Indigenous Medicine, a fusion of ritual and remedy
gumby gumby

Indigenous Medicine, a fusion of ritual and remedy


A great article from the Conversation talking about Gumby Gumby and many other important indigenous plant medicines...


Indigenous Australian practices, honed over thousands of years, weave science with storytelling. In this Indigenous science series, we look at different aspects of First Australians' traditional life and uncover the knowledge behind them. In this instalment, we examine some medicinal plants and ceremonies.

Gumby Gumby – an all-rounder

  1. angustifolium.Mark Marathon/Wikimedia Commons,CC BY-SA

Pittosporum angustifolium – also known as “Gumby Gumby” – was involved in a significant number of traditional medicinal applications. The most common of these were related to treatment of coughs and colds and eczema, and for lactagogue (milk let-down) activity.

Volatiles from Gumby Gumby have structural similarities to compounds identified in mother-infant bonding(including acetic acid decyl ester or 1-dodecanol, if you’d like more detail).

Perhaps these compounds were traditionally involved as a lactagogue, particularly because the leaves were used in heating as a compress and to fumigate a nursing woman’s breasts.

read about the other traditional plants

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