Common Name: Sydney Peppermint
Transcript of Aunty Fran Bodkin explaining the uses of Eucalyptus piperita:
Eucalyptus piperita, that’s one of the very important Eucalypts. The bark was used for the making of weapons and implements. The fresh gum was collected, mixed with warm water and applied to sores, burns, cuts and scabies. The hardened gum was soaked in warm water and when soft applied to skin lesions where it would form a film over the lesion. This could be repeated several times a day but most often didn’t have to, the application would stay on the wound.
The dry hardened gum was ground to a powder then placed directly onto sores and wounds to stop bleeding. This was quite effective, it was also an antiseptic, a quite powerful antiseptic too so it also stopped infection.
The leaves and twigs could be placed on a low fire in an enclosed space, either a small gunya (dwelling) or even a small cave and the vapour was inhaled to reduce the discomfort of fever and that is the hot sweats that you get with a fever. The leaves and twigs were bruised then soaked in hot water, when cooled the liquid was used to bathe the head to relieve cold and fever symptoms – and it’s really pleasant to put the cold or the cool liquid on your head, it really made you feel a lot better.
The inner bark was boiled in water, then allowed to cool, strained and the liquid used to bathe sores and ulcers and it’s really effective on ulcers.
The young leaves were boiled until the liquid had turned green, the liquid was allowed to cool, was strained and used as a wash for joint or muscle pain. One of the things we used to do instead of using it as a wash we would put in – you know the round holes in the bed of a river – and you would place the bruised leaves and that in that hole. You would then put a burning or a hot rock in that hole to warm the water and then when the rock was a bit cool, but the water was still warm, the patient would get in there a soak. It was like a beautiful medicated bath.
The bark exudate was dissolved in hot water which was then strained and taken to relive the inflammation of the bladder – didn’t take too much of it and make sure you spat out any of the bark fragments. The exudate again, was mixed with cold water until dissolved and then used as a mouthwash to treat toothaches or mouth ulcers.
The leaves were mashed to a pulp and taken relieve extreme diarrhoea and again this was a very, very effective cure for diarrhoea.
The bark exudate was soaked in hot water until completely dissolved and the liquid was gently applied to ringworms or any other skin fungi disease, including tinea – which is really good for tennis players nowadays.
The leaves and twigs were used to smoke evil spirits out of men – this is a good one – build a nice fire and you gather the leaves and the twigs and you put it on the fire and you made him sit there and breathe it in – and if you were lucky you’d watch the evil spirits fly out.