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Tunisia Herb Sellers Cash In On Coronavirus Fear


There is no such thing as a recognized remedy for the brand new coronavirus, however within the medicinal herbs souq in Tunis, anxious Tunisians are consulting with herbalists and stocking up on conventional cures.

“I am afraid for my father, who is old and sick, so I have come here to look for plants to boost his immunity,” mentioned Baya, a 43-year-old civil servant.

Tunisia has reported 20 COVID-19 circumstances since March 2. Whereas no deaths have been reported, authorities have taken robust measures to halt the unfold of the illness and fewer clients are crowding the paved alleys of the capital’s historical medina.

However within the coronary heart of the previous metropolis, Tunisians proceed flocking to the Souk el-Blat and its herbalist stalls, the place flasks, powders, and dried herbs are stacked excessive.

Haj Mohamed, a Tunisian herbalist, shows his medicinal crops at his store at Souk el-Blat, within the Medina (previous metropolis) of Tunisia’s capital Tunis, on March 14, 2020. PHOTO: FETHI BELAID / AFP


Native and imported natural medicines are historically valued for keeping off winter flu, which shares some signs with the brand new coronavirus — a respiratory an infection that has killed greater than 6,000 individuals worldwide.

Worry of contagion has seen a rush on garlic, sending the value hovering to 25 dinars (eight euros) a kilo, whereas different clients search for plant cures which might be efficient and inexpensive.

“I can understand people falling back on tradition,” mentioned Hedi Oueslati, a pharmacologist and Tunisia’s director-general of well being.

“But there is currently no medicine nor miracle plant effective against the new coronavirus.”

He continued: “If we’re talking about a grandma’s remedy that is not dangerous and poses no problems, ok.”

However, he added, “you have to be careful not to fall for quackery.”

Some individuals had been benefiting from public anxiousness to promote “concoctions” with unknown substances, he warned.

‘Ancestral remedies’

“What can I take for coronavirus?” Hanen Oueslati (no relation to the well being director) requested a vendor at a stall promoting recent rosemary and oregano.

“I want plants to sterilise the home and others for making herbal infusions,” mentioned the 38-year-old girl.

“The goal is to protect us, that’s all, especially since there is no medication against the virus,” she mentioned.

Fethi Ben Moussa, a 61-year-old herbalist, defined: “Tunisians love every little thing conventional and pure: in occasions of panic they belief within the cures of our ancestors.

“Individuals are asking for issues to organize at dwelling like thyme, ginger, and moringa,” he mentioned, claiming that they had been “good for immunity and fighting viruses.”

At one other store, Haj Mohamed supplied preparations of ginger, jujube honey, and Tumeric that he claimed, with out proof, are “100 percent effective against viruses.”

A second technology herbalist, he claimed these are “magic ingredients for fighting all kinds of flu”.

However Dr Chokri Hamouda, the director-general of healthcare in Tunisia, has a warning: “Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s not harmful.”


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