Ancient Hebrew medicine was practiced in the Land of Israel at least until the second century BCE, explained Amir Kitron, a Doctor of Chemistry who has learned to combine the herbs of the Judean Desert to create natural and effective skin care products.
Kitron said ancient Hebrew medicine involved combining powerful herbs into creams, oils and ointments for topical use and healing.
Jewish tradition teaches about a “Book of Remedies, which contained the accumulated healing wisdom of the Jewish People. King Hezekiah hid this book because the cures were too effective. The medieval commentator Rashi explains that when a person became sick, he would follow what was written in the book and be healed, and as a result people’s hearts were not humbled before Heaven because of illness.
The modern symbol for pharmaceuticals is likewise derived from the Bible and the story of Moses, said Kitron.
“His staff was converted to a snake and back into a staff,” Kitron explained. “Upon receiving the staff, he performed an act of healing on himself, converting a healthy hand into a hand affected with leprosy and then healing it again.”
Kitron’s line of Herbs of Kedem products specifically uses plants found in the Judean Desert, a narrow, 14-miles wide strip of land that is situated between the Judean Hills and the Dead Sea. The Judean Hills has a Mediterranean climate and an elevation of up to 328 feet above sea level and rain, whereas the Dead Sea is the lowest place on earth at more than 400 meters below sea level and constantly warm and dry conditions.
“This creates a rare encounter between two herbal populations and a strong climate gradient, resulting in high stress levels in plants,” explained Kitron. “One result of this stress is the relatively high level of certain phytosteroids, which can be useful for treating autoimmune skin diseases like psoriasis, for aiding in faster muscle recovery and treating male-pattern hair loss, among other ailments.”
Kitron explained that when plants survive under such extreme, traumatic stress they build up a capacity to help the body heal itself in the same way.
“How can you tell how a drug will work?” Kitron asked. “First, you examine the physiological aspects of a plant – how it grows and in what conditions. Then, you look at its pharmacological traditions. Most people have their own traditions of using herbal medicine.”
He explained that when the body, or part of it, becomes self-destructive, the best strategy is to activate its self-healing. Kitron said there are many ways to do this. These include through the mind (changing one’s attitude), physical fitness (physical training enhances the body’s tolerance to stress, emotional stability and mental capacity), nutrition and detoxification, and signaling the body with herbs and minerals, which has been done since ancient times and now has scientific backing.
Herbs of Kedem has products that work on both the latter two fronts and can help to alleviate over-medication. Herbs of Kedem products can detoxify the body, lower blood pressure, treat colitis, reduce wrinkles, and remove eye puffiness, among many other ailments. It is one of the few strictly natural and vegan beauty and well-being manufacturers.
Kitron said, for example, when a person has high cholesterol, he or she will be given medication. Many of the medications used to treat high cholesterol can lead to liver damage, so another medicine is then taken to combat this damage – and so on and so on.
“The result is that by the age of 70, some people are on as many as 10 drugs,” he said.
Yet pharmaceutical companies are hesitant to explore plants as medications because they tend to be more expensive to produce, are complex to work with because of the changing concentrations of different ingredients inside plants, and because it is difficult to register a patent over herbal extracts, which have been used for centuries.
Kitron has been studying the plants of the Judean Desert since 1998. He originally moved to Kiryat Arba because he wanted to live near the Biblical city of Hebron. It was then that he discovered “we are literally tripping on plants or stepping on plants inadvertently that everyone treats as bad weeds, yet they are unique plants.”
He found dozens of rare indigenous species, and started collecting seeds of remnants of ancient crops, creating a national gene bank in case these plants become extinct. He stores the seeds of these rare plants with a goal of cultivating them once again.
“Gadot said that we are living in the place in the world with the highest biodiversity in the world,” said Yaniv Kitron, the founder and CEO of EdenShield and Amir Kitron’s brother. Rooted in the same philosophy of Herbs of Kedem, EdenShield has developed a family of natural, non-toxic products based on extracts of indigenous plants in the Judean Desert to protect crops against damage from insects.
In the Judean Desert, the elder Kitron has found several Biblical herbs, like ancient hyssop, which can be read about in Psalms and he said can be used to fight bacteria and treat nail fungus.
“Purge me with hyssop till I am pure; wash me till I am whiter than snow” (Psalms 51).
The species of hyssop found in the Judean Desert is not found anywhere else in the world. And nowhere else in the world, said Kitron, has species so rooted in history and spirituality.
“This area has tremendous spiritual significance,” said Kitron. “The Judean Desert is where King David met his wife Abigail and so much more. We bring this spirituality and healing in everything we sell.”