600-Year Experience: Plants Hold Miracle Cures [Archives:1998/37/Health]

September 14 1998

Abdulhamid Al-Dhomain is a herbalist with degrees from Bombay University, India, and certificates from various medical bodies – including the Ministry of Public Health. Not older than 25 years, Al-Dhomain has made quite a good reputation for himself, both in Yemen and abroad.
He has achieved big successes in treating various types of diseases (he lists more than 55 different ailments in a flyer he distributes). This has made his patients shower him with gifts and letters of appreciation, which he hangs in his practice – The Yemeni Hikma (wisdom) Clinic.
In spite of all his renown, Al-Dhomain remains a controversial figure. Some Yemeni and foreign medical circles are still skeptical about his methods of treating the patients. The large number of diseases, which he claims he can cure, also arouses some suspicion among conventional doctors. The lists of illnesses purportedly curable by herbal remedies at the Hikma Clinic range from rheumatism to gout, eczema, leukoderma or vitilgo and other skin diseases, partial paralysis, all types of allergy, psychological and nervous disorders, stomach ulcers, lymphatic illnesses, kidney troubles, bladder stones, infertility, menstrual disorders, hemorrhoids and many others.
To know more about the extent of Al-Dhomain’s success and how popular herbal medicine is in Yemen, Ismail Al-Ghabiry of Yemen Times visited him in his clinic. He filed the following interview.
Q: Is your practice licensed by the Ministry of Health?
A: Yes, of course. A special committee consisting of seven doctors visited my clinic to inspect and discuss the various methods and substances I use in treating patients. They were quite impressed.
You see, I have several certificates in herbal medicine from internationally recognized bodies and institutions. The many thank-you notes I receive from patients attest to my success.
Q: When did you start practicing herbal medicine?
A: The business of herbal medicine has been in our family for the last 600 years. My grandfather used to visit various parts of Yemen to provide remedies for patients, at a time when there were very few hospitals.
So really, I started learning this vocation very early in my childhood, just by watching my father at work. I also read many books about this very important branch of medicine. So I became a practicing herbalist about ten years ago. It is a very ancient profession, the knowledge of which is handed down through the generations.
Q: What are the most common cases that come to your clinic?
A: Many people come complaining of hemorrhoids, skin ailments, stomach and intestine ulcers, tonsillitis, and hair loss among men and women. I also see many cases of infertility from Yemen and the Gulf countries.
Q: From where do you get your herbs and other remedial substances?
A: Yemen is very rich in medicinal herbs. The Island of Socotra, for example, has unique species of flora. I also get some types of herb from other parts of the world such as Indonesia, Singapore, India, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, etc.
Q: Have you tried to grow the plants and herbs that are not available in Yemen?
A: I tried to grow specimens of some of the rarer plants I brought from India, but I wasn’t successful. I think climate differences play a vital role in the process. However, most of the plants I need can found in the mountains of Saada, Mareb, Ibb, Al-Shihr, Hadhramaut, etc.
Q: Where do you do the required medicinal preparation?
A: I have a special, modern lab in Hadda, which I imported from New York. All preparations are done according to high-standard, internationally-recognized methods. Poisons and other harmful ingredients are professionally extracted and disposed of.
Q: How do you diagnose the various illnesses?
A: I rely on experience and modern medical methods such as x-rays, lab tests, etc. I certainly don’t always prescribe the remedy immediately. A patient with a stone in the bladder, for example, is sent for tests to ascertain the size and shape of the stone. This is quite important for me to be able to prescribe the appropriate dose. Follow-up tests are also conducted to figure out the extent of the remedy’s effect. Men suffering from infertility, say, are sent to the appropriate lab for semen tests.
Q: How many infertility case have you treated successfully?
A: I am proud to say that I have treated more than 2,000 cases of infertility.
Q: What do you recommend to enhance the popularity of herbal medicine in Yemen?
A: There are some people who start practicing this profession without enough knowledge or experience. By failing their patients, such impostors make people lose their trust in herbal medicine. So I call on the Ministry of Health to send committees of specialists to investigate the many so-called herbalists that are opening unlicensed clinics. Licensing procedures should be stricter and better regulated.
On another level, the higher education authorities should seriously consider incorporating alternative medicine into university curricula. It is done with great success in China, India, Germany, etc. In Kuwait, for instance, a special hospital for herbal remedies has recently been opened.