The Religious Recommendation Of The Miswak (Salvadora persica) & Its Therapeutic Benefits

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

عَنْ عَائِشَة عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَقَالَ السِّوَاكُ مَطْهَرَةٌ لِلْفَمِ مَرْضَاةٌ لِلرَّبِّ

‘Â’isha reported: The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “The Siwâk is purification for the mouth and pleasing to the Lord.”

Sunan An-Nasâ’i 5. Declared Sahîh by Al-Albânî


What is Miswak?

The best Miswak (aka Siwâk) or ‘teeth cleaning stick’ is derived from a plant species of Salvadora persica belonging to the family Salvadoraceae. Salvadora persica (Arak Tree) is known in English as the ‘tooth brush tree’. It is native to the Arabian Peninsula, Africa, Iraq, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka [1].

عَنِ ابنِ مسعودٍ ، أنَّهُ كانَ يجتَني سواكًا منَ الأراكِ ،…

Narrated from Ibn Mas’ûd that he was gathering siwâk from an Arâk tree… (to the end of the hadîth)

Musnad Imâm Ahmad 3991. Declared Sahîh by Ahmad Shâkir


Especially recommended times to use the Miswak

1) At the time of every prayer

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ لَوْلاَ أَنْ أَشُقَّ عَلَى أُمَّتِي ـ أَوْ عَلَى النَّاسِ ـ لأَمَرْتُهُمْ بِالسِّوَاكِ مَعَ كُلِّ صَلاَةٍ ‏”

Narrated by Abû Hurairah: Allâh’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “If I had not found it hard for my followers or the people, I would have ordered them to clean their teeth with Siwâk for every prayer.” (Sahîh Bukhâri 887)

2) During ablution (Wudhu)

وَقَالَ أَبُو هُرَيْرَةَ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «لَوْلاَ أَنْ أَشُقَّ عَلَى أُمَّتِي لأَمَرْتُهُمْ بِالسِّوَاكِ عِنْدَ كُلِّ وُضُوءٍ

Narrated by Abû Hurairah: The Prophet said, ‘But for my fear that it would be hard for my followers, I would have ordered them to clean their teeth with Siwâk on every performance of ablution.” (Sahîh Bukhâri chapter 27: Siwâk for the person observing Saum (fast))

3) When getting up at night

عَنْ حُذَيْفَةَ، قَالَ كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِذَا قَامَ مِنَ اللَّيْلِ يَشُوصُ فَاهُ بِالسِّوَاكِ‏

Hudhaifah narrated that: Whenever the Prophet (ﷺ) got up at night, he used to clean his mouth with Siwâk. (Sahîh Bukhâri 245)

4) On jummu’ah (Friday)

قَالَ أَشْهَدُ عَلَى أَبِي سَعِيدٍ قَالَ أَشْهَدُ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ الْغُسْلُ يَوْمَ الْجُمُعَةِ وَاجِبٌ عَلَى كُلِّ مُحْتَلِمٍ، وَأَنْ يَسْتَنَّ وَأَنْ يَمَسَّ طِيبًا إِنْ وَجَدَ ‏

Narrated Abû Sa’îd: I testify that Allâh’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “The taking of a bath on Friday is compulsory for every male Muslim who has attained the age of puberty and (also) the cleaning of his teeth with Siwâk, and the using of perfume if it is available.” (Sahîh Bukhâri 880)

5) When entering ones home

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم كَانَ إِذَا دَخَلَ بَيْتَهُ بَدَأَ بِالسِّوَاكِ

‘Â’ishah reported: Whenever Allâh’s Messenger (ﷺ) entered his house, the first thing he did was use the Siwâk. (Sahîh Muslim 253)


It’s Anti-Bacterial effects

Miswak has antibacterial activity against a range of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria (i.e Streptococcus spp. Staphylococcal spp.) & medically important pathogens (i.e Salmonella enterica, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Haemophilus influenzae) [2] [3] [4].


Its Anti-Fungal effects

Miswak has shown to have antifungal activity against Candida albicans, Candida glabrataCandida parapsilosis, [5] and Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus niger strains [6].

Renal transplant patients (RTPs) who used a miswak for oral hygiene were found to have a significantly lower prevalence of oral candidiasis (mouth thrush) compared with other RTPs [7].

Oral candidiasis usually caused by Candida albicans.

It’s Anti-Viral effects

Miswak has shown to have virucidal activity against the Herpes Simplex Virus-1 (HSV1) [8] [9].

Oral infection caused by HSV1. Irritation of the oral mucosa.
HSV1 oral infection. Inflammation and ulcer formation around the labial mucosa.

It’s Anti-decay effects

Miswak is a natural source for topical fluoride [10] and aqueous extracts which inhibit the growth of cariogenic bacteria (i.e cause tooth decay) [11], and has shown to exhibit remineralising effect on white spot lesions [12].


It’s Anti-plaque effects

The use of Miswak has shown to reduce gingivitis (gum disease) and plaque build up [13].


It’s Antioxidant effects

Antioxidants are vital substances that possess the ability to protect the body from damage caused by free radical-induced oxidative stress.

Miswak contains the following antioxidant compounds and enzymes [14]:

  • dominant tocopherols (γ-tocopherol, and α-tocopherol) – active as vitamin E – in the seed oil
  • Δ5-avenasterol and beta-sitosterol
  • campesterol and stigmasterol
  • antioxidant enzymes, peroxidase, catalase, and Polyphenol oxidase

It’s Anti-inflammatory effects

Miswak exhibits natural Anti-inflammatory effects and thus, is an effective tool for tooth cleaning and a natural analgesic for toothache treatment [15].


Miswak vs Toothbrush

Miswak has shown:

  • a significant reduction in gingivitis both buccally and lingually after using a Miswak five times a day compared with a conventional toothbrush [16].
  • a significant reduction in Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans (bacterium that causes various periodontal diseases) than by toothbrushing [17].
  • to be as effective as a toothbrush for reducing plaque on buccal teeth surfaces both experimentally and clinically [18].
  • a significant improvement in plaque score and gingival health when Miswak was used alongside to tooth brushing [19].
  • a parallel and at times greater mechanical and chemical cleansing of oral tissues as compared to a toothbrush [20].
  • brushing with Miswak for 5 minutes resulted in a net reduction of the proportion of plaque deposit sites per child. Toothpaste resulted in no additional effect [21].
  • that the periodontal status of Miswak users in a Sudanese population was better than that of toothbrush users, suggesting that the efficacy of Miswak use for oral hygiene in this group is comparable or slightly better than a toothbrush [22].
  • is more effective than toothbrushing for reducing plaque and gingivitis. The Miswak showed to be more effective than toothbrushing for removing plaque from the embrasures, thus enhancing interproximal health [23].

References

[1] Khatak, M., Khatak, S., Siddqui, A. A., Vasudeva, N., Aggarwal, A. and Aggarwal, P. (2010) Salvadora persica, Pharmacognosy Reviews, 4(8), pp. 209–214.

[2] Al-Bayati, F. A. and Sulaiman, K. D. (2008) In Vitro Antimicrobial Activity of Salvadora persica L. Extracts Against Some Isolated Oral Pathogens in Iraq,.

[3] Sofrata, A. H., Claesson, R. L. K., Lingström, P. K. and Gustafsson, A. K. (2008) Strong antibacterial effect of miswak against oral microorganisms associated with periodontitis and caries, Journal of Periodontology, 79(8), pp. 1474–1479.

[4] Sofrata, A., Santangelo, E. M., Azeem, M., Borg-Karlson, A.-K., Gustafsson, A. and Pütsep, K. (2011) Benzyl isothiocyanate, a major component from the roots of Salvadora persica is highly active against Gram-negative bacteria, PloS One, 6(8), p. e23045.

[5] Noumi, E., Snoussi, M., Hajlaoui, H., Valentin, E. and Bakhrouf, A. (2010) Antifungal properties of Salvadora persica and Juglans regia L. extracts against oral Candida strains, European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases: Official Publication of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology, 29(1), pp. 81–88.

[6] Saadabi M.A (2006) Antifungal Activity of Some Saudi Plants Used in Traditional Medicine, [online] Available from: https://scialert.net/abstract/?doi=ajps.2006.907.909 (Accessed 29 August 2020).

[7] Al-Mohaya, M. A., Darwazeh, A. and Al-Khudair, W. (2002) Oral fungal colonization and oral candidiasis in renal transplant patients: the relationship to Miswak use, Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology, and Endodontics, 93(4), pp. 455–460.

[8] al-Bagieh, N. H., Idowu, A. and Salako, N. O. (1994) Effect of aqueous extract of miswak on the in vitro growth of Candida albicans, Microbios, 80(323), pp. 107–113.

[9] Brown, J. M. and Jacobs, J. W. (1979) An investigation into antibacterial activity in chewing sticks against oral streptococci, Odonto-Stomatologie Tropicale = Tropical Dental Journal, 2(5), pp. 25–30.

[10] Chawla, H. S. (1983) A new natural source for topical fluoride, Journal of the Indian Dental Association, 55(10), pp. 419–422.

[11] Darmani, H., Nusayr, T. and Al-Hiyasat, A. S. (2006) Effects of extracts of miswak and derum on proliferation of Balb/C 3T3 fibroblasts and viability of cariogenic bacteria, International Journal of Dental Hygiene, 4(2), pp. 62–66.

[12] Baeshen, H. A., Lingström, P. and Birkhed, D. (2011) Effect of fluoridated chewing sticks (Miswaks) on white spot lesions in postorthodontic patients, American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics: Official Publication of the American Association of Orthodontists, Its Constituent Societies, and the American Board of Orthodontics, 140(3), pp. 291–297.

[13] Gazi, M. I., Davies, T. J., al-Bagieh, N. and Cox, S. W. (1992) The immediate- and medium-term effects of Meswak on the composition of mixed saliva, Journal of Clinical Periodontology, 19(2), pp. 113–117.

[14] Ibrahim, M. M., AL Sahli, A. A. A., Alaraidh, I. A., Al-Homaidan, A. A., Mostafa, E. M. and EL-Gaaly, G. A. (2015) Assessment of antioxidant activities in roots of Miswak (Salvadora persica) plants grown at two different locations in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences, 22(2), pp. 168–175.

[15] Dahiya, P., Kamal, R., Luthra, R. P., Mishra, R. and Saini, G. (2012) Miswak: A periodontist’s perspective, Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, 3(4), pp. 184–187.

[16] Gazi, M., Saini, T., Ashri, N. and Lambourne, A. (1990) Meswak chewing stick versus conventional toothbrush as an oral hygiene aid, Clinical Preventive Dentistry, 12(4), pp. 19–23.

[17] Al-Otaibi, M., Al-Harthy, M., Gustafsson, A., Johansson, A., Claesson, R. and Angmar-Månsson, B. (2004) Subgingival plaque microbiota in Saudi Arabians after use of miswak chewing stick and toothbrush, Journal of Clinical Periodontology, 31(12), pp. 1048–1053.

[18] Batwa, M., Bergström, J., Batwa, S. and Al-Otaibi, M. F. (2006) The effectiveness of chewing stick miswak on plaque removal, 18(3), p. 9.

[19] Patel, P. V., Shruthi, S. and Kumar, S. (2012) Clinical effect of miswak as an adjunct to tooth brushing on gingivitis, Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, 16(1), pp. 84–88.

[20] Patel, P. V., Shruthi, S. and Kumar, S. (2012) Clinical effect of miswak as an adjunct to tooth brushing on gingivitis, Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, 16(1), pp. 84–88.

[21] Danielsen, B., Baelum, V., Manji, F. and Fejerskov, O. (1989) Chewing sticks, toothpaste, and plaque removal, Acta Odontologica Scandinavica, 47(2), pp. 121–125.

[22] Darout, I. A., Albandar, J. M. and Skaug, N. (2000) Periodontal status of adult Sudanese habitual users of miswak chewing sticks or toothbrushes, Acta Odontologica Scandinavica, 58(1), pp. 25–30.

[23] Al-Otaibi, M., Al-Harthy, M., Söder, B., Gustafsson, A. and Angmar-Månsson, B. (2003) Comparative effect of chewing sticks and toothbrushing on plaque removal and gingival health, Oral Health & Preventive Dentistry, 1(4), pp. 301–307.

Published by أبو زكريا عيسى الألباني

BSc (Hons) Microbiology | Qur'ān | Sunnah |

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