The Best Australian Native Bush Foods

Australian Native Bush Foods, or bush tucker, may be some of the most powerful anti-aging foods and herbal teas in the world! After evolving over millions of years to survive in our harsh climate, their benefits could extend to us, too.

  • Native Australian plants often demonstrate potential antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial abilities, which may prevent a wide range of issues.

These protective remedies include Lemon Myrtle, Aniseed Myrtle and Cinnamon Myrtle; as well as Strawberry Gum and Gumby Gumby. So how may they brighten our day?

Australian Native Superfoods

Lemon Myrtle

Lab research shows that Lemon Myrtle extract is a powerful antioxidant, able to mop up damaging oxidative molecules. It reduces the immune cells’ production of a wide range of inflammatory substances too, after they are exposed to bacterial toxins.

If you have a healthy digestive system, your immune cells don’t see much of these toxins in the blood. In the case of “leaky gut”, which has caused unaddressed food intolerances, the bacteria and their toxins can enter the bloodstream, with potentially damaging effects on the intestines and other organs.  

Lemon Myrtle smells amazing, with its fresh lemon scent. When most of us smell lemon or a similar herb, such as lemon balm or Lemon Myrtle, we feel happier and ready for anything. This is most likely because of shared essential oil components across all 'lemon' herbs. Lemon Myrtle essential oil is mostly made of citral, just like lemon balm. High-citral essential oils have shown anti-depressant effects, giving you a boost when you need it the most.

Both your inner and outer health are affected by inflammation and oxidative stress, as they cause tissue damage over time. They are therefore contributors to aging and chronic diseases including inflammatory bowel disease and heart disease. 

  • Lemon Myrtle can brighten our smiles in three ways, lifting our mood in the face of everyday stresses, soothing inflammation and clearing our skin.

Lemon Myrtle and skin conditions

Besides brightening up your morning, what else can it do? It turns out that Lemon Myrtle may be a remedy for Molluscum contagiosum. This is a viral skin infection usually seen in children, which can be difficult to treat. A study on 31 children who had the infection for an average of eight months compared Lemon Myrtle essential oil to an olive oil placebo, to see how effective it could be in three weeks. Nine out of 16 children had at least a 91% drop in the number of skin lesions, while no child who was given olive oil saw the same improvement. 

When your children get older, they may suffer fewer infections, but skin problems such as acne become more common. Even adults – maybe you, too – can have acne, which is frustrating because we expect it to disappear as we grow up. Acne is partly caused by increased levels of sebum, an oily substance the skin uses to protect itself. Too much clogs up your pores, leading to spots. Fortunately, applying Lemon Myrtle extract to your skin may reduce sebum production by one-third, and the number of spots on your face by around one-fifth.

Click here to learn more about Lemon Myrtle and how it can help you.

 

Summary

Lemon Myrtle’s shared phytochemicals with citrus essential oils can make us feel happier, regulate our immune systems and clear persistent viral skin infections, which may otherwise last for months.

Aniseed Myrtle

Aniseed Myrtle is named for its similar aroma to aniseed, as their essential oils both contain over 90% anethole. This gives it a sweet, liquorice-like flavour.

  • Aniseed Myrtle may benefit your lung health through its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, and be a safer alternative to liquorice tea.

Next time you come across Aniseed Myrtle tea, take a deep breath as you enjoy its aroma. High-anethole essential oils may have anti-inflammatory effects on lung tissue, which is useful if you have asthma or live in a polluted area. If you are prone to nasty dry coughs or live in a dry, dusty region, they could help out by increasing mucus production in the airways.

What’s more, high-anethole essential oils could be antimicrobial and antiviral. Star anise oil, which is over 80% anethole, is effective against herpes simplex, the virus responsible for cold sores. If you haven’t had one, they can be very uncomfortable, unattractive and persistent.

Anethole’s antimicrobial effects could also extend to Aspergillus niger and A. flavus, two species of toxic mould. Chronic mould exposure, or infection from breathing it in, can cause breathing difficulties such as a runny nose and wheezing. Even worse, you can get neurological symptoms, including poor balance and coordination. Part of this is caused by immune system dysregulation, a contributing factor to other illnesses including asthma.

If Aniseed Myrtle interests you, read this article to learn more. 

A liquorice substitute

A bonus benefit of Aniseed Myrtle is that it can act as a substitute for liquorice in herbal tea. If you have high blood pressure, you should avoid liquorice because it can worsen the problem. Liquorice increases your levels of sodium while lowering potassium, which raises blood pressure. This is why aniseed is commonly used as a substitute for real liquorice.

 

Summary

Aniseed Myrtle is a sweet, Australian native alternative to liquorice tea that may protect lung and brain health. If you’ve been exposed to mould and now have issues such as trouble walking in a straight line or lower lung capacity, it’s worth a try.

Strawberry Gum  

Strawberry Gum sounds, well, very yum! It is a unique member of the eucalyptus trees, as almost all of its essential oil is made of methyl-cinnamate.

  • Strawberry Gum could turn out to be a hidden gem for weight loss, diabetes prevention and even anti-aging.

This little-known plant may, in fact, be a weight loss tea, but more research (including on humans) must be performed. Methyl-cinnamate has been shown to reduce fatty acid accumulation in the fat cells, which is how you gain body fat. Lab research demonstrates that this effect is caused by acting on genes that regulate metabolism, and may be involved in diabetes prevention too!

One gene that methyl-cinnamate could stimulate is known as AMPK. In recent years, AMPK has won itself more attention thanks to possible anti-aging effects. Increasing AMPK function in people with diabetes is linked to a 15% higher lifespan compared to healthy people who did not have their AMPK gene stimulated, even though diabetes usually shortens life by several years. The overall anti-aging benefits of increasing AMPK are related to a boost in cellular energy production, which supports your heart, muscles, bones, immune system – well, everything! For other weight loss teas you can try, including matcha, oolong and our New Me 28-Day Detox, take a look at this article.  

 

Summary

Strawberry Gum essential oil may boost cellular energy production, benefitting every organ and tissue in your body, and help you avoid gaining body fat.

Gumby Gumby

Traditionally used for colds, eczema, itching, arthritis and more, Gumby Gumby is an increasingly popular herbal remedy in Australia.

  • Gumby Gumby is a newcomer to the world of herbal medicine but shows promise through its antibacterial effects. These may even reduce your risk of chronic inflammatory disorders.

One way that Gumby Gumby may help us out is through an antimicrobial effect. Extracts of the herb and leaf are shown to remove some bacteria, including Staphylococcus epidermis, and the fungal species Candida albicans. Both of these can cause nasty skin infections, particularly if our skin has already been damaged or our immunity is low. In this case, you can mix Gumby Gumby tea or powdered leaves into a skin cream.

Gumby Gumby and chronic illness

Gumby Gumby has antibacterial effects against some species that may contribute to autoimmune disease. Proteus mirabilis is one potential cause of rheumatoid arthritis, and is vulnerable to Gumby Gumby’s antibacterial properties. This terrible disease attacks the joints, leading to pain, swelling and degeneration that later turns into severe disability.

Another, Klebsiella pneumoniae, is a possible trigger for ankylosing spondylitis. The spinal joints are affected here, and the inflammatory response involved can make them fuse together. There was also some antimicrobial effect against A. baylyi, which can contribute to the development of multiple sclerosis. This disease may be the worst of the three, as it damages the brain and commonly leads to paralysis.

  • While you shouldn’t depend on Gumby Gumby alone to prevent autoimmune disease from developing or getting worse, it may be helpful as part of a holistic treatment plan. Check out this article for other anti-inflammatory teas you can use, including ginger and turmeric.

Another potential benefit of Gumby Gumby is the ability to control cell division, preventing inappropriate cell growth. This could have a range of applications, including reducing menstrual flow. Every month, the lining of your womb builds itself up at a rapid pace, but if this is too fast, you can suffer from a heavy period.

 

Summary

A range of microbes, including the bacterial triggers of rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, can be removed by Gumby Gumby, which could explain its traditional use for joint problems.

Cinnamon Myrtle

Like lemon and Aniseed Myrtles, Cinnamon Myrtle is named for its scent, which is a lot like cinnamon! This comes from the presence of methyl-eugenol and elemicin in its essential oil, as they smell like Cinnamon when together.

  • Emerging research suggests that Cinnamon Myrtle could be a resilient source of antioxidants, and a pleasant-smelling antimicrobial.

Cinnamon Myrtle is an unfortunately under-researched Australian native plant, but early studies suggest it could be another powerful antioxidant and antimicrobial. A study comparing Lemon Myrtle to Cinnamon Myrtle found that Cinnamon Myrtle’s antioxidants may be more resilient when fighting oxidative stress. More durable response means that you need lower doses less often.

Additionally, Cinnamon Myrtle has antibacterial effects against a selection of species. In a Brisbane study, its strongest antimicrobial properties were against P. mirabilis, the trigger of rheumatoid arthritis that Gumby Gumby may work against too. Reducing P. mirabilis counts could reduce both your risk of the disease, and severity of already-established illness. Cinnamon Myrtle only had mild effects against E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus, which cause diarrhoea and skin infections, respectively.

 

Summary

Cinnamon Myrtle is a little-known Australian native tree that may have lasting effects on oxidative stress, and have antibacterial effects against species linked to autoimmune disease.

Recipe: Gumby Gumby Chai

If you’d like to try Gumby Gumby but you’re unsure about its peppery, bitter taste, why not use it as a substitute for black pepper in chai? Warm, sweet flavours of cinnamon, ginger and cardamom balance out the bitterness and spicy heat in this recipe. For six servings, use:

  • Six bags or teaspoons of Darjeeling black tea
  • Six cups of water
  • Two cups of milk (dairy or vegan)
  • A five-centimetre piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • Two cinnamon sticks
  • Six cardamom pods
  • Ten cloves
  • Two teaspoons of dried Gumby Gumby leaves
  • Honey or brown sugar, to taste (or leave this out completely)

Mix the ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and Gumby Gumby together in a saucepan and bring the water to a boil. Simmer them for 10 minutes before infusing the black tea for another five minutes, or three if you’d like a lighter flavour. Add the milk, and simmer it all again so it is nice and hot. Strain out the spices, then add your preferred amount of honey or sugar! 

FAQs

What do the Australian native herbal teas taste like?

Most of the teas described above are named after their aromas and flavours. Lemon Myrtle, Aniseed Myrtle, Cinnamon Myrtle and Strawberry Gum each have citrus, anise (or liquorice), Cinnamon and strawberry flavours, respectively. Gumby Gumby is a little different, with a bitter, pepper-like flavour.

Why choose Australian native herbal teas?

When it comes to potential health benefits, Australian herbal teas appear to be powerful antioxidant and antimicrobial remedies. They have evolved to thrive in our harsh environment, which also means that cultivating them can be much easier. Their cultivation right here in Australia makes them more sustainable because they don’t need to travel far. Even better, you’re raising the profile of some very underappreciated herbal teas and cosmetic ingredients!

Is Lemon Myrtle safe for the skin?

Citrus essential oils are often used with caution because they can irritate the skin, and Lemon Myrtle oil shares similar phytochemicals. However, there are Lemon Myrtle soaps, creams and other products commercially available, so it is safe for many people. Test a small amount on your skin first if you have any concerns.

Conclusion

The native Australian herbal teas are becoming more well-known for their health benefits, including antioxidant and antimicrobial support. Their benefits may extend to aiding weight loss, anti-aging properties, preventing autoimmunity and protecting our lungs. In general, they need more human clinical trials, but the results so far look promising.

Have you tried one or more of these herbal teas, such as Lemon Myrtle?

Let us know in the comments how you love to use them! 

Australian native

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