Little Ethiopia: An Ethnopharmacological Study of the Ethiopian Community in Israel

Dikla Danino, Z. Amar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is a large Ethiopian community in Israel which preserves its unique culture and customs. Many of the members of this community still use traditional methods of healing, such as blood-letting, burns, tattooing, amulets, healing water, incense, and various medicinal herbs that are prescribed based on the diagnosis of the disease. This study deals with documenting the use of the medicinal drugs used by the Ethiopian community in Israel, which is a rapidly vanishing world. The study is based on interviews with hundreds of informants, among them traditional healers, and it surveyed some fifty shops which sell Ethiopian medicinal drugs and spices. The survey brought to light a list of medical materials found in the Ethiopian markets in Israel, which includes total of 105 medicinal drugs: 89 of which are kinds of plants, the others being minerals and animals. Most of the drugs are exported from Ethiopia to Israel, and that is because they are endemic. There are also other medicinal drugs gathered in the field in Israel or brought in by personal import. In total, our estimate is that there are approximately 150 different kinds of medicinal drugs in use in Israel. This is a relatively small number when compared to the inventory of drugs in the land of origin, Ethiopia. The decline in the use of traditional drugs due to limited availability and processes of modernization in the Ethiopian community in Israel heightens the importance of a study that documents this unique culture. The study also is of assistance to the modern medical authorities in order to better understand and become more familiar with the Ethiopian community and with its needs and special practices, both in terms of prevention and treatment.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)105-134
JournalInternational Journal of Ethiopian Studies
Issue number1/2
StatePublished - 2009


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