"Effects Of Prohibited Foods, Intoxicants, 
and Ingredients On Human Hormones And Behavior"
by Shahid Athar, M.D.


" He has forbidden you dead meat, and blood, and flesh of swine , and on which any other name has been invoked besides that of Allah. But if one is forced by necessity without willful disobedience, nor transgressing, due limits.... than he is not guilty, for Allah is forgiving, merciful."

" Forbidden to you are: Dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine and that on which has been invoked a name other than Allah's, and that killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death: That which has been eaten by a wild animal: Unless you are able to slaughter it, that which has been sacrificed on stone: (forbidden) also is the divination of arrows: that is impiety.

"Say: I find not in the Message received by me by inspiration any meat forbidden to be eaten by one who wishes to eat of it, unless it be dead meat, or blood poured forth, or the flesh of swine, for it is an abomination, - or what is impious, (meat) on which a name has been invoked, other than God's. But even so, if a person is forced by necessity without wilful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits, - Your Lord is Oft-Forgiving , Most Merciful."

"He has-only forbidden you dead meat, and blood; and the flesh of swine, and any (food) over which the name of other than God has been invoked. But if one is forced by necessity without wilful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits, - Your Lord is Oft-Forgiving , Most Merciful."


"They ask you concerning wine and gambling. Say: "In them there is great sin, and some profit, for men, but sin is greater than the profit."

"O you who believe! Approach not prayers, with a mind befogged, until you can understand all that you say."

"O you who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination of Satan's handiwork. Avoid such (abomination) that you may prosper."

"Satan's plan is to sow enmity and hatred among you with intoxicants and gambling, and to hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. Will you not then give up."


I. "That which is lawful is plain and that which is unlawful is plain and between the two of them are doubtful matters about which many people do not know. Thus he who avoids doubtful matters clears himself in regards to his religion and his honour, but he who falls into doubtful matters falls into that which is unlawful." (narrated by Abu Abdullah An Numan Bin Bashar-R.A. Reported in Bukhari and Muslim.)

2. "Allah the Almighty has laid down religious duties, so do not neglect them; He has set boundaries, so do not cross them; He has prohibited some things, so do not violate them; about some things. He was silent out of compassion for you, not due to forgetfulness-, so do not seek after them." (narrated by Abu Tbalaba Al Khushani Jurtum Bin Nashir-R.A.reported in Ad-Daraqutni.)

3. "Allah the Almighty is pure and accepts only that which is pure. Allah has asked the believers to do that He asked the messengers, and the Almighty has said: (23:5 1) " 0 you messengers! Eat of the pure things and do right." And Allah the Almighty has said: (2:172) "O you who believe! Eat of the pure things that we have provided you." Then the Prophet (pbuh) gave example of a man tired and dusty after a long journey, raises his hands to the sky and says: "O Lord! 0 Lord!".. while his food is unlawful, Ns drink is unlawful, his clothing is unlawful, and he is nourished unlawfully, so how can his prayers be answered?" (Narrated by Abu Huraira-R.A. reported in Muslim.)


It is not required of the believer to always find a scientific justification for the divine prohibitions.However, if they look and find it, they must share the information, that will increase their faith. To the contrary, lack of confirmation should not question the authenticity of the Quran. We believe that all Quranic statements are true, and if science has not confirmed some of them yet, it will do so in the future, may be it needs to examine its data more deeply or repeat the experiment.

For the benefits of non-medical readers, before I describe the topic in question i.e. hormonal and behavioral effect of prohibited food, intoxicants and ingredients, I must define some medical terms and inter-relationships:



These are the powerful secretions of Endocfine (internal) glands. They control the functions of all organs, and even individual cells. They are made from proteins (peptides) or sterols in nature. The endocrine glands are hypothalmus which secretes various releasing hormones for pituitary, and pituitary which secretes hormones for target endocrine glands. Both of them are inside the brain. Target endocrine glands are thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones control our metabolism, energy level, and temperature tolerance. Behind them are para-thyroid gland which control our calcium metabolism. In the abdomen are adrenal glands above the kidneys which secrete cortisone, the life saving essential hormone, and catecholamines and aldosterone which control our blood pressure and heart-rate. steroids and catecholamines are derived from cholesterol. Also in the abdomen is the pancreas which secretes insulin which lowers blood sugar, and glycogen which raises a low blood sugar. Lower down in the pelvis are gonads, ovaries in women, and testes in men, which secrete estrogen, progesterone and testosterone respectively. All these hormones have internal control, and influence each other. They control our growth, muscle mass, bone development, temperature tolerance, blood pressure, energy, fertility, sex desire, thirst, and well being in general.



The site of secretion of releasing hormone, and of neurotransmitter in the brain are the same in the hypothalmic area. Most of the psychotropic drugs either act by increasing or decreasing the neurotransmitter levels i.e epinephrine, norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine or endorphrin level in the hypothalmic area. Similarly, peurotransmitters influence hormone secretion.

Clinically we see various behavioral manifestations in endocrine disorders. Hypoglycemic patients (low blood sugar) suffer from depression and poor mental concentration and patients with low thyroid have impotency and depression, while patients with high thyroid have agitation, irritability, and lack of sleep. Patients with low cortisone (Addison Disease) have severe depression while with high cortisone have hallucination and psychosis. Patients with high testosterone have been claimed to have criminal tendencies (i.e. rapists) while low testosterone have behavioral problems in adjustment. Patients with calcium changes.

Physiologically, boys and girls are different in playing behavior i.e. aggressive versus passive (playing with mechanical toys and guns versus dolls) due to difference in their sex hormone even in pre-pubertal age. This becomes more obvious after full sex differentiation takes place. In fact, by changing the sex hormone level of a given sex one can change not only the sexual behavior but the aggressiveness of a particular sex. Homosexual males have been noted to have less male sex hormones, and on the other hand, repeated sex offending males can be "cured" by castration or by the injection of the female hormone progesterone. In one experiment, female rats whose mothers were treated with testosterone while pregnant showed male behavior pattern of threatening peer, rough play, and increased sexual activity as compared to a control rat. This shows that testosterone not only affects the individual, but the offspring as well. Girls with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (excessive testosterone secretion) when in post puberty age show tomboy attitude with liking rough sports, preferring boys as playmates, and low interest in dolls and baby care. Sexual behavior is not only affected by testosterone, but also by the pineal gland which is turned off and on by light and darkness.

Hormones, not directly but indirectly by controlling\sugar, calcium, sodium balance,affect behavior in general to include anger, love, anxiety, panic attacks, and agitation. The hyperactivity in children could be due to low blood sugar or due to many food preservatives and coloring agent like nitrites, and Dye No. 5.

After this much introduction of hormones, and behavior, I turn to the main theme.


Pork meat and fat are not only prohibited to Muslims, but were also prohibited to Jews and Christians as well because "Swine were designed to be scavengers, to eat up filth." In old testament Leviticus Chapter 7-8, it is mentioned about swine " Though he divides the hoof and be cloven footed, yet he cheweth not the cud, he is unclean to you. Of their flesh shall you not eat." There is no mention in the Bible that Jesus ever ate pork in his life. It was Paul who declared all food and drink permissible saying, "To the pure, everything is pure."


To get a first hand idea, I interviewed farmers of Fisher, Indiana, who breed swine. According to them "Swine is cheaper to breed, since it does not require pasture, it can live on manure and other such items including dead meat. In fact, it can even eat its own feces. Their sexual habits are also different from other animals like cow, sheep and goat. Swine have very little shame i.e. engage in sex acts anytime anyplace. The female hog is very aggressive in sexual activities when she is in "heat" she does not care about anything (i.e. food or privacy) until she has the sex. They i.e. swine, also lick the genitals of their partners after sex like dogs, but not other mammals like cow, sheep or goat."


Fats are lipids which are a source of energy. They can be of vegetable source or of animal source. Triglycerides are neutral fats with 1 molecule of glycerol and three fatty acids. The fatty acids can be saturated or unsaturated.The more unsaturated fats have high melting points. The iodine value of fat gives the degree of un saturation. The iodine value of lard is 65, beef 45, and mutton 32. After ingestion, emulsification of fat takes place in the stomach by gastric lipase. By pancreatic lipase hydrolysis of triglyceride into glycerol and fatty acids takes place. The fatty acids and glycerol are used by various tissues like muscle, heart, kidney, and liver for an energy source. Herbivorous (plant eating) animals have unsaturated fatty acid on the position 2 of the triglyceride (tg) molecule, while the carnivorous (meat eating )animals have saturated fatty acid at the position 2. Pancreatic lipase (pl) can not hydrolyze TG molecule if saturated fatty acid at position 2. Fat of dogs, rats, cats, and pork, have saturated fatty acids on positions 2. If a person eats fat of herbivomus animal, the fat will be hydrolyzed, absorbed, and then re synthesized and stored as human fat, while that of carnivorous animals and pork fat will not be hydrolyzed and therefore has to be deposited in humans as pork fat in the adipose tissue.


Circulating hormones are in bound form and free form. The free form has to be attached to receptor in fat tissue before becoming active. Obesity decreases the number of receptors therefore the hormones cannot be utilized. Therefore, if the hormone is insulin, it leads to diabetes (type 2); and if it is testosterone, it leads to sub fertility and amenorrhea. The amount of fat also controls hormone release. Therefore we see menarche is delayed in athletic girls with less fat, and occurs early in sedentary overweight girls.

It can be postulated that in humans who have pork fat deposit there is derangement in the binding of hormones, therefore they have a higher level of circulating active hormone. It is possible that the sexual promiscuity and deviant sexual practices of pork eating society is due to what they eat ! After all, it has been said by nutritionists, "Yor are what you eat."

Since this is a paper on hormones and behavior, the time does not permit discussing the effect of pork on cholesterol, sodium and the relationship to heart disease.


Dead meat is the meat of animal which died before slaughtering and blood could not flow out, and blood ingestion is not only the drinking of blood as it was prevalent in the Jahiliya of Arabia or even now in Africa (and in France) but also the blood which is retained inside the meat by improper killing of the animal. All hormones, and antibodies are retained in the blood, and all infective organisms including virus flourish in the blood media, therefore ingestion of such will be dangerous midecally. It may also induce animal instincts as seen in carnivorous animals like dogs, cats, and lions.


Both in acute and chronic alcoholism, endocrine glands are affected. Hypoglycemia is a manifestation of acute alcoholism which may be severe, and can lead to coma. This should be recognized and treated with dextrose intravenously since it mat not respond to glycogen. Low magnesium with resultant low calcium is another effect resulting in poor concentration, muscle twitching and even seizure. Increase in urine flow is due to depression of antidiuretic hormone.

Chronic alcoholism leads to pancreatitis with failure of pancreatic endocrine system (sometimes Diabetes) and exocrine gland (malnutrition). This leads to protein deficiency leading to reduced production of testosterone, which may lead to impotency, gynecomastia in men and amenorrhea in women. Alcoholics can also have a pseudo (false) cushing syndrome. Alcohol related liver disease causes increased clearance of testosterone with testicular atrophy leading to true hypogonadism. Sperm formation is also affected leading to infertility. Infants born to an alcoholic mother can also have undercended testes and labial hypoplasia. In addition, the cortisol levels are increased during withdrawal, while LH and LH-RH levels are suppressed during chronic alcoholism.


Alcohol, being a central nervous system depressant, depresses both facilitatory and inhibitory pathways. It is the suppression of the latter that abolishes the shame and removes control. Therefore, what a normal person will be prevented from doing i.e. abusive language, undressing in public, etc. will not be prevented under the influence of alcohol. There are more serious behavioral disorders described to include brain disjunction in 50- 70%, memory loss, depression both acute and chronic, high suicide rate, mood fluctuation, delirium tremorous (DTS) in withdrawal state, and blackout spells during drinking. One-third of all auto accidents are due to alcoholism. Under the influence of alcohol are mental judgement and motor skills, which are both affected. Sometimes the level of consciousness is also affected. Alcohol had been found to be at the root of family violence, sexual violence, rape, assault, and child abuse.

Alcohol is not an aphrodisiac, as it is claimed. Not only does it depress the central nervous system's effect on the libido, but actually lowers the penile blood flow and tumescence (swelling) thereby decreasing the performance.


Both LSD and cocaine cause decreases in plasma testosterone and LH. The aphrodisiac effect is due to local anesthesia causing prolonged erection and central stimulation causing general well being. Also by inhibiting the inhibitions, they encourage engagement in unusual sex acts like sodomy or oral genital sex.

Psychologically they cause mood elation and a false sense of euphoria followed by depression, anxiety and agitation Panic attacks, suicidal tendencies, and violent behaviors are not uncommon. Chronic usage may lead to schizophrenia, paranoia, and a variety of psychiatric disorders, even infants born to cocaine addicted mothers show signs of withdrawal.


If ingredients are of prohibited nature, i.e. pork, lard, alcohol, cocaine etc., the effect will be as described earlier, though because of the small quantity, the effect will be slow and may be cumulative.

More serious are items like sugar which causes reactive hypoglycemia; sodium which may lead to hypertension; DES (Diethylstillbestrol, a female hormone given to cattle and chickens to increase fat and muscle content) linked to vaginal and cervical cancer in women; and artificial sweeteners like saccharine related to bladder cancer in rats, and aspartame related to brain damage.


More research is needed on all of the above areas, especially those affecting the life style of Muslims. Though usage of prohibited items are not commonly found in Muslims, the dangers also may come to their health and spirits by the effects of non-prohibited items like western rock music, dress (i.e. tight jeans affecting testicular temperature) and sexual practices, and cigarette smoking.


1. Qur'an;2:173,5:4,6:145,16:115,2:219,4:43,5:98,5:91.
2. Yusaf Al Qardawi; The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam: 39-61.
3. Hussaini, M.M. and A.H. Sakr. 1983, Islamic Dietary Laws and Practices, Published by the Islamic Food and Nutiition Council of America, Chicago, Illinois U.S.A.
4. William,R.H.;Test Book of Endocrinolocy. 6th edition:chapter on Psychoendocrinology.
5. Felig & Baxter; Endocrinology and Metabolism.
6. Goodart & Shils; Modern Nutrition in Health And Disease: 6th edition.
7. Badri,M.B.; Islam and Alcoholism: ATP Publication, lndianapolis.
8. Saud, M.A.; Sex Roles in Muslim Families in U.S.A.; Published in  Al-ittihad.
9. Drucker, WM.; Endocrinc Abnormalities caused by Alcobolism; Medical Aspect of Human Sexuality-Vol. 16, No. 12, Dec. 1982.
10. Eckardt et al; Health Hazard Associated with Alcohol Consumption: JAMA 1981.
11. Washton and Stone; Human Cost of Cocaine Use; Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality-Vol. 18, No. II, Nov. 1984.
PRESENTED ON: September 20, 1986 at the Fourth Annual Convention of the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, held at the Muslim Community Center, Chicago.

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