NEW ZEALAND NATIVE PLANTS & HERBS
Kawakawa (Macropiper excelsum) is a New Zealand native herb used traditionally for many different ailments. It is an amazingly versatile herb that has so much to offer. Here are some ways that it was traditionally used and also some contemporary conditions it may also assist with.
- Heart tonic - Has been used traditionally to help strengthen the heart and more recently for high blood pressure as well as helping to improve overall circulation due to its fantastic warming properties making it perfect for poor circulation, those suffering from chilblains, etc.
- Blood purifier - Used traditionally to draw toxins from the body.
- Digestive - The warming properties of Kawakawa aid in digestion especially when suffering from indigestion, heartburn, etc.
- Lung restorative - The seeds in particular have a tonic effect on the lungs. Kawakawa has similar uses to its cousin, pippali or long pepper plant used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine.
- Analgesic - Has a mild analgesic effect similar to the Kava plant of Fiji which it is closely related to. Has been used traditionally for tooth ache and more recently for menstrual cramps due also to its anti-spasmodic actions.
- Adaptogen - Helps with a restorative & strengthening action for those people under high levels of physical and emotional stress or suffering from fatigue.
- Diuretic - A mild action to help with fluid retention and traditionally used to support and strengthen kidney function.
- Anti-inflammatory - Traditionally used for rheumatism and arthritic complaints.
- Aphrodisiac - Was used traditionally by older men to renew their youth.
... and these are just some of the main internal benefits one may find with this herb without looking at its topical benefits.
Kumarahou (Pomaderris kumarahou) is an attractive ornamental shrub that has a beautiful yellow flower in late spring. When crushed in the hand and mixed with some water it produces a soapy lather which accounts for its name ‘gumdigger's soap’ giving you some indication of one of the many traditional uses of this remarkable plant.
- Respiratory Tonic - Kumarahou has a high content of saponins which is the ‘slippery’ constituent that made it an ideal soap alternative in the gumfields. It is this same constituent that made it the first choice traditionally when an expectorant was needed to help with clearing the lungs in coughs, colds, bronchitis or any other type of respiratory complaint that required the loosening of mucous to clear the lungs. Traditionally it was also used to treat tuberculosis and as a herb that was thought to strengthen and support the entire respiratory system.
- Blood Purifier - Kumarahou has long been traditionally used as a depurative herb which means it helps support the body to eliminate accumulated waste products and toxins by improving the function of elimination channels such as the liver, kidneys, lymph and bowel. Through this action it may assist in a wide range of conditions that have come about from sluggish metabolism or simply less than ideal lifestyle choices over a period of time.
- Skin Conditions – Kumarahou may often help improve a wide variety of skin complaints. This can be due to many skin conditions being a result of sluggish elimination channels in the body not clearing toxins effectively. Due to its blood purifying and cleansing properties as mentioned above, Kumarahou may help to improve and support the function of these channels.
- Rheumatism and Gout - Traditionally used for both of these conditions with good success. Probably through a combination of its actions as a herb that helps with improving the elimination of toxins from the body and also as an anti-inflammatory.
- Tonic Herb - The very name Tonic Herb suggests a herb that can be taken ongoing as a restorative and strengthener to the whole body. Kumarahou was traditionally used for this very purpose. While having a strong affinity with the respiratory system, it was thought that it has many other ways it works in the body which some of have been mentioned above.
Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) is New Zealand’s most abundant native shrub, in places growing into small trees. Most famous for the honey that is made from the flower and the essential oil that is extracted from the leaf the whole plant has many wonderful properties. While being similar to Australia’s Tea Tree, New Zealand’s Manuka is thought to have stronger anti-microbial properties.
- Natural Antibiotic - One of Manuka’s strongest properties is how it may help with many different types of infections. It was used extensively in traditional use for a wide range of fungal infections from tinea and candida and also many different types of bacterial infections. It may be very effective in helping to combat Staph. aureus bacterial infections which have an increasingly high resistance to many antibiotics used today.
- Coughs and Colds - Not only may it help with the underlying infections which have caused the cold but it also may help as a diaphoretic which helps support sweating to clear the cold from the body.
- Digestive Complaints - Used traditionally as a tea substitute and as a cure for scurvy, Manuka has a strong healing action on the digestive function. It was used for many different types of complaints including diarrhoea, irritable bowel, indigestion and colic.
- Urinary Complaints - Another area where Manuka was used extensively to help with a large number of complaints including bedwetting, incontinence and fluid retention.
Hoheria (Hoheria populnea) is a fast-growing tree that is often compared with the North American Slippery Elm as it shares many of the same properties. While the bark can be used for these properties OKU chooses to use mostly the leaves as a more sustainable and gentler harvesting method with still the same medicinal benefits.
- Digestive and Respiratory Complaints - These are the two key areas of where hoheria has been traditionally used. The leaf contains a high level of what we call mucilage which (when chewed upon, the powdered herb mixed with water or simply taken internally) turns into a slippery substance that is very soothing to the mucous membranes of the digestive and respiratory tract. This action is the key to how hoheria may help with many complaints in these two systems. In the respiratory system it may help with settling coughs and making them more productive and also with soothing sore throats. In the digestive system it may help with upset and irritated digestive systems and heartburn, also with ulcers and even inflamed and spasmodic bowel complaints.