The Rise of Arabian Tobacco ‘Dokha’ (دوخة) – History, Use, Myths, Health Effects

The Rise of Arabian Tobacco ‘Dokha’ (دوخة) – History, Use, Myths, Health Effects


If you’re from outside the Middle East or
North Africa region you’ve probably never
heard of the Arabian tobacco known as Dokha,
which is one of the most rapidly spreading
tobacco products in the middle east. It originated
in Northern Iran in the 15th century and was
traditionally smoked by Bedouins and Sailors
in the Arabian Peninsula. Now, it is smoked
by approximately 16.1% of UAE nationals and
according to Al-Houqani et al, it is the most
common tobacco product used after cigarettes.
Dokha tobacco is not harvested like cigarette
tobacco. It is cut and dried in the sun heat
for a few weeks without the use of any chemical
additives. As a result, this type of tobacco
preserves its strength, flavour, colour and
freshness. This means that Dokha has a higher
nicotine content compared to normal cigarettes
resulting in a stronger ‘buzz’ as well
as a quicker craving fulfilment. Other benefits
include it being cheaper and causing less
staining and odour that cigarettes.
The Dokha tobacco leaves are mixed with bark
and then crushed with spices, flowers and
herbs resulting in three different blends:
light, medium and strong which refer to the
‘buzz’ you get when smoking the tobacco.
Dokha is often blended with fruits and other
flavours to satisfy the taste buds of the
smoker.
Dokha is smoked by placing approximately half
a gram in a smoking pipe called a Medwakh
which produces two or three puffs, which is
enough to cause light headedness. On average,
it is smoked 12 times a day resulting in a
daily use of around 6 grams.
A common misconception of smoking Dokha is
that it is less harmful than cigarettes because
only a small amount is smoked and that it
is more natural and doesn’t contain any
additives. So let’s see what science says
about that.
Well firstly, Dokha is not completely pure,
as ingredients are added for aroma and taste
and according to Dr Yasser Sadawey, a medical
director at Burjeel Medical centre, Dokha
“carries the same risk as cigarette smoking”.
In fact, a study by Elsayed et al found the
presence of more than 400 compounds in Dokha
smoke including several toxic metals such
as cobalt, cadmium, chromium and lead in equal
or higher amounts than cigarettes. It also
identified 22 irritants, 3 known carcinogens
and 5 central nervous system depressants.
Moreover, even though a small amount of the
tobacco is smoked, a study found by Mahboub
et al found that Dokha tobacco contains 171%
more nicotine than cigarettes, 218% more nicotine
than chewing tobacco, 129% more nicotine than
snuff tobacco and 193% more nicotine than
electric cigarettes. Dokha tobacco also contained
56% more tar than cigarettes. Therefore, Dokha
smokers are at a higher risk of nicotine addiction.
Also, according to Shaikh et al, the effects
of smoking Dokha are similar to other forms
of tobacco including an increase in blood
pressure, heart rate and breathing rate at
rest. In addition to this, pipe smoking carries
more risk of developing mouth and lip ulcers
as well as cancer.
Despite the growing popularity of Medwakh
smoking, very little research has been done
on its health effects, but looking at the
research that has been done, it seems that
it may lead to the same or even worse diseases
that cigarette smoking. Although at this stage,
its use is mainly confined to the Middle East,
it is important to identify the health effects
of smoking Dokha and put to rest any myths
of its use before it becomes widespread like
Hookah smoking.
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22 thoughts on “The Rise of Arabian Tobacco ‘Dokha’ (دوخة) – History, Use, Myths, Health Effects

  • Be a man and take that Dokha hit playa….let us accept nature and take a strong hit and feel it in yo veins baby – feel that beautiful nic fill every part of your body – yes, you have achieved it, you have done it, you have scored and you have won, you have achieved NIRVANA. Don't be a struggler, be a smoker (of dokha).

  • I ordered some dohka a while back and wasn't a huge fan of the effects compared to regular cigarettes, so i put it on the backburner. Kind of glad I never got into it now, its more of a cool thing to do when you have the boys over playing D&D or something imo. I literally got a flavor thats themed after lord of the rings though, so thats why I say that i think.

  • Great informative video! Would it be possible for you to provide the source for your claim that Dokha contains around 57% more tar than cigarettes?

    I agree that it is harmful, however I don't see how it can possibly be as harmful as cigarettes; Cigarette smokers on average smoke 10 per day; each cigarette will yield 8-12 puffs. That equates to roughly 100 puffs per day. A dokha user, as you describe in your video, that smokes 12 times per day (which I would consider a heavy Dokha user) with approx. 2-3 puffs per bowl would be inhaling up to 36 times per day. As a result, the average Dokha smoker will inhale 64% less smoke than your average cigarette smoker. This means that, even if Dokha contains more tar, the net total of tar inhaled by a heavy dokha user smoking 12 bowls per day would still be less than your average smoker.

    I look forward to your response! 🙂

  • everything in moderation. you don't have to smoke dohka. people eat cannabis, you could have a nicotine gum. anyways i think the carbon monoxide in low doses has shown to mimic the beneficial effects of heme oxygenase 1 which is what saves people from malaria and other diseases that hijack our circulatory system.

  • I have been smoking dokha for 9 years. I only smoke at night, never in my day do I crave it. I think the studies are still at a young stage of understanding as it is a much cleaner form of tobacco.

  • I was just planning to start smoking after quitting tobacco pipe and cigarettes 20 years ago.watching this I quit again …..✌️

  • This is cool and all, but Dohka cured my friend Rupyrts clinical manic depression. Because of the magical aspects of Dohka, I have ascended to Ryan Pike level.

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