When food was scarce, bedouins survived on one meal a day, perhaps a few dates and some camel milk. It is remarkable that despite this sparse diet there are no accounts of bedouin suffering from scurvy”a disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin C”, whereas the Turkish garrison stationed in desert at the end of the 19th and the early years of the 20th century lost large numbers of men from this terrible disease. The bedouins must, therefore, have made use of what desert plants they could find, which also yielded a range of natural medicines.

Many wild plant staples were eaten often by the bedouins. These included fennel roots, bush tomatoes, wild figs ,capers, desert onion, mushrooms, truffles, oak acorn, honey, nuts and the seeds from some grasses. 

Photos of the shepherd’s flora of South Jordan
A  bedouin nomad or a hungry shepherd who picks food or fruits from wild tree have more alkolids and more precious minerals in his body than a city man eating regular supermarket food and farms vegetables that have been planted in a depleted soil that have been farmed continuously for centuries. 

Interestingly the alkolids and more precious minerals find its way to humans, who live a full nomadic life style, from the milk and meat of goats and camels, that are feed from the desert alkloidal plants. The desert plants and shrubs that contains higher  amount of alkolidal substance than many other regions.
It has been suggested that it is easier to benefit from the alkolids and more precious minerals substance that is found in the food we eat if the body is in a more alkaline state. Most people on the conventional city diet tend to be acidic, thus the nomad bedouin food tend to move toward the alkaline end of the spectrum with their food. Alkaline diet also keeps the bones and muscles strong and healty, which is vital for desert life. 

Shepherds food and consciousness
Most of the desert alkaloidal plants contains chemicals that work directly upon consciousness, rapidly triggering profound experiences of insight and understanding. The explicit effect of these plants in general should be considered in a broader understanding of human consciousness and on these tribes development in many areas.

Legends from various parts of the world tell how people learned of the stimulating properties of caffeine, contained in the beans of the coffee bush. An Ethiopian story says that a goat shepherd noticed that the beans from a particular bush made his goats unusually alert and frisky. People sampled the beans and determined that they might be useful for keeping people awake during evening religious ceremonies. Similar tales from many indigenous cultures also relate that people discovered the effects of plants by observing animals.

The effect of these spirit/alkolidal plants through Camels and Goats milk products has been a part of the human experience since ancient times, yet many people are unaware of the significance that these plants have had in shaping the minds and tribal mood of early cultures.

Understanding these spirit plants or alkaloidal plants active chemical principles may indeed have far-reaching better understanding of the impact of this shepherds culture. Who  lead their flocks of camels and goats hundreds of kilometers in the course of the year, continually moving on to fresh grazing land for thousands of years.

They have developed an extensive knowledge of their environment and complex moral, social and honor codes (The Bisha'a Ritual in Bedouin Justice) all of which is expressed and transmitted orally. Their rich mythology is manifested in various forms of expression, comprising poetry, stories, and the knowledge and know-how related to Goats and  Camel.  

Interview with a Bedouin Doctor in Wadi Rum
Qasem Swelhiien calling his Camel “Al Wadha” Video
Um Salam Al Haywat of Wadi Arabah , Hader “Bedouin Poetry” VideoSlidshw2.htmlBisha.htmlSalem.htmlVCamel%20calling.htmlVumSalam.htmlshapeimage_1_link_0shapeimage_1_link_1shapeimage_1_link_2shapeimage_1_link_3shapeimage_1_link_4
Consciousness & Shepherd’s Wild Food Diet
Facts about Goat & Camel Milk
  1. 1.Goats prefer to graze on shrubbery and weeds for food. Goats graze more like deer than sheep, preferring woody shrubs rather than grasses. Goats are extremely curious and intelligent and theyare one of the oldest domesticated species. There are many distinct breeds of goat, but for this desert the black goat (Bedouin:  Samm’ar) is best suitable for this dry region.  To the bedouin each region or area have a different taste and flavor in its goat milk a taste and a quality of milk that is affected by what the goats graze. It is know that the Bani Hameda tribe is said to have an Artimesia taste in all of their milk. Goat milk naturally has small, well-emulsified fat globules, which means the cream remains suspended in the milk, instead of rising to the top, as in raw cow milk; therefore, it does not need to be homogenized.
  2. 2.Camel milk is a staple food of the bedouins. It is said to have many healthful properties. Bedouins believe that the curative and aphrodisiac powers of the heavy and sweet camel milk are enhanced if the camel's diet consists of certain plants. It is normally drunk fresh with the warm frothy liquid. The camel eats only certain herbal plants, tips of woody shrubs and trees. The Camel tend to be good-tempered, patient and intelligent. The camel enables the Bedouin to move far away from water sources (needs only 150 liters for ten days without  further watering). Bedouins can survive for months on its milk when water was unavailable.
  3. 3.Concentrations of serum copper were significantly lower in penned  sheep (zero grazed) than in grazing sheep in eastern Saudi Arabia. Soil-plant-animal interrelationships studies suggest that this could be attributed to the status of the minerals in the soils.
  1. 1.There was minimal processing and storage of food in the desert heat. Many plants, fruits, bulbs, roots, and gums were often eaten straight after picking. Some bulbs and fruits were cooked to make them taste better. Wild wheat or wild pistacio seeds was cooked in a variety of ways including harees, a kind of greasy porridge with Samn butter added.
  2. 2.The fire wood often influenced the flavor of the meal when cooked. Animals were baked in hot sand and ashes directly. Large bones were broken and marrow extracted. Smaller bones were chewed or even pounded and eaten.
  3. 3.Tea made from freshly picket desert thyme, Artimesia, desert Camomile, and Jieda was the preferred drink of the desert people.
  4. 4.Water itself was a most precious commodity and even when available was often of poor quality, the wells being sometimes polluted with camel and goat droppings and dried plant leafs, along with few lizards and cricets. In the hottest months some tribes relied entirely upon camel's milk when water was unavailable.
*Written by Rami Sajdi, updated March 2011

Left photo: Abu Mohammad’s goats in wadi Rum heading to the area of the giant  fennel plant (Bedouin: Khalkhh) from the carrots family in the early month of March in wadi Rum. Abu Mohammad of the Anazat  leaves his goats to graze on the fennel only for one week, to increase the goat sexual drive and potency, as the goat will explode from high blood pressure. The roots of the fennel are also eaten by shepherds. The giant Fennel or umbelliferous herb can be seen on the foreground. It was one of the primary ingredients of absinthe. Its aniseed flavor comes from anethole, an aromatic compound also found in anise. There are historical anecdotes that fennel is a galactogogue, improving the milk supply of a breast feeding mothers.
The nomadic bedouins of southern Jordan has been taught that plants that grows in between the rock veins has more medicinal properties than others. In Sinai the Bedouins prescribe some specific sandstone layer for drinking as a prescription for some illnesses. The lower photo is for Caper bush growing between the rocks in Petra.
Golden Henbane (Bedouin: Sekah’ran) Shikkron in hebrew, also Henbane “Hyoscyamus A”. It was historically used in combination with other plants, such as mandrake, deadly nightshade, and datura as an anaesthetic potion, as well as for its psychoactive properties in "magic brews.” These psychoactive properties include visual hallucinations and a sensation of flight. The use of Henbane by the ancient Greeks was documented by Pliny. The plant, recorded as Herba Apollinaris, was used to yield oracles by the priestess of Apollo.
Henbane can be toxic, even fatal, to some animals in low doses. The origins of the word “Seka’ran" meaning drunkenness probably originally from it narcotic potency. Hyoscyamine, scopolamine, and other tropane alkaloids have been found in the foliage and seeds of the plant. Common effects of henbane ingestion in humans include hallucinations, dilated pupils, restlessness, and flushed skin. It is however used by the bedouins to relax tooth pain. Goats are not susceptible to this plant.
The most hidden and mysterious the Ash Sharah “Ephedra foeminea” (Bedouin: Aousaj) with its tiny flower and red and black seeds. It is from the Ephedraceae family. The photo shows the nice relation between the rock of Petra and the lush Ephedra foeminea flourishing in Petra in late summer before rain.  Harry Falk asserted three varieties of ephedra (a Sarcostemma; and a leafless climber of the genus Periploca) that yield ephedrine. Falk established that the effect of the alkaloid ephedrine was, in many respects, similar to adrenaline, but "its actions are less intense but more prolonged than those of adrenaline, and, most important, it prevents sleeping." Chemically, ephedrine is structurally similar to amphetamine, but pharmacologically unrelated.
Left: Bakhita (whose name means fortunate) Al Anzat of Wadi Raman in Rum with her baby Najdi sheep. The Najdi or Nejdy is a breed of domestic sheep native to the Najd region of the Arabian Peninsula. The Najdi has a distinctive appearance, they are a very tall breed. They are generally black with white faces and white on the legs and tail. Top Najdi ewes can sell for much more money than the regular sheep. Najdi are highly adapted to life in desert conditions, though it is less drought tolerant than some breeds. It is especially valued for its milk. Ewe's milk is the milk of sheep, it is sweeter than the goat milk.
Right: White Broom Shrub (Bedouin: Ratam)  flowers in early spring.  The shrub flowers the earliest out of all desert shrubs in the very early spring. During this early flowering period which stays for two weeks in March, the Camels and Goats graze mostly on these flowers, which  makes the milk have qualities that gives the nomad lucid and vivid dreams. All parts of this shrub containpoisonous alkoloid like terpene andcytisine. This shows how easily humans are affected by what they eat? In the old testament this is the shrub in which Hagar hid her son Ishmael, after her rejection by Abraham.
Wadi Rum alone has 15 poisonous species and 31 Medicinal species.
This land seems not only accommodated the tribes nicely but it has influenced the tribes spiritual and intellectual growth. The precious metal minerals of region Cambrian age (542 - 488 million years ago) rock formations  exposure to the surface with its meteoric debris and  its  unique high alkoloid plant life seems to be responsible for taking the human consciousness to a higher level of intelligence. The active chemicals in  plants  not only  provided food for the physical body but food for the so called lightbody, or the dreambody.
The Red flower of the Nabatean Aloe Vera flourishing in June. This variety do not occur in the wild anywhere in Jordan excepts in Petra. It is unknown why it is planted near tombs in arabia. But according to David Hudson the Aloe vera has the highest amount of Iridium and Rhodium from all plants. Iridium is a very rare element on Earth, but geologist have discovered its existance in quantities up to thirty times than the normal in crust layers where meteorites containing the substance have landed in the distance past. Recent tests have shown that, by dry-matter weight, over 5% of brain tissue is composed of Iridium and Rhodium in high-spin state.  Given the extraterrestrial nature of Iridium in particular, it is intriguing to discover that we have this very element within our owen bodies.
Torfa bint Sabbah Al-Shousheh Al Ammarin tribe, was born in Heisheh oak forest on the Ash Sharah highland. Torfa’s tent is the most beautiful from all the other tribes tents. Her healthy shining goats never need vaccination and they dont get sick because they are well taken for. Torfa says:
 “a good shepherd with a healty herd is the one who lets his animals choose were they want to graze and not the other way around, some times the goats are seeking special medicinal herb that is good for them high in the rough terrain were other shepherds might not want to take that hard terrain to fulfill his goats desire....this is the factor that makes your pampered goats  produce a softer and shiner hair and makes your goat deliver twin kids. To me there is nothing more loving than seeing the kids of goats around.”
Torfa names every goat according to their own personality.