemon and Herbs: Season salmon fillets with dried black lemon, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs before baking. The dried black lemon will add a zesty and aromatic dimension to the fish;

  • - Dried Black Lemon Vinaigrette: Prepare a dressing by mixing finely chopped dried black lemon with olive oil, vinegar, minced garlic, and honey. Ideal for green salads or grilled vegetables.

Frankincense and Myrrh: Ancient Resins for Well-being:

Both frankincense and myrrh are resins – hardened sap from trees. In both cases, trees are slashed and allowed to “bleed.” The sap that comes from the trees hardens and forms beads or “tears.” While frankincense is used for incense and myrrh is mainly used in oral preparations, they both have many more uses. Frankincense and myrrh, beyond their symbolic significance, play a tangible role in traditional Qatari health practices.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties: These ancient resins are esteemed for their believed anti- inflammatory properties. In the intricate web of traditional applications, frankincense and myrrh find purpose in addressing internal and external inflammation. From respiratory challenges to skin conditions, these resins are cherished for their potential in promoting overall well-being.

How to make frankincense and myrrh oil

If you want to make frankincense and myrrh directly from the resin (which can be purchased online) follow these steps:

  1. Grind the resin using a pestle and mortar (freezing them for 24 hours can make this easier).

  2. Place into a heat-proof bowl and let it rest in a bath of boiling water.

  3. Leave the bowl in the water for 45-60 minutes.

  4. Remove from the water and use a coffee filter or cheese cloth to strain the resin. Push the oil through the filter or leave it for an hour to naturally filter through.

  5. Let the extracted oil cool and place in a cool, dry space ready for use.

You can add more essential oils to the mix, to further enhance the properties and to enjoy your own homemade oil. Before using this blend on your skin, be sure to mix it with a carrier oil.

How to use frankincense and myrrh essential oil

Dilute with your carrier oil of choice and add a few drops to your pulse points or bottom of your feet. Another option is to mix it with your favorite moisturizer or body lotion as part of your daily skincare routine.

You can also diffuse frankincense or myrrh with an oil diffuser, so you simply inhale its properties as you relax and unwind at home. Some people inhale the oil directly from the bottle or by adding a few drops to a cloth or towel, leaving it under their pillow as they sleep at night.

Other ways of using frankincense or myrrh oil include diluting with a carrier oil before using it as a massage oil or adding the oils to a warm bath. They are also commonly used as part of candle and soap recipes, as well as potpourri mixtures.

Candied Almonds with Frankincense


  • 175 grams raw almonds

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 3⁄4 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar

  • 4 drops frankincense essential oil

Herbs Almadinah (Mint): Refreshing Minty Delight:

Herbs like mint, locally referred to as almadinah, bring a

refreshing burst of flavor to the palate, coupled with potential health benefits.

Digestive Comfort: Mint, often enjoyed as a comforting tea, is believed to extend its benefits to digestion. Its calming properties go beyond mere flavor, contributing to a sense of well- being after meals. The ritualistic consumption of mint tea embodies a holistic approach to digestive health.


Water- 2 cups Tea leaves – 2 tablespoons Mint leaves- a handful, lightly crushed Honey to taste

Heat water in a vessel and add the tea leaves, mint and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and strain. Add honey to taste.

Circae (Senna): Nature's laxative:

Circae, known as senna, occupies a significant place in the realm of

traditional herbal practices, particularly for digestive harmony.

Gentle Laxative Effects: Senna, utilized as a natural laxative, is thought to gently alleviate constipation. Its mild yet effective nature makes it a preferred choice for addressing digestive discomfort in traditional wellness practices.

Recipe Tea;

Steep 1-2 grams of dried senna leaves in hot water for a maximum of 10 minutes. Strain in a cup and add your favorite sweetener as per taste. Do not have more than twice in one day. If you are buying a herbal tea blend that has senna, always check the amount of the herb before incorporating it into your daily diet.

Caution; Laxative!

Black Seeds (Nigella sativa):A Potent Wellness Seed:

Black seeds, scientifically identified as Nigella sativa, emerge as a powerhouse of potential health benefits within traditional Qatari practices.

Immune Support and More: Believed to fortify the immune system, black seeds are esteemed for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Whether consumed in seed form or as oil, they are considered a formidable addition to supporting overall health.

Below are some ideas on how to use black seeds in cooking. Here are few ideas for you:

  • Add black seeds to make curries, legumes and lentils based dishes especially for making yellow lentils.

  • Simply choose your vegetables, roast a teaspoon of black seeds in oil or butter and throw in your vegetables for a nutty aromatic taste.

  • Add black seeds to salads for adding aroma, taste and texture.

  • Due to the healing properties it is a very popular pickling spice to use along with mustard seeds and fennel seeds.

  • Add it as toppings to breads such as sour dough, normal breads, flat bread like parathas and naans.

  • Nigella seeds can be used to make soups and sauces. Blackseed oil

Nigella sativa or blackseed oil is valued throughout Asia and the Near East for its

curative properties. It is even mentioned in the Quran as a panacea or a cure-all.

The crushed seeds and oil have been used for a millennia both internally and

externally. For ingestion, it is often paired with honey to treat gastric problems,

parasites and chest infections. It has also been used as an emmenagogue, as well as to

increase milk flow in nursing mothers. In addition to being of internal value, it has

also been used to treat a variety of skin conditions.

This cold pressed oil is rich in over 100 different compounds, many of which are still

unknown but include essential oils, fatty acids, and various nutrients. The high levels

of polyunsaturated fatty acids make it invaluable for treating inflamed skin and is

often used in products for people with inflammatory skin problems such as psoriasis

and eczema. Since skin inflammation is the number one cause of skin ageing, it may

just be useful for that too.

Flavorful and Digestive, Yansun seeds, also recognized as Anise:

Introduce a delightful and distinct flavor profile to both culinary creations and traditional health practices.

Digestive Assistance: Anise seeds are sought after for their digestive benefits. Whether infused in teas or incorporated into culinary delights, these seeds contribute to a holistic approach to digestive comfort, showcasing the interconnectedness of flavor and well-being.

Traditional Ghee Oil: Liquid Gold for Wellness:

Traditional Ghee Oil, revered for its rich and golden texture, extends its influence beyond culinary delights.

General Health Benefits:

  1. Nutrient-Rich: Ghee is a source of essential nutrients, including fat-soluble vitamins like A, E, and D.

  2. Digestive Aid: It is believed to support digestion and absorption of nutrients.

  3. Moisturizing Elixir: Applied topically, ghee provides deep moisturization for the skin, combating dryness and promoting a healthy glow.

Ginger: The Zesty Health Booster:

Ginger, with its distinctive flavor and aroma, is a staple in traditional Qatari remedies.

General Health Benefits:

  1. Anti-Inflammatory: Ginger possesses anti-inflammatory properties that may aid in reducing inflammation in the body.

  2. Digestive Comfort: Known to alleviate digestive discomfort and nausea.

  3. Circulatory Support: Ginger is believed to improve blood circulation, contributing to overall cardiovascular health.

Honey: Nature's Sweet Nectar of Healing:

Honey, cherished for its sweetness, is a versatile

ingredient in traditional practices.

General Health Benefits:

  1. Antibacterial Properties: Honey has natural antibacterial properties, making it valuable for wound healing and preventing infections.

  2. Soothes Sore Throats: A time-honored remedy for soothing sore throats and coughs.

  3. Antioxidant Rich: Its antioxidant content supports overall health and wellness.

Baklava and Basboussa are the most famous desserts to try in Qatar which you will find at almost all the bakeries here

Cardamom: Aromatic Spice for Well-being:

Cardamom, with its warm and aromatic flavor, adds a touch of traditional charm to Qatari culinary and wellness practices. They use this spice in their Arabic coffee.

General Health Benefits:

  1. Digestive Aid: Cardamom is known for its digestive properties, helping to alleviate bloating and discomfort.

  2. Antioxidant Powerhouse: Rich in antioxidants, cardamom supports overall cellular health.

  3. Respiratory Health: Traditionally used to relieve respiratory issues, providing a sense of relief.

Qatari Bazaar Recipe:

(Can be used for 10-15 servings / Keep in airtight jar and use as required)

  • 1 cup of cumin seeds

  • 1 cup of coriander seeds

  • 1⁄2 cup of black lemon ground

  • 1⁄2 cup of ginger powder

  • 1⁄2 cup of cinnamon powder

  • 1⁄2 cup turmeric powder

  • 1⁄2 cup ground black pepper

  • Tablespoon ground saffron

While these traditional elements are celebrated for their potential benefits, it's essential to balance traditional practices with modern healthcare guidance. Incorporating them into a well- rounded lifestyle can contribute to overall health and well-being, fostering a harmonious blend of tradition and contemporary wellness wisdom in the vibrant tapestry of Qatari heritage.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article on herbalism is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Herbal remedies should be used with caution and under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any herbal treatment regimen. The author and publisher of this article are not responsible for any adverse effects or consequences resulting from the use of the information presented herein.

Camille Baekelandt is a pharmacist- nutritionist, and founder of UrPharma. UrPharma is a distribution company of clean brands based in Qatar.


bottom of page