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4. Aloe vera

Aloe vera 1 square.jpgDid you know, the Bible describes around 30 healing plants, including frankincense and myrrh? These were traditionally used for health, and might have acted as antiseptic mouthwashes that could prevent gum disease.

What’s more, Islamic texts discuss over 50 plants, for medicine, food, and other uses. For example, the Sunna of the Prophet says, “He who has eaten from the garlic plant shouldn't harm us in the mosque.”

It wasn’t known at that point how disease spreads in enclosed spaces, but we know now that in any indoor spaces where crowding can happen, there is more risk of illness spreading, and those who have taken antimicrobials may be less likely to be ill, and so, less likely to harm others.

Many of the food requirements and taboos that are talked about in texts like these have health-related benefits, though we certainly can’t say that these were known at the time.

The Jewish Kashrut is a set of dietary laws. It forbids eating animals that are sometimes thought more likely to carry disease, such as pigs and predator animals. Even the process for kosher slaughter of animals is associated with food safety benefits, because the salting of the meat that happens during slaughter also helps to kill bacteria like Salmonella which cause diseases like Typhoid fever.

Magnifying Glass smallDo you think we should each be held responsible for stopping the spread of disease?

We use antimicrobials to avoid harm and disease. There are two big possible harms we might think about. First, causing a microbe to evolve resistance against antimicrobials and become a superbug. Second, spreading that superbug to other people.

We can never know for sure if we have caused resistance or spread a bug. In fact, we often act as hosts for superbugs after we take antibiotics, but it’s only sometimes that those superbugs start attacking us and actually cause symptoms of disease.

While we can’t be sure to prevent harm to others, then, we can be careful. Taking measures like taking antibiotics only when advised by health care workers, or making sure to wash your hands regularly can help to avoid risking harm to others.