In biblical, Talmudic and medieval times, it was not unusual for the empires that ruled Israel to exploit the healing properties of trees and plants indigenous to the country. Now, over the last decade, a growing number of Israeli researchers and companies are rediscovering these ancient herbal formulas and repackaging them as healthy natural alternatives to synthetic brand names.
“The herbal remedies have always existed, but we never granted them importance,” said herbalist Shimon Shemla. “But today, more and more people are finding that they lack effective answers to viruses, allergies, and even cancer, so they are returning to the sources.”
Fifteen years ago Shemla left his career as a real-estate developer to study botany, naturopathy, and ancient herbal remedies. Five years later he founded Merapeh Habosem (Simple Natural in English), a study center and small-scale manufacturer specializing in ancient Hebrew remedies. Located in Kibbutz Cabri in the Galilee, Merapeh Habosem sells its handmade products through its visitor’s center and website.
Shemla has documented the properties of over 500 herbs, plants and trees, many of which feature prominently in his serums, shampoos, soaps, ointments, toners, and peels. Using homeopathic techniques, he concocts recipes for the hair and skin using plants and trees mentioned in the Bible and Talmud, among them: etrog (citron), myrtle, sage, bay leaves, tamarisk, willow, oak, and pomegranate.
In the Judean desert, Herbs of Kedem, specializes in plants cultivated in a very specific desert region: the dunes located between the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth, and the cool Hebron hills. Research conducted by Dr. Nissim G. Amzallag, the company’s founder, has shown that these plants contain compounds that allow them to adapt to the harsh and extreme climates of the region.
“If they can regenerate themselves effectively, Amzallag assumed they would have a similar effect on humans,” explained chemical engineer Dr. Amir Kitron, CEO of Herbs of Kedem. The company’s products have been shown to effectively treat nail fungus, psoriasis, dermatitis, acne, scars, and hair loss. The company has set up a non-profit research and development center near its factory in Moshav Carmel to further explore scientifically the medical uses and benefits of the plants.
In the company’s study fields, several endemic strains of herbs grow wild, among them oregano, lavender, mint, thyme, and sage. Their oils and extracts make up the main ingredients in the company’s wide range of products. All plants are grown organically and hand-picked for production.
Herbs of Kedem has established itself as one of Israel’s leaders in the field of natural skin care in part because of the purity of its products and ingredients.
“We are fanatics about using no synthetic ingredients whatsoever,” Kitron told ISRAEL21c. He considers moisturizing creams particularly
problematic, since they are created by bonding oil and water, an unstable compound which usually requires preservatives to ward off bacteria. As an alternative to lotions, Herbs of Kedem has created a line of moisturizing ointments made from essential oils. The purity of the ingredients is apparent from the pungent herbal aroma of the ointments and toners.
Another benefit of using plants for skin care is that they are environmentally friendly. “Plants produce a lot of chemicals in a very clean manner, without polluting the environment, without emitting toxic substances. They work with enzymes that do everything in a sophisticated way,” said Kitron.
Kedem products are distributed in United States By www.deadseaherbs.com