Arab medicines and physicians were once the epicentre of the medical world, and although much of that fame has ebbed now, two traditional healers based at the Deira City Centre this week will showcase some of the reasons why Arab traditional medicine resonated so strongly in the past.

The Traditional Clinic, held as part of Heritage Surprises week organised by Dubai Customs, runs from 5 to 10 pm every day until Wednesday this week on the second floor of the mall.

The clinics, housed in palm-frond shelters, have separate areas for women and men and include a display of some of the herbs and techniques used in traditional UAE medicine.

In the men's section, Subait Khamees Abdullah, a UAE national and traditional healer, is a mine of information about the natural cures used in days past.

He described some of the treatments often prescribed for various maladies, including the administration of a natural purgative, bone-setting procedures, cupping (where impure blood is pulled out of tiny punctures made in the body using a heated glass cup) and 'al maysam' or cautery (where heated and sharpened rods are applied to affected areas.

In the ladies area, the traditional healer offered traditional coffee and dates, in addition to showing visitors the different herbs used in traditional Arab medicine and their purposes. She specifically mentioned stomach-soothing bitter herbs such as Al Murr, Al Sabr, Al Tabikha and the use of wild honey.

Today, it is well known that honey stimulates the secretion of white blood cells, the body's first defense against infection.

In times past, coughs were treated with an inhalation of honey, cream, milk, carob, colocynth and date kernels; and joint pain was treated with an ointment made from animal fat, bone marrow, flour, cumin, flax, pine and natron or frankincense with honey as a base.

A wide variety of plants was used: bitter gourds were used as an anti-diabetic agent, algae and aloe for allergies and skin conditions; herbs like cassia as a laxative and fenugreek as a diuretic to flush away toxins from the system.

The traditional clinic has received a great deal of interest since the start of Heritage Surprises week, the healer added, with many visitors asking questions about the old ways of curing diseases and the old medicines and their uses. The Traditional Clinic will continue at Deira City Centre until Wednesday.

"The traditional clinic is one of the most important activities of Heritage Surprises week because this is knowledge that has been passed down for centuries and is still valuable and practical today," said Zakia Al Musharekh, member of the Heritage Surprises committee at Dubai Customs.

"All of these cures come from our land and from nature, and the more we inform ourselves about it, the less the chance that we will lose touch with it."