Centipeda cunninghamii is commonly known as Old man weed, being the literal translation of its Koori name Gukwonderuk. It is a plant known to indigenous Australians for its medicinal properties, and grows along the Murray river, or generally anywhere there is water, especially low lying or swampy areas. It can be identified by its unique shaped leaf, and its pungent scent, which is pine like and minty. The names Common Sneezeweed and Scent Weed, which were given by European settlers, are increasingly falling out of use.
Old Man Weed was commonly used to treat hair loss and skin irritations, but the traditional belief holds that it is good for treating "just about anything". Traditional methods of use most commonly involve binding leaves of the plant directly to the forehead or other parts of the body, so that body heat may release the plants oils which are then absorbed into the skin. It may also be taken orally, sometimes mixing it with emu fat or boiling/soaking it in water to create a tea. In cases of oral ingestion, traditional medicinal authorities have cautioned to carefully regulate the dosage as the plant may be toxic if taken in large amounts.
More recently, the extract of the plant has been patented and is claimed to be effective in the treatment of various skin disorders including the relief of itching and dry skin from psoriasis, as well as having antiinflammatory, antiallergenic, sunscreen and cell renewal properties.
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