Al Handal or Bitter Apple: A Forbidden Fruit

You must have seen a small yellow-green round fruit shining everywhere around the desert, teasing you to take a bite into its luscious skin.  The sight of it looks so tempting enough to be forbidden.  Well, better stick to your instincts as this fruit that you’ve seen creeping along the sandy soils in Sinaiis not best eaten.

Al Handal or the Bitter Apple is a wild fruit that grows on sub-desert soils and along the seacoasts.  It has therapeutic properties as well as agonizing results.

In the traditional Bedouin medication, the fruit is used to cure rheumatism.  They make a poultice out of it by boiling the fruit in oiled water, then they cut it in half and press it to their painful joints and wrap it together with a cloth to leave overnight.  It causes a bitter taste in the mouth during this process but the next day it is guaranteed to combat rheumatism.  They use the leaves to alleviate painful menstruation, to treat bronchial asthma and as a diuretic.  The roots they use for healing inflammation of the breasts and amenorrhea, and they use the seedy pulp of the fruit to purge toxins and to cure gonorrhea.

However way the old methods were practiced, doctors of modern medicine have deduced that this wild plant causing agonizing results, such as inflammation of the mucous membrane of the intestines, vomiting, and bloody stools when taken in frequent doses.

They prescribe that in case of poisoning from the Colocynth, as it is scientifically known, the stomach should be emptied and given opium orally or as a suppository.

Either way it works, this tantalizing fruit adds life and substance to the somber desert, invoking amazement to nature wonder as a symbol of paradise in a dry unfertile land.

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