Aboriginal people or are the indigenous people of Australia and other Islands nearby. They make up 2.7% of the Australian population.
They were there forty thousand years or more before Captain Cook first stepped foot in Australia.
The aborigines had a great knowledge of all herbal medicine or bush medicine as it is often called. In the past all herbal medicine was essential for the aborigines, after all there was no local chemist to run to.
The Arnhem Land Aborigines consume pieces of termite mound as well as white clay to cure stomach upsets and diarrhoea.(See eating dirt for more information about people who eat earthy substances.) New born babies were rubbed with oils and steamed, mothers were also steamed.
Unfortunately all herbal medicine knowledge that was acquired by past generations has mostly been lost.
European settlers were largely responsible for this, as they not only displaced the aborigines but they also introduced diseases that the aborigines had little resistance to. Another reason is that they adopted westernized life styles.
In the last 20 years anthropologists have been working hard to try record what is left of all herbal medicine. Here are some examples of the bush medicine they used to treat ailments.
Aborigines today have a life expectancy of 17 years less than white Australians and higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, drug and alcohol abuse as well as domestic violence. They are often ridiculed, discriminated against and subjected to racism.
The most famous Australian aborigine is Cathy Freeman who won a gold medal in the Sydney 2000 Olympics. She is a fantastic role model; she set up the Cathy Freeman foundation which aims to give young indigenous Australians a brighter future.
Dilthan Yolngunha: The Healing Place, was set up by East Arnhem Land Indigenous leaders in 2007. All herbal medicine there is practiced alongside western medicine. This is a short video about the work the healing place does.