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Aboriginal chemistry research Paper

Words: 1502, Paragraphs: 127, Pages: 6

Paper type: Essay , Subject: Chemistry

Name: CHEAN KER XIN

Research Topic: Knowledge and use of acid/base properties of food and materials by

Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islanders Peoples

It is estimated that there are up to 5000 native food species which is utilised by the

Aboriginal people in Australia. Most of the native food species are unsafe to be eaten raw, thus

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the Aboriginal people have their own techniques to remove the toxins in the food. They also used

native food species to cure a disease and determine the pH of soil. ?[6 ]

Custodial Aboriginal ‘ownership’ of Plants and Land

As part of the complex cultural underpinning the Aboriginal society, there are Aboriginal

custodians who have particular roles and responsibilities for culturally important plant species in

relation to land and its resources. In central Australia, most harvesting of bush foods is done on

Aboriginal freehold lands that are held by trust groups under the ?Aboriginal Land Rights

(Northern Territory) Act 1976 ?. The Aboriginal people have their local protocols in determining

the proper way to harvest and prevent damage to plants when harvesting. If they do not harvest

according to the local protocols or inappropriate use of culturally powerful plant species, they

will get punishment within the traditional Aboriginal society. Since the custodians have their

own custodial responsibilities and local protocols, terms such as ‘custodians’ and ‘native title

holders’ are used in a different cultural and legal context like the ?Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) ?.

There are some species that can only be picked the Aboriginal people and cannot be sold such as

the ?Canthium attenuatum. ? ?[3 ]

Protection for Aboriginal Rights to Biodiversity, Plants and Ecological Knowledge Within

National and International Laws and Conventions

In Australia, formal intellectual property laws offer limited avenues for protection of

Aboriginal Indigenous Ecological Knowledge(IEK), Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander

customary laws or custodial rights to the native plants such as ?The Copyright Act 1968, The

Trade Marks Act 1995, Patents Act 1990 and Patents Regulations 1991, ? and the Plant Breeder’s

Rights Act 1994. This is because in most cases these laws have no provisions to accommodate

Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander ownership and collective ownership of knowledge or

resources. ? [ 3 ]

Janke who is a lawyer in Australia suggests that ?sui generis ? (unique) laws such as the

Pacific Model Law might offer the strongest support for the Aboriginal cultural and intellectual

property rights. This is because they recognise the unique nature of the Aboriginal people and

cultures at which the Aboriginal people had their own method to cure a disease by using the

native plant without the help of advanced technologies. Even though the parts of native plants

they used to treat diseases are poisonous, they have techniques to remove the toxins in the parts

of the plants. ?[3 ]

Neutralization of stingray stings with plant saps

The stingray stings or venom are slightly acidic which is around pH 6.6. A bush medicine that

used to treat the stingray stings is the Hop Bush ( ?Dodonaea Viscosa ?) at which the juice of the

plant contains alkaloids in it. The alkaline juice of ?Dodonaea Viscosa ? will neutralise the acidic

stingray stings and heal the wounds stung by the stingrays. Hence, the Aboriginal people put the

chewed leaves or juice of ?Dodonaea Viscosa ?on the stingray stings wound and bound up for four

to five days to cure the wound. ?[1 ] [ 1 1]

?[1 0]

The diagrams above show the flowers and fruits of the Hop Bush ( ?Dodonaea Viscosa ?)

Comparing native fruit acid levels against ripeness

The fruit of the Kangaroo Apple ( ?Solanum laciniatum ?) is bright green in colour if unripe and

yellow-orange colour when it is ripe. Unripened fruit of kangaroo apple cannot be eaten as it is

poisonous and bitter which means that it is alkaline. However, the ripe fruit of kangaroo apple is

sickly sweet but often bitter. The kangaroo apple fruits will turn sweet when it is ripe is due to

the accumulation of acid in the fruits that will neutralize the alkalinity of the unripe fruits. The

reason that the ripe fruit of kangaroo apple is often bitter is that the unpleasant acidity of the

fruits will be lost once the fruits have fallen from kangaroo apple plant. ? [ 1 4][1 8][1 9]

[2 0]

The diagram above shows the fruit of the Kangaroo Apple ( ?Solanum laciniatum ?)

How does the acidity of bush tucker makes it very useful

Cocky Apple ( ?Planchonia careya ?) has a variety of uses. The Indigenous Australians used its

bark and leaves in medication. They crushed the leaves into liquid form and applied on the

wounds to prevent the infection of bacteria from the atmosphere. This is due to the juice from the

crushed leaves contains fatty acid in it that helps to kill some bacteria from entering the human

body through the skin as the bacteria are sensitive towards the both acidic and alkaline

environment. The bark and leaves were also crushed and used to cure sores and ulcers because

the juice in the crushed bark and leaves contain antibacterial compounds in it which is the fatty

acids. Besides, the Aboriginal people who lived at Cleveland Bay was stated that they used the

bark and roots of the Cocky Apple as a fish poison to stun fish. The fatty acids in the bark and

roots of the Cocky Apple will cause the fish to decrease appetite. It reduces the dietary or

nutritional levels of the fish when the oxidized fatty acid reacts with the nutrients in the fish

body. The oxidized products may be toxic to the fish body too. However, this ‘fish poison’ will

not kill the fish. ?[7 ][9 ][1 3][1 7]

[1 7]

? [1 6]

The diagrams above show the Cocky Apple ( ?Planchonia careya ?) plant, flower and leaves

Neutralization of stomach acid with clays

Clay is a soil that has a pH range at 5.5 to 7.0 which is alkaline soil. Some types of clay are able

to deactivate toxins within the stomach prior to being poisoning our body. Thus, some animals

can tolerate the poisonous plant by consuming a small amount of clay within their diet.

Incredibly, ancient Aboriginal people also began to understand this ingenious mechanism at

which they eat small balls of white clay to cure acidic gastrointestinal toxins produced by

infection. ? [ 2 ][1 5][2 3]

Vitamin levels in native Australian fruits and when it is compared to Australian farmed

oranges and lemons.

Kakadu plum ( ?Terminalia ferdinandiana ?) is the native fruit from woodlands of the

Northern Territory and Western Australian. It is the world’s richest source of Vitamin C

(ascorbic acid). It was a major source of food for the tribes or Aboriginal people that lived near

the areas where the Kakadu plum trees grow. The Kakadu plum is usually eaten raw and even

make into jam. The Aboriginal used the Kakadu plum as bush tucker and traditional medicine as

it contains a high concentration of VitaminC. When the Vitamin C level in Kakadu plum is

compared to that in the Australian farmed oranges, the plum has 50 times the Vitamin C of

oranges. ?[2 2][2 3]

[2 1]

The diagram above shows the Kakadu plum ( ?Terminalia ferdinandiana ?)

Identification of soil pH levels by using flower colour

Hydrangea macrophylla is the plant that its flower colour will change in response to the changes

in soil pH. The hydrangea flowers are blue in acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 or lower while pink if

soil pH is 7 or higher. The flowers will be a shade between pink and blue if the soil pH is

between 5.5 and 7. The reason that causes the hydrangea flowers to change colour depending on

the soil pH is that the soil pH affects the availability of soil elements which is aluminium. Acidic

soil frees aluminium from its compounds, making this element available to the plant. When the

hydrangea takes up aluminium, its flowers turn blue. As soil becomes less acidic, available

aluminium in the soil that can be taken up by the plant is reduced and the flowers of hydrangea

turn pink. ?[2 4]

[1 2]

The diagram above shows the pink and blue hydrangea flowers

References

1. (PDF) A review on Dodonaea viscosa: A potential medicinal plant. (2016, January 1).

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A_potential_medicinal_plant

2. Aboriginal bush medicine heals body and soul. (2007, September 3). Retrieved from

ne-heals-body-and-soul-idUSSYD26920420070903

3. Aboriginal people, bush foods knowledge and products. (2011). Retrieved from

s

4. Aboriginal plant use and technology. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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5. Aboriginal plants. (2018, February 8). Retrieved from

arden-Clayton-Campus

6. About Native Australian food. (2008, July 1). Retrieved from

7. Antibacterial compounds from Planchonia careya leaf extracts. (n.d.). Retrieved from

a_leaf_extracts

8. Bush medicine: Aboriginal remedies for common ills. (2018, September 2). Retrieved

from

aboriginal-remedies-for-common-ills/

9. Chapter 4. Lipids and Fatty Acids. (n.d.). Retrieved from

%20fish

10. Dodonaea viscosa. (2019, July 27). Retrieved from

11. Gott, B. (2018, June 4). The art of healing: five medicinal plants used by Aboriginal

Australians. Retrieved from

ustralians-97249

12. Hydrangea ?. (n.d.). Retrieved from

13. immune system | Description, Function, & Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved from

14. Kangaroo Apple. (n.d.). Retrieved from

15. pH for the Garden. (n.d.). Retrieved from

16. planchonia careya (cocky apple) Search. (n.d.). Retrieved from

e=univ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj0oqPToNXjAhVKKY8KHXitCHMQiR56BAgKEBA&

biw=1517&bih=730#imgrc=SFYLfLs1uRlABM:

17. Planchonia careya. (2019, July 8). Retrieved from

18. Ripening. (2003, November 10). Retrieved from

19. Solanum laciniatum Kangaroo Apple, New Zealand nightshade PFAF Plant Database.

(n.d.). Retrieved from

20. Solanum laciniatum. (2015, December 24). Retrieved from

21. Terminalia ferdinandiana (Kakadu plum/Billy goat plum) — Territory Native Plants.

(n.d.). Retrieved from

t-plum

22. Terminalia ferdinandiana. (2019, June 22). Retrieved from

23. Top 10 Aboriginal bush medicines. (2018, September 2). Retrieved from

al-bush-medicines/

24. Chemistry Lecture Notes (Module 5)

About the author

This academic paper is crafted by Mia. She is a nursing student studying at the University of New Hampshire. All the content of this sample reflects her knowledge and personal opinion on Aboriginal chemistry research and can be used only as a source of ideas for writing.

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