Therapeutic properties of meswak chewing sticks: A review
Meswak “a chewing stick” usually 15 cm long and 1 cm in diameter is taken from the roots or young twigs of Salvadora persica L. Meswak has been used in folk medicine for a very long time for different medical condition treatments. The cultural and religious use of meswak for dental hygiene is still wildly spread, throughout parts of Asia, Africa, and Middle East, and because of its wide distribution. Clinical studies comparing adult habitual meswak users and habitual toothbrush users have shown better periodontal status in meswak users. However, the beneficial effects of meswak in respect of oral hygiene and dental health are partly due to its mechanical action and pharmacological actions. Different studies conclude that the values of these sticks are probably due to their different chemical components and ways of cleaning mechanisms. Previous literature reveals that meswak has strong antimicrobial (antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral) and pharmacological (hypoglycemic, anti-platelet aggregation, anti-ulcer, and anti-oxidative) activities. The use of meswak has been recommended by Islam. Actually, meswak was known before Islam, but Islam added a religious prospective to the use of meswak. It is endowed by several characteristics supporting its use. In view of such facts, the ecology, geographical distribution, and the chemical constituents of the plant have been investigated time by time by several researchers. The therapeutic aspects of meswak and its important role in plaque control, gingival recession, tooth wear, bleeding gums, and periodontal health as well as its availability and cheap cost factor may be the major reasons for its recommendation by world health organization. The present review concludes the biology of meswak tree and cultural value of meswak with reference to current literature.
Keywords: Meswak, folk medicine, Islam, dental, oral hygiene, antimicrobial, review