More than 50% of therapeutically used medications are either derived from plants or based on plant compounds. It should therefore come as no surprise that Australia, with over 24,000 species of native plants
, should be one of the richest sources of healing plants. From kangaroo paws to bottlebrushes, native plants are not just beautiful to look at but also useful for medicinal and skincare purposes. Below are just a few easy-to-grow plants that can embellish your garden while also boosting your and your family’s health
Callistemon or Bottlebrushes
Bottlebrush flowers have long been a source of food for many Indigenous Australians, who also used this plant to treat a host of infections caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites. These plants are extremely sturdy and practically impossible to kill, so they are a great addition to the garden of green thumbs who nevertheless don’t have a lot of spare time. Indigenous Australians also use it as an energy drink, and it is said to be effective against kidney infections, haemorrhoids, tuberculosis, and arthritis. You can take this plant by making tea from it. Simply cut the leaves and blossoms, give them a rinse, and add them to boiling water, allowing the flowers and leaves to seep for around 15 minutes. Strain out the flowers and leaves and enjoy your tea!
Davidsonia Pruriens or the Davidson Plum
When it comes to fighting ageing and skin inflammation, the Davison plum is an ideal plant to keep in mind. This plant produces a dark purple fruit that is not only a popular treat for rainforest animals, but also extremely high in antioxidants (even higher than blueberries) and high in fruit acids and vitamins. Antioxidants are vital components of skincare
because they keep skin cells healthy and keep fine lines, wrinkles, and skin diseases at bay. The plum contains an ingredient that has been found in studies to help prevent wrinkles
and fight free radicals. This ingredient is anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory properties and has a similar effect to alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) on the skin. You can apply this plum directly to your skin, or simply look out for this ingredient in Australian-made organic anti-ageing serums and hydrating creams.
Kunzea Pomifera or Emu Apples
Emu apples, also called native cranberries, are tasty reddish/green or purple berries that grow along the south coast of Australia. In one study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, it was found that emu apples have the second-highest free radical fighting power
of the seven plants analysed. These berries are rich in Vitamin C and they wield a host of skin benefits, including collagen support and hydration. They are additionally rich in helpful acids such as amino, gallic, and organic acids, which help regulate skin collagen synthesis, fight inflammation, and exfoliate and hydrate skin, respectively. While you can apply this berry directly to the skin, you may find it more comfortable to use a serum or cream made of this ingredient.
Pycnoporus Sp or Desert Mushrooms
Some Indigenous Australians such on this bright orange mushroom to soothe a sore mouth or lips. Because it has no side effects, it is often used as a natural teething ring and can be given to babies with oral thrush. It can also be used to treat a wider range of ailments, including arthritis and sore throat, fever, haemorrhage, and ulcers. It is also a powerful antibacterial plant and is used in pharmaceuticals against E-coli and pneumonia
Centipeda Cunninghamii or Old Man’s Weed
This plant, which grows in abundance along the Murray River, is used to treat a host of issues, including skin problems eye infections, and tuberculosis. It is usually administered as an extract in water, though it can also be directly rubbed onto skin. It is typically employed to aid in the recovery from colds and flu, but it is a naturally restorative plant that can help boost the immune system and even aid in mobility
Australia is home to tens of thousands of native plants, so the above list is just a tiny fraction of nature’s immense healing powers. Currently, many of these plants are active components of pharmaceutical medications. However, many of their benefits can be harnessed directly, so make sure to open your eyes to the native plants that surround you and conduct your research into how they can help boost your health and wellbeing.
This article was written and contributed by Australian native enthusiast, Briana Hilton.