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Bush Medicine
by admin on: October 6th, 2011

In Australia traditional, indigenous, medicine is known as “bush medicine.”

Bush medicine is based on the fundamental premise that there are two causes of illness – supernatural and natural. Natural remedies would be used to treat natural illness and spiritual cures would be used to treat supernatural illness. Supernatural illness, they believe, is caused by evil spirits and can only be treated by the medicine man, healer, or shaman of the tribe. This is less unusual than it sounds, supernatural illness is quite similar to the psychological diseases classified by modern medicine.

Both plants and animals are used to make bush medicine. However, plants anatomy (such as leaves, bark and seeds) make up the bulk of their medicines. For example, young leaves of paperbark are chewed to treat headaches. As for animal sources, goanna, which are Australian monitor lizards,and emu fat are both commonly used in bush medicine remedies.

In Australia’s Northern Territory, medicines are made from African tamarind tree fruit (Tamarindus indica), asthma plant (Euphorbia hirta), the South American billygoat weed (Ageratum), and Jerusalem thorn (Parkinsonia aculeata). In Central Australia, the Pitjantjatjara people chew the leaves of South American tree tobacco (Nicotiana glauca).

The upshot of bush medicine is that there are no prescribed doses of medicines. They do not quantify the medicine mixtures. They have a system of choosing the right plants at the right time of the year – aromatic lemon grass must be chosen when it is green and toothed ragwort leaves (Pterocaulon serrulatum) has the greatest potency just after a rain storm. Green plum leaves (Buchanania obovata) are also most potent after a wet season.

Although less scientific than western medicine, pharmacutical firms worldwide are investigating Bush medicine’s traditional remedies.

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