Aromatic spices from North and East Africa used in traditional medicine
R. YOHANNES, AfriQ, Carmel, NY
A brief history on how everyday cooking spices were used as medicinal remedies in Egypt, Ethiopia, and Morocco will be discussed. Fenugreek ("abish" in Ethiopian) is one of the oldest cultivated medicinal plants and goes back to the ancient Egyptians. Fenugreek is widely grown today in the Mediterranean countries and many parts of the world as a food, condiment, and as a medicinal aid. As a medicine, fenugreek has been used traditionally in Egypt, Ethiopia, and Morocco for healing B bronchitis, fevers, sore throat, wounds, swollen glands, skin irritations, diabetes, and ulcers. Egyptian and Ethiopian women traditionally have used fenugreek to promote lactation after childbirth. It is also used as an aphrodisiac. In Ethiopia, fenugreek is used in combination with other spices to make traditional kibe (Ethiopian, spiced clarified butter) and various sauces. Today, the maple aroma and flavor of fenugreek has led to its use in many baked goods, chutneys, confections, and imitation maple syrup. For culinary use, its seeds are ground and used in sauces. The young seedlings and other parts of the plant are eaten as vegetables. The fenugreek plant is high in proteins, ascorbic acid, niacin, and potassium.