From the Middle East through North Africa all the way to the United States you can find adepts of plant medicine wisdom peacefully gnawing on what looks to be an ordinary twig. This twig is actually a small piece of root from the Peelu tree (Salvadora persica) which is a native of the Middle East and parts of Africa. Peelu, also known as Toothbrush Tree, offers its roots to us in support of one of the most overlooked parts of the body system in herbalism- oral health and hygiene.
It is said in Islam that all of the living Prophets practiced Miswak- the Arabic word for brushing the teeth and gums with Peelu. This brushing had both physical and spiritual benefits; and adding this brushing to the process of pre-prayer ablutions is still held in high esteem as a way to become ritually pure before reciting prayers.
Miswak has such a long history of use as a tool for oral health and has such an esteemed reputation that the World Health Organization has even made mention of its use as good oral hygiene practice. While the list of celebrated benefits of the Peelu brushing stick seems endless, we’ve cataloged a few of our favorites and those that seem to have the most empirical evidence and support behind them:
- Strengthens and cleanses gums
- Helps remove plaque and bacteria from the teeth and gums
- Can help to prevent tooth decay
- Leaves a pleasant fragrance in the mouth and freshens breath very effectively
- Improves palate and sense of taste
- Can help eliminate toxins that are built up on the tongue (ama) and in the digestive tract
- Assists in healthier digestion
- Clears and refines the voice
- Creates a spiritual glow (noor) on the teeth, face, and in the eyes
- Helps to create purity and cleanliness before prayer, meditation, or ceremony
Brushing with Miswak is a meditative experience to say the least. The thin root bark peels back easily to reveal a bundle of fibers that resemble toothbrush bristles. With a minute or so of use these fibers become moistened by the saliva and soften. The fragrance and flavor of the Peelu quickly follows- one that is almost impossible to explain. It has notes of mint, birch, and wood with hints of neem and grass.
Here at Greenthread we’ve been brushing with Miswak for many years and have experienced its amazing benefits. While hard to find in a non-GMO and organic form, we finally tracked one down and have them in stock now. They come individually shrink-wrapped- and the root sticks are packaged fresh so that all of their oils are in-tact.
We like to use Miswak before and after meals, before prayer and meditation, and anytime we might normally turn to a breath freshener or mouthwash. The results are amazing, and the meditative practice of connecting to plant medicine in such an intimate and internal way is a real treat!