Some Medicine Woman Adventures.
1 & 2. AUSTRALIA.
Australia is one of just a handful of vast and relatively untapped pharmacopias left in the world. For more than 40,000 years the Aboriginal people had an intimate knowledge of Mother Nature’s medicine chest. Rediscovering that knowledge is the first step in Michelle’s journey. She is very much at home in the ancient environment that is Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory.
The first episode, and one close to Michelle’s heart is called the 'Plants for People' program. This is being led by senior Indigenous men and women who are working with researchers from 4 universities to preserve age-old knowledge and understanding about the healing and health-giving properties of Australia's desert plants. They seek to show everyone that traditional knowledge and modern scientific knowledge are equally valuable and can work in harmony. The Indigenous communities are helping the scientists to explore desert plants for possible new medicines to treat conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
3 & 4 INDIA – The Ayurverdic Trail:
Ayurveda, the ancient system of natural medicine practiced in India, is quickly gaining popularity in the west. Since the 1960’s science has been studying the herbs and remedies of Ayurveda and discovered that they work remarkably well and live up to claims made. Michelle travels to southern India to follow a trail of ancient healing that takes her from The Ayurvedic Medical College in Bangalore to Kanniyakumari, right on the southern most tip of India. Along the way she learns of such plants as Gymnema sylvestre, known as the sugar destroyer for its abilities to regulate blood sugar in adult diabetes and Withania – the herbal jewel in the Ayurvedic crown. There are many thousands of other plants to be assessed. She learns of two other ancient medical practices that utilize plant remedies. In other episodes she reveals these ancient practices.
In the jungles along the northern sector of the great Amazon River, Michelle discovers an herb that the Indians have been using for centuries, which will win legions of devotees within the west. It supposedly enhances ones sexual stamina and energy.
When one thinks of the word “kava” one thinks of the powerful beverage fed to unsuspecting holidaymakers when they visit Hawaii. It is not the beverage Michelle is interested in but rather the plant itself and the amazing properties it has. Other Hawaiian plants of interest include “ti” and “awapuhi”.
On the Island of Esperito Santo in the Republic of Vanuatu Michelle comes across Morinda citrifolia or “noni” as it is becoming known. This Pacific Islands fruit is thought to be beneficial as an anti-inflammatory and anticancer agent. Some scientific study has been done on noni and it is accepted as a valuable medicinal plant. Other plants of interest for Michelle include “tamanu”.
As with the other Amazon countries Peru offers The Medicine Woman many opportunities for her work. On the shores of the famed Lake Titicaca, she meets and learns from Grandfather Sinchi - the most famous shaman in all of Peru. Michelle learns of the properties of cat’s claw, maca and coca along with a great number of plants yet to be studied.
On the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca, in the high Andes, Michelle finds the home of an extraordinary group known as the Kallawayas. Revered as healer magicians the Kallawaya are said to be the descendents of the doctors to the ancient Inca Kings and Priests. Today these wise ones carry on in their unbroken lineage of ceremonial therapy.
In Tibet the Medicine Woman meets with and learns from a number of the monks and practitioners of ancient Tibetan medicine. Even here in this ancient kingdom the problem of the extinction and near-extinction of some herbs is made very clear to her and our audience.
12 & 13. CANADA