Jump to content
The Corroboree
hava

Book Exerpt/Notes re: Narcotics/Aphrodisiacs - Wild Medicine in Australia (A.B & J.W Cribb)

Recommended Posts

Found "Wild Medicine in Australia" by A.B & J.W Cribb in a local second hand bookstore recently. First published '81, I have the '88 reprint.

My apologies for any spelling errors or 'politically incorrect' names, this is hand typed from the book. Let me know if you would like me to expand on any of the text.

Chapter list:

1. Plants in Medicine

2. The Aboriginal Pharmacopoeia

3. Bush Remedies of the Pioneers

4. The European Tradition - Herbal Cures & Nostrums

5. Contributions from Other Cultures

6. Purely for Pleasure - Narcotics and Aphrodisiacs

7. Australian Plants in Modern Medicine

8. Animal, Vegetable, Mineral - Medicines and Treatments from Natural Sources

Here is a condensed list of native plants and usage/notes in the chapter titled "Purely for Pleasure - Narcotics and Aphrodisiacs"

Adriana glabrata

BITTER BUSH

Leaves dried as tobacco by aboriginals. Stock poison? Regarded as useful forage plant by some?

Qld, NSW, Vic, WA, NT

Amorphophallus

STINKING ARUM

19th century Daly River missionary recorded dried leaves were smoked giving an anaesthetic effect, similiar to ether or chloroform in effect. 'A short smoke makes one sleepy; if he smoke too long he will not awaken. While so sleeping he is, they say, unconscious of pain.' Unknown which species, A. galbra and A. variabilis occur in the NT.

Qld, NT.

Callicarpa longifolia

CHUKIN

Japanese along the Johnstone River in North Qld used the bark as a substitute for Piper betle leaf for chewing with areca. Plant contains toxic principle, reputed fish poison. Medicinal use in Malaysia, poultice for fevers, treating mouth and throat infections, gargle/mouthwash from leaves or bark.

Qld

Dodonaea

WILD HOPS, HOP-BUSH

Resembles true hops, not related. Used by early pioneer brewers to use as substitute, actually turned out pretty good... nice and bitter. D. angustissima, the slender hop-bush, gets a special mention.

D. viscosa leaves chewed in Peru like coca leaves... hop bush leaves have been used to adulterate/cut coca. Leaves and bark contain an alkaloid.

D. angustissima: All mainland states

D. viscosa: Qld, NSW, Vic, Tas., SA, NT

Duboisia hopwoodii

PITURI

The usual information. Of interest was possibly this paragraph:

"Preparation of the material for use was by roasting, moistening perhaps by chewing, and rolling with ashes into a quid about 5 cm long, a little more than 1 cm thich. Sometimes fibrous material was mixed in, either kangaroo hairs or threads from Psoralea, a pea flowered shrub. The ash used for preference was that of Acacia salicina, a wattle with a high content of calcium sulphate; it is thought this allowed the slow release of the alkaloid. When not being chewed or sucked, the roll was carried behind the ear, in much the way children of Western civilizations 'park' their chewing gum.'

and

'D. hopwoodii is a poisonous plant, and has a reputation of causing fatalities to stock. One of its common names in the inland is camel poison. It was widely used by the aborigines as an aid in catching emus. Twigs or leaves of the plant were put in small waterholes where the emus were known to drink. The birds became stupified and walked in circles, 'Him drunk, all same white fellow', and were easily caught. This practice was widespread where the plant grew, even in araes where it was not used as a narcotic; it was so common that a writer in 1874 advised that 'people travelling would be wise to avoid using water from these drinking places, or any small hole of surface water, as the blacks often put in some preparation to stupify the emu.'

Qld, NSW, SA, WA, NT

Eucalyptus

GUM TREE

A 'blend of dried leaves' were used to make 'a quite smokable cigarette tobacco with a soft, bush fragrance flavour'. The cigarettes were marketed with the advertising slogan 'Take a whiff of the gum forests into your home' and thought by some to give relief from bronchitis and asthma. No specific species.

Eucalyptus gunnii

CIDER GUM, RIBBONY GUM

Tasmanian gum with high sugar content, can be tapped like a sugar maple. Holes were bored in the trunk and the treacle-tasting sweet liquor was collected in a hole at the base. The hole was kept covered with flat stones for protection from animals. Natural fermentation from wild yeasts occurred after a time and intoxicating liquor resulted. Popular among everyone.

Evolvulus alsinoides var. sericeus

SKY CONVOLVULUS

Pituri substitute. Unknown alkaloid content. Early reputation as cure for dysentery, used as a tonic, febrifuge and vermifuge in India.

Qld, NSW, SA, WA, NT

Galbulimima belgraveana

ARGARA

New Guinea the bark as waken as a hallucinogen; warriors chewed it before tribal fights, and also rubbed it on their legs. It produces violent intoxication and hallucinations followed by extreme drowsiness. 28 different alkaloids isolated from the bark, including himandrine and himbacine.

Qld

Heteropogon contortus

BUNCH SPEAR GRASS

Masticatory narcotic 'chewed like tobacco' in Broome area. Dedoction as cough medicine. Indian medicine uses root as stimulant and diuretic, also for rheumatism.

Qld, NSW, WA, NT

Isotoma petraea

ROCK BLUEBELL, EURO FINGERS

Used as pituri chewed with ash or drunk for narcotic effect. Alkaloids similar to nicotine, and was regarded as 'strong chew', reportedly described by one group of aborigines as 'cheeky bugger'. Used as painkilled amongst tribes of the Kalgoorlie area; plant was dried over a fire, powdered and mixed with ash of mulga bark; a little of the mixture, when swallowed, was said to produce a 'burning and deadening sensation in the stomach'. In some other areas dry sticks of the plant were chewed. Intensely bitter milky sap, suspected stock poison.

Lysiphyllum carronii

BAUHINIA

Tribes in an area to the NW of Birdsville in far WQld. '...flowers of bauhinia were pounded in a wooden dish, the liquid was drained into a another vessel and mixed with sugary contents of the honey ant, Melophorus. (Honey ants have the abdomen swollen to a centimetre or more and filled with stored sugary solution.) The mixture was allowed to ferment for eight to ten days, giving a liquor described as semi-fermented. Probably it would be no worse than many other home brews.'

Nicotiana

INGULBA, NATIVE TOBACCO

'Although the pituri, Duboisia hopwoodii, is certainly the best known chewing narcotic used by the Aborigines, it seems from studies by anthropologists and comments from explorers, missionaries and settlers, that is was not the plant used over in the greater part of central Australia. In some cases it was reported that the chewing wad of dried leaves was wrapped, somewhat in the fashion of a cigar, in the leaf of the same species; this would not be possible with D. hopwoodii which as very narrow, stiff leaves.

It has been shown that the commonly used narcotic plants of Central Australia were two or more species of Nicotiana. This is the genus to which tobacco belongs, and it is interesting that the aborigines should have founf such closely related plants to use for a similar purpose to chewing tobacco. The method of use is similar to that described above for pituri: leaves could be chewed fresh but were often dried by heat, kneaded into small balls with the teeth, then dried in a thumb-sized lump to keep for later use. As with pituri ash was generally added before mastication; the ash was usually of an Acacia or Cassia or Ventilago; the wad was used by sucking or rolling in the mouth. In a friendly custom, the plug might be passed from one to another for a chew, and the owner would then replace it behind his ear, or perhaps in his armband, to save for later. Men only used the chewing plug, but women were permitted to chew fresh leaves. A report by J. M. Black, the eminent South Australian botanist, states: 'Natives value the plant much, and when the camels approached it they became very excited and pulled up the plants and placed them up on the rocks out of reach of the dreaded animals.'

The principal species seemed to have been:

N. excelsior SA, NT

N. gossei Qld, SA, NT

N. rosulata subsp. ingulba NSW, SA, WA, NT

Papaver somniferum

OPIUM POPPY

The usual information; 'occurring as a weed of cultivation in scattered areas'

Qld, NSW, Vic., Tas., SA

Amanita muscaria

FLY AGARIC

Vic.

Copelandia cyanescens

BLUE MEANIES

'This fungus has been reported to contain psilocybin, and is one of the species producing hallucinations. Before such an effect became desirable in some circles, there were cases of inexperienced mushroom gatherers being accidentally poisoned by eating it.'

Qld

Psilocybe cubensis

GOLD TOP, HYSTERIA TOADSTOOL

The following would be talking about '61 or earlier.

'Twenty years or so ago we heard fairly regularly on the radio about cases or toadstool poisoning, where the victimes either suffered frightening visions or felt extraordinary hilarity; warnings were broadcast about this 'hysterical mushroom', describing its yellow peaked cap, long stalk, dark gills, and habit of growing on dung. When the source of the poisoning was identified as Psilocybe cubensis, it was realized that the active principal was similar to that used to produce hallucinations and religious experiences in Central and South America and Mexico. The cult which built up at about that time in the United States spread to this country, and deliberate use of the drug has spread, despite its illegality.

There are in Australia two other species of Psilocybe, P. semilanceata and P. subaeruginosa, which have been found to contain the same sort of active principle. The drug is one of the psychomimetic, or mind-bending, toxins, and may have varying effects on different individuals, or even on the same individual at different times.

Qld, NSW

Native Aphrodisiacs

Archidendron grandiflorum (Pithecellobium grandiflorum)

FAIRY PAINTBRUSH, GIN'S LIPS

Abarema grandiflora

Denhamia obscura

Psychotria fitzalani

Balanophora fungosa

DRUMSTICKS

Lycopodium phlegmaria

COMMON TASSEL FERN

Phallus rubicundus

A STINKHORN

Pittosporum venulosum

Viscum articulatum

LEAFLESS MISTLETOE

Contraceptive Plants (inc. emmenagogues)

Calamus australis

LAWYER CANE

leaves, stem

Capsella bursapastoris

SHEPHERD'S PURSE

leaves

Cassytha filiformis

BUSH DODDER

stems

Casuarina equisetifolia

COASTAL SHEOAK

leaves, bark, stem

Chenopodium album

FAT-HEN

leaves

Commersonia fraseri

BLACKFELLOWS' HEMP

leaves

Cymbidium madidum

ARROWROOT ORCHID

fruit

Dicranopteris linearis

CORAL FERN

leaves

Dioscorea bulbifera

AERIAL YAM

roots

Entada phaseoliodes

MATCHBOX BEAN

fruits

Euodia alata

leaves

Flagellaria indica

SUPPLEJACK

leaves

Heritiera littoralis

LOOKING-GLASS TREE

leaves

Hibiscus tiliaceus

COTTON TREE

leaves

Hernandia peltata

LANTERN TREE

leaves, bark, stem

Ipomoea pes-caprae subsp. brasiliensis

GOAT'S-FOOT CONVOLVULUS

leaves, stem

Lygodium microphyllum

CLIMBING MAIDENHAIR FERN

leaves

Macaranga tanarius

TUMKULLUM

leaves

Morinda citrifolia

MORINDA

fruits

M. reticulara (Morinda?)

leaves

Murdannia graminea

SLUG HERB

leaves

Polygonum hydropiper

WATER PEPPER

leaves

Pongamia pinnata

INDIAN BEECH

roots

Rubus moluccanus

NATIVE RASPBERRY

stems

Terminalia catappa

INDIAN ALMOND

leaves

Urena lobata

PINK BURR

leaves, bark

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've hired this book out from the uni library a couple of times, has some interesting stuff in there!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would definitely love to have a read of that book! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is one book in a three book series.

the others being, "Wild food in Australia" and "Useful wild plants in Australia". Fascinating books. I have spent many happy hours reading through them, and then rereading.

There is also a book called "Australian Medicinal Plants" by Lassak and McCarthy, which is equally as good, and a little more up to date.

I am rereading "Wild Medicine in Australia" by A.B & J.W Cribb at the moment in order to chase up some of the tasmanian plants listed.

Cheers, Ob.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've hired this book out from the uni library a couple of times, has some interesting stuff in there!

when one is young and studies, we don't apreaciate the realy cool books, an uni has to offer,

i remeber reading for a while, a book from the csiro, which basicly showed the alkaloid research of all australian plants.

many of the entries, though, the results were achived by, field test's only.

Edited by planthelper

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gidday Hava! I've been looking for that book!

Could you do us all a great big favour and really cap off your fine work above?

Later on in the same book, if I remember (not real likely!), they mention with the imported "weed" type plants - one man's weed is another's sacred herb - Sida cordifolia ​& ​Sida rhombfolia "Felt Weed" and (sarcastically) "Queensland Hemp" introduced from India.

They state there although Sida comprises the medicine Bala in India, Australian strains have only trace amounts of alkaloids - if any! :(

Could you please find this and quote this section along with its reference. There's a few people I want to show this - so they get their hands on proper Bala - medical grade Indian sourced if poss.

Forum friends interested in the Australian material

Check out http://keyserver.lucidcentral.org/weeds/data/03030800-0b07-490a-8d04-605030c0f01/media/Html/Sida_cordifolia.htm

Important info there for our WA ethnobots - reckon NT would pay us to harvest it?

As I said - thank you terribly! And keep up the excellent work!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×