Throughout Australia, Aborigines believed that serious illness and death were caused by spirits or persons practising sorcery. Even trivial ailments, or accidents such as falling from a tree, were often attributed to malevolence. Aboriginal culture was too rich in meaning to allow the possibility of accidental injury and death, and when someone succumbed to misfortune, a man versed in magic was called in to identify the culprit.These spiritual doctors were men (rarely women) of great wisdom and stature with immense power. Trained from an early age by their elders and initiated into the deepest of tribal secrets, they were the supreme authorities on spiritual matters. They could visit the skies, witness events from afar, and fight with serpents. Only they could pronounce the cause of serious illness or death, and only they, by performing sacred rites, could effect a cure. The healing of trivial non-spiritual complaints, using herbs and other remedies, was practiced by all Aborigines, although older women were usually the experts. To ensure success, plants and magic were often prescribed side-by-side.
Plants were prepared as remedies in a number of ways. Leafy branches were often placed over a fire while the patient squatted on top and inhaled the steam. Sprigs of aromatic leaves might be crushed and inhaled, inserted into the nasal septum, or prepared into a pillow on which the patient slept. To make an infusion, leaves or bark were crushed and soaked in water (sometimes for a very long time), which was then drunk, or washed over the body. Ointment was prepared by mixing crushed leaves with animal fat. Other external treatment included rubbing down the patient with crushed seed paste, fruit pulp or animal oil, or dripping milky say or a gummy solution over them. Most plant medicines were externally applied.
Medicine plants were always common plants. Aborigines carried no medicine kits and had to have remedies that grew at hand when needed. If a preferred herb was unavailable, there was usually a local substituteby
Native …Aborigines traditionally used Lilly Pilly for its great healing and anti bacterial properties and ate the berries when in season for the vitamin C content. The Lilly Pilly has good astringent properties that improve firmness of the skin, while its high vitamin C and fruit acid content create great anti-ageing effects to keep skin looking radiant and youthful.
It’s that time of the year again when Santa makes his appearance with a sack full of goodies and we all get a couple of weeks off work.
To celebrate the occasion the Herbal Society of Australia is organising the customary Christmas lunch for all its members. Members who are interested to join Christmas party, please contact Paul Anderson by 5th December for details.
History of Tea Tree Oil
“The legendary Princess Eelemani of the Bundjalung people was the Johnny Appleseed of tea tree oil. In the legend of Eelemani we learn of a beautiful princess who has to leave her true lover and travel through the bushland of coastal New South Wales. The journey was long and the forest trail was unknown to Eelemani. She was concerned that the return to her loved one and family would be difficult. Eelemani was no ordinary princess and so she spoke to the Gods of the earth and planets and was rewarded with special seeds that were to be sown along the trails.
As Eelemani walked through the forests, the bell birds called reassuringly and willie wagtails followed protectively through their territory. The special seeds were scattered on the moist, fertile forest soil. Falling to the ground, they grew roots and shoots and flew towards the sunlight. So remarkable were these trees that their beautiful white paper bark stood out from all the other trees. At night the polished sheen reflected the light of the moon showing the trail. Eelemani felt so safe knowing that the Gods had given her such a powerful marker to protect her on her journey.
And so the trees of Eelemani flourished and over the aeons of time the Bundjalung people came to learn of the magical properties: Just as the trees had protected Eelemani, the leaves were found to protect against infection and skin ailments.
It is difficult to know the truth of the story that Banks, the Endeavour botanist brewed some tea from a ‘tea like’ plant and hence created ‘Australian Tea Tree’. Certainly the story of Eelemani is more credible – especially if you have tasted tea made from either Leptospermum or Melaleuca spp.“