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The use of Maori Rongoa to make your own digestive tonic

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

How many times do we wander the bush admiring plants and flowers that we suspect have healing properties but do not really know much about them?

In New Zealand, the use of Rongoa (native plant extracts and preparations) is a key element of traditional healing. With this greater enthusiasm for the use of Rongoa, there has been a rekindled interest in determining its effectiveness.

This is something that we can experiment for ourselves, as we come into contact with these plants walking along the bush line. There are some plants which we can easily identify and turn into simple effective remedies for ailments that occasionally crop up for us. Just gather some leaves and bring them home to make into teas for their medicinal properties.

Their preparations are very simple: For example..

One of the most commonly found and easily identified plant is Kawa Kawa. (Pepper tree) Scientific Name: Macropiper excelsum Flowers: Yellow forming into green berries. Kawakawa thrives in the Aotea climate and is readily available all year round. It is usually the first and easiest plant to identify when learning about Rongoa Maori as it grows in low lying areas as opposed to the dense bush. Slightly sour to the taste it will take a little getting used to at first but this is typical with any herb that acts as a liver or digestive tonic.

Kawakawa has both external and internal medicinal uses and you can bathe in it as well as drink it. If you find yourself with a toothache in the bush, try chewing on the leaves. Drinking the juice purifies blood, helps alleviate digestive complaints, chest troubles, constipation, high/low blood pressure and asthma. The leaves and bark can be applied as a decoction for wounds, ulcers, skin diseases, eye inflammation, scalds, burns.

The following steps describe how to prepare KAWA KAWA for medicinal purposes: -1- Gather the kawakawa leaves. Leaves which face the east with full sun are the best (ie pick where the sun shines on the leaves the longest). Pick as many leaves as you can. If bugs are eating the leaves it is a good indication that the plant is even better and has a higher medicinal value. These leaves are more preferable to use. -2- Rinse the leaves clean. -3- Half fill your pot and bring to the boil before adding the kawakawa leaves. Once the leaves are in, boil for 15 minutes with the lid on. Let the pot stand to cool. -4- Remove and strain all the kawakawa leaves. -5- Strain the liquid into a jug for pouring. -6-

Pour the kawakawa juice into clean bottles and seal.

Cheers and good health to you


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