Middle East Medicinal Plants (MEMP)

CSA Staff


NOAH MARTHINSEN Research Manager noah@arava.org

DR. ELAINE SOLOWEY Researcher emerita elaine.solowey@arava.org


Dr. Solowey’s Middle East Medicinal Plant Project (MEMP), which is sponsored by the Louis L. Borick Natural Medicine Research Center of Hadassah Hospital, aims to protect and propagate the rare medicinal and biblical plants of the Southern Negev and Dead Sea area. The research has informed innovative pharmaceutical treatments for cancer and malaria and has implications for the preservation of endangered medicinal plants. Dr. Solowey’s team domesticates these species so that the plant material is available for research without disturbing the wild populations. She has cultivated, among other species, rare members of the Artemisia family from which malaria-fighting drugs have been extracted, and neem trees, which have so many medical uses in India that they are known as the “pharmacy of the village.”


Flora Palestina Open-Source Database

A long-term Middle East Regional Cooperation (MERC) collaborative project between several partners, the online database will be released in 2020 in English, Arabic, and Hebrew. The open-source database provides easy access to information about thousands of botanical species in the Flora Palestina region in order to preserve the traditional and botanical knowledge and promote conservation.

Species – Botanical Name Parts Used
Preparation/ Administration
Marrubium vulgare L.Whole plantEczemaDermatologyAnti-pruriticCook the non-woody parts in sesame oil and prepare a salveclove
Marrubium vulgare L.DiabetesEndocrine/ MetabolismAnti-diabetic
Marrubium vulgare L.Whole plantAbdominal painGastrointestinalAnalgesicCook in water and drink
Marrubium vulgare L.Whole plantInflammations of the liverEndocrine/ MetabolicHepaticDecoction in water ,drink with sugar
Marrubium vulgare L.Whole plantRheumatic painMusculoskeletal/ JointsAnalgesic1 in bathwater with salt
2 asincense prepared with salt and sheba (alum)
Marrubium vulgare L.Whole plantExpectorantRespiratoryAnti-catarrhalDecoction in water
Marrubium vulgare L.Whole plantWounds skin lesionsWound HealingvulneraryCook the non-woody parts in sesame oil and prepare a salve
Marrubium vulgare L.Whole plantAntiseptic for skin/ wounds lesionsWound HealingAnti-septic, vulneraryApply the juice on the skin or the purulent lesion
Matricaria chamomilla L.FlowerInternal tumorsCancerAnti-cancerMix flowers with Saliva sp.Majorana syrica Rosemary officialis
Matricaria chamomilla L.FlowerAbdominal spasms in babiesChild healthAnti-spasmodicDrink decoction of the flowerswith Pimpinella anisum
Matricaria chamomilla L.FlowerIntestinal inflammation in babiesChild healthAnti-inflammatoryDrink decoction of the flowerswith Pimpinella anisum
Matricaria chamomilla L.FlowerRegulate the digestive system in cases of diarrhea in babiesChild healthAnti-diarrhoealDrink decoction of the flowerswith Pimpinella anisum
Matricaria chamomilla L.FlowerRegulate the digestive system in cases of constipation in babiesChild healthLaxativeDrink decoction of the flowerswith Pimpinella anisum
Matricaria chamomilla L.FlowerEar, Nose, Throat (ENT)
Mentha pulegium L.Leaf,
RespiratoryAnti-tussiveCook with za’atar farsi (Coridothymus capitatus) and drink a cup before bedtme
Mentha speciesWhole plantCardiovascularCardiacCook in water with Micromeria myrtifolia or Salvia Triloba. Drink
Mentha speciesLeaf,
Whole plant
Child healthUnspecifiedTake a large tablespoonof decoction before bedtime

IDBotanical NameFamilyEnglish NamesHebrew NameHebrew Name (Phonetic)Arabic Name
71Artemisia herba – alba Asso.AsteraceaeWhite Wormwood (Herba-alba)לענתהמדברLa’anat ha-midbarShikh
72Artemisia monosperma Del.AsteraceaeSand Wormwoodלענה חד-זרעיתLa’ana khad zir’itKeysoon
73Artemisia judaica L.AsteraceaeJudaean Wormwoodלענת יהודהLa’anat YehudaB’ei’tran
15Achillea fragrantissima (Forssk.) Sch. Bip.AsteraceaeLavender Cottonאכילאה ריחניתAchillea rehanitQassum,Bissum
52Anthemis psuedocotula Boiss.CompositaeCommon Chammomileקחוון מצויKakhvan matzuyKakhwan
3Anethum graveolens L.ApiaceaeDillשבת ריחניShevet rehani, Shamiral ‘asba-al-hlalya,Shibid
5Capparis spinosa L.CapparaceaeCaperZalaf qozaniQubar (Folk),Qabar (Li teral),Lazaf
6Ceratonia siliqua L.Leguminosae-caesalpinioideaeCarob Tree,Locust treeחרוב מצויHaruv mazuyKharub,Kharnub (literal)
7Coridothymus capitatus (L.) Reichnb.LamiaceaeHeaded Thymeקורנית מקורקפתKoranit mekurkefetZa’atar,za’atar pharsi,Zucheif
14Acanthus syriacus Boiss.AcanthaceaeBear’s Breech (A. mollis)קוציץ סוריQoziz suriKhanziri
15Achillea fragrantissima (Forssk.) Sch. Bip.AsteraceaeLavender Cottonאכילאה ריחניתAchillea rehanitQassum,Bissum
16Adianthum capillus-veneris L.AdiantaceaeSouthern Maidenhair Fern,Venus’s Hair,Rudder Graשערות-שןלמית מצויותSe’arot-shulamit mezuyotSha’ar-el-khanzir,Kuzbarat-el-Bir,Sha’ar-el-ard
20Ajuga chamaepytis (L.) Schreb.LamiaceaeGround pine, Chian Bugleחד-שפה מצויHad-safa mazuyShandaqur,’Ishbt-el-dzantria
21Alhagi graecorum Boiss.Leguminosae-papilionoideaeCamel Thornהגה מצויHaga mazuyAl-‘aqul,Shirs-el-‘aqul,Shoq-el-Gamal
22Alhagi camelorum Fisch.Leguminosae-papilionoideaeCamel Thornהגה מצויHaga matzuiTranjamin,Tranjamsh
23Aaronsonia faktosovskyiAsteraceaeאהרונסונית פקטורובסקי
28Alhagi maurorum medikLeguminosae-papilionoideae
31Allium ampeloprasum L.LiliaceaeWild LeekShum Gavoha – auo dcuvKurat
33Allium neapolitanum Cyr.LiliaceaeNeaple’s Garlicשום משולשShum meshulash (=triangular garlic)Tum Ar-raghr
34Alkanna strigosa BoissBoraginaceaeStrigose Alkanetאלקנה סמורהAlkanna SamuraHawa Juwani
39Althea officinalis L.MalvaceaeMarsh Mallowחטמית רפואיתNetofitt refu’it medicinal chotmitAltea
41Althea setosa BoissMalvaceaeBristly HollyhockKhotmit zifanit prickly Khotmit)Ward el-Chasad

A view from inside the shady neem grove in the experimental orchard of the Center for Sustainable Agriculture.


This project joins commercial crop development and studies on healing plants. From 2004-2014 The Center worked on making the neem tree salt tolerant. After ten years, the results of selection and breeding were successful; between 2014-2015, three hundred trees were planted at neighboring kibbutz Lotan. More salt-tolerant neem trees will be planted in other locations this year. Neem is a highly medicinal tree, with each part of the plant in use as an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and an anti-diabetic.

Anti-Cancer Plants

The anti-cancer plants garden, another project of Middle East Medicinal Plants (MEMP), is in the early stages of planning. The garden will feature twenty-six species of native desert plants that The Center has researched over the years for anti-cancer properties. Annual and perennial species will be grown to supply further research and materia medica without threatening wild populations.

Solowey E, Lichtenstein M, Sallon S, Paavilainen H, Solowey E, Lorberboum-Galski H. Evaluating Medicinal Plants for Anticancer Activity. The Scientific World Journal Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 721402, 12 pages http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/721402

Harlev, E., Nevo, E., Solowey, E., & Bishayee, A. (2013). Cancer Preventive and Curative Attributes of Plants of the Cactaceae Family: A Review. Planta Medica79(09), 713–722. doi: 10.1055/s-0032-1328632