Having just spent a few days in the Hunter Valley amid eucalypts and Australian bush, I am reminded of an amazing meal I had at Matilda on Domain road recently. With flavours of Australia, saltbush, lemon myrtle and admittedly surrounded by luscious lamb and fish, I now find myself devouring Golden Door Health Retreat’s non-alcoholic delicacies such as their signature tea containing licorice root, lemon myrtle, siberian ginseng, red rose petals, sage, mistletoe. It’s a world away from the swanky wine list of South Yarra, yet just as pleasing. As you may know, Skindepth has a medicinal garden that surrounds the clinic full of ginseng, lavender, rosemary, gingo and other such medicinal delicacies. So what exactly are the health benefits of these favourite Australian natives?
Salt bush is a grey blue (and quite beautiful) shrub found in arid, and salty areas. It was once used to treat burns and cuts of the skin, and is now commonly found in culinary arenas. It contains a range of minerals, including calcium and magnesium, antioxidants, Vitamin E and is high in protein. A great seasoner for meat, tofu, or grilled vegetables. Sadly this is not a scrub that that can be grown in a suburban veggie patch, but is a delight to forage for in a seaside bush setting.
Lemon Myrtle contains about 90-98% citral (similar to citrus and hence its antimicrobial effect). It is often found in tea (think ‘lemon and hot water’). It also contains minerals like calcium, zinc which support the immune system and is why it is used to help fend off common colds and viruses. It may also assist in other dermatologic virus such as mollusucm contagiosum (a harmless viral skin infection that appears as small raised spots of the skin). It may also help with tinea infection of the feet when applied topically. Because of its high vitamin A and E content there are reports of it helping with acne also. It is now commonly used in the cosmetic industry to give that tangy citrus vibe to skin and hair care products.
Tea tree is another Australian native that we all know and love and is antibacterial in nature. It is fantastic for acne sufferers to help bacterial acne and to dry up oil glands. While synthetic acne treatments like benzyl peroxide tend to make you scaly and dry or chemical exfoliants can irritate sensitive skin, tea tree, which is natural and gentle on the skin, can work wonders.
I am a big believer in supporting local and incorporating Australian ingredients into your skin, medical or culinary care seems to me a good way to start.
Dr Alice Rudd is passionate about a holistic approach when it comes to skincare, treatments and wellness. When prescribing treatment, it often involves a multi-disciplinary approach of natural products and diet to support skin on both the inside and the outside.