Medicinal Plants in Australia

Medicinal Plants in Australia (2010)

Volume 1 Bush Pharmacy
Cheryll Williams
Rosenberg Publishing Dural Australia.
ISBN 978-1877058790

Medicinal Plants in AustraliaThis is the first of a series of four volumes that are going to be essential for the library of any health care professional who is interested in botany, herbalism and the Australian bush pharmacopedia in particular.

The comprehensive description of medicinal Australian plants with great photos for easy identification is ground breaking literature. The text details the plants that have been used in Australia to influence the outcome of disease entities, their active principles, and explanations of why and how they work.

The Author Cheryll Williams has over 25 years experience as a herbalist, nutritionist, homeopath and acupuncturist. Her avid interest and passion for Australian medicines is obvious with the detail and love that has been poured into this work.

The text is divided into eleven chapters with a resource section and index.

Starting off with the floral pharmacy discussing history and where we are going in the future gives the reader an idea of how important it is to document and preserve Australia’s bush medicines.

Chapter one discusses the plants of the pioneers and the search for food and medicines. Vitamin C is featured in this section and the essential drugs of the physicians medicine chest. Chapter two then goes on to discuss herbal impressions, remedies from the bush. Medicinal tucker such as orchids, the genus of Geodorum. Tonics or toxins? Australian analogues of European healing herbs, insect repellents, mints and basils, wound healing herbs and the genus Pittosporum are discussed in easy to read, yet detailed content.

Chapter three is all about Sarsaparilla and Sassafras, old remedies in a new country. This includes true and false sarsaparilla and the search for sassafras. Chapter four discusses Xanthorrhoea grass tree medicines with descriptions of early botanical collections in Australia, the medical resource of grass tree resin and its uses as a food, fuel and varnish. There is discussion on its environmental and conservation concerns and the related genus of Lomandra

Floral emissaries are covered next in Chapter five covering areas such as Banks’ Florilegium, naming the genus Eucalyptus, Australian carnivorous plants, bottlebrushes, the genus Telopea, Banksia, Grevillea and Hakea. Did you know that vines and trees were sources of water? Bush beverages in chapter 6 discusses nectars for fermentation, experimental brews, cider making, coffee substitutes, kurrajongs seeds and food as medicine. And of course the Arcadia coffee.

The detail and interest in this book just gets better and better as you delve into the world of bush tucker bugs in chapter seven. Discussing native “manna” and sugary saps, sweet bush foods, edible bugs and grubs, insect and vegetable types, edible beetles, witchery grubs, nutritional analysis of caterpillars, feasting on bogong moths, tasty hoppers, locusts and crickets , galls and grubs and are edible insects the food crop of the future? Moving right along we learn about native honeys, sweet surprises and medicinal and toxic honey in chapter eight. Australian native bees , tea tree honey, eucalypt honey, flavonoids and identifying the origin of the honey, antioxidant qualities to honey and the discussion of an ancient medicine and a modern medicine showing some studies on honey including Jarrah honey and antifungal properties in honey. Just when you think you have the info, we delve into toxic honey.

Chapter nine is about fragrant medicines. The native myrtles, Boronia as a perfume crop, chemical constituents and essential oils. Lillipillies, flowers and fruits that make them distinct and the medicinal Malay apple with details of pharmacological studies into Syzygium. Sandalwood as an aromatic export is the focus of chapter ten discussing early sustainable harvesting, oils, quality and constituents medicinal traditions, the modern Australian Sandalwood industry with relationship to international trends. Medicinal value and the native Quandong, an edible fruit are covered in this chapter that also discusses Sandalwoods Australian relatives.

Chapter eleven introduces the famous Australian gum tree, Eucalyptus, its survival strategies, classification, versatitity, the economic and environmental prospects , the international acceptance of Eucalypt medicines and the down side of plant exports..

The resource section is divided into chapters and there are literally hundreds of fabulous books, articles, research papers and clinical trials to feast your research buds into action if you find a specific area of interest in the text. The index is comprehensive and covers common and botanical names very well.

Australia is a country rich in unique plant species and having this text certainly expands the potential for pharmacy in herbal medicines for us all. My appreciation was enhanced of the Australian medicinal history of flora and I highly recommend this text to all herbalists, integrative healthcare practitioners and students. I especially recommend this book to any gardener who has enough time to roam the nursery and enough room in their garden to grow some of these incredibly beautiful, aromatic and medicinal plants. And , I can’t wait for the next volumes.

© Dominique Finney March 30th 2011.