The pituri learning circle: central Australian Aboriginal women's knowledge and practices around the use of Nicotania app. as chewing tobacco

Ratsch, Angela, Mason, Andrea, Rive, Linda, Bogossian, Fiona and Steadman, Kathryn (2017) The pituri learning circle: central Australian Aboriginal women's knowledge and practices around the use of Nicotania app. as chewing tobacco. Rural and Remote Health, .

Author Ratsch, Angela
Mason, Andrea
Rive, Linda
Bogossian, Fiona
Steadman, Kathryn
Title The pituri learning circle: central Australian Aboriginal women's knowledge and practices around the use of Nicotania app. as chewing tobacco
Journal name Rural and Remote Health   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1445-6354
Publication date 2017-02-13
Sub-type Article (original research)
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Place of publication Deakin West, ACT Australia
Publisher Australian Rural Health Education Network
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Introduction: Tobacco smoking has a range of known and predictable adverse outcomes, and across the world sustained smoking reduction campaigns are targeted toward reducing individual and public risk and harm. Conversely, more than 87 million women, mostly in low and middle income countries, use smokeless tobacco, yet the research examining the
effect of this form of tobacco exposure on women is remarkably scant. In central Australia, the chewing of wild Nicotiana spp., a tobacco plant, commonly known as pituri and mingkulpa, is practiced by Aboriginal groups across a broad geographical area. Until recently there had been no health research conducted on the effects of chewing pituri.

Methods: This paper reports on one component of a multidimensional pituri research agenda. A narrative approach utilising the methodology of the Learning Circle was used to interview three key senior central Australian Aboriginal Anangu women
representative of three large geographical language groupings. The participants were selected by a regional Aboriginal women’s organisation. With the assistance of interpreters, a semi-structured interview, and specific trigger resources, participant’s provided responses to enable an understanding of the women’s ethnobotanical pituri knowledge and practices around the use of pituri within the context of Aboriginal women’s lives. Data was transcribed, and using a constant comparison analysis, emergent themes were categorised. The draft findings and manuscript were translated into the participants language and
validated by the participants

Results: Three themes around pituri emerged: a) the plants, preparation and use; b) individual health and wellbeing; and c) family and community connectedness. The findings demonstrated similar participant ethnobotanical knowledge and practices
across the geographical area. The participants clearly articulated the ethnopharmacological knowledge associated with mixing pituri with wood ash to facilitate the extraction of nicotine from Nicotiana spp.; the results of which were biochemically verified. The participants catalogued the pleasurable and desired effects obtained from pituri use, the miscellaneous uses of pituri, as
well the adverse effects from pituri overdose and toxicity, the catalogue of which matched those of nicotine. The participants overarching pituri theme was related to the inherent role pituri has in the connectiveness of people to family, friends and
community.

Conclusions: Central Australian Aboriginal women have a firmly established knowledge and understanding of the pharmacological principles related to the content of Nicotiana spp. and the extraction of nicotine from the plant. Widespread
use of Nicotiana spp. as a chewing tobacco by Aboriginal populations in the southern, central and western desert regions of Australia is attested to by participants who assert that everyone uses it, with girls in these remote areas commencing use
between 5-7 years of age. Central Australian Aboriginal people who chew Nicotiana spp. do not consider it to be a tobacco plant, and will strongly refute that they are tobacco users. Central Australian Aboriginal people do not consider that
the Western health information regarding tobacco (as a smoked product) is applicable or aligned to their use of pituri. Nicotiana spp. users will deny tobacco use at health assessment. There is a requirement to develop and provide health information on a broader range of tobacco and nicotine products in ways that are considered credible by the Aboriginal population. Health
messages around pituri use need to account for the dominant role that pituri occupies in the context of central Australian Aboriginal women’s lives.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Unknown

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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Created: Tue, 18 Apr 2017, 07:46:07 EST by Dr Fiona Bogossian on behalf of School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work