Kawakawa - what your need to know

Kawakawa - what your need to know

Dean Fountain

Rhayne provides Kawakawa all over the world, it is a versatile herb and one of the most well known and multipurpose Māori medicine, rich in antimicrobial and analgesic properties. Used traditionally to treat cuts, wounds, stomach and rheumatic pain, skin disorders, toothache.

Kawakawa also is used in a number of cosmetic products to help reduce inflammation and aid skin conditions - like eczema and psoriasis.  

The plant found favour with many non-Māori too. "The great virtue contained in the leaves and succulent shoots of the kawakawa shrub is quite sufficient in itself to deal with the most serious bruises and abrasions," wrote surveyor and local historian William Henry Skinner (Pioneer Medical Men of Taranaki, 1933). "A jug or basinful of these leaves steeped with boiling water, and the mixture applied rather hot to the bruise, has great curative powers." although a dark murky colouring and sour tasting may put some off, a number of people mix with a spoonful of honey.

In addition to the other properties it is also a diaphoretic too – it promotes sweating – which is useful for expelling toxins and pathogens via the skin and can help with recovery from colds and flu.


Fun Stuff

Provided by Jane Wrigglesworth from Herb Federation.

Hot Infused Oil
Pick a couple of kawakawa branches and a few handfuls of gotu kola leaves, and leave to wilt overnight to reduce the moisture content. Remove leaves from the stems (discard stems) and chop into small pieces. Place them in the top of a double boiler and cover with cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil so that the leaves are just covered.
Put water in the bottom part of the double boiler, and heat very gently for four hours. Monitor the temperature of the oil with a thermometer – to keep the medicinal qualities intact, it should not rise above 60°C. Stir the oil every now and then.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool. Strain the liquid through a muslin-lined sieve into a large sterilised jar. Squeeze the muslin to extract as much of the oil from the herb as possible. Discard the remaining herb.
Label your jar, and store in a cool, dark place.

To Make the Ointment
You need
• 15g beeswax
• 85ml kawakawa/gotu kola-infused oil 
• 2ml lemongrass essential oil
Melt beeswax in a double boiler. Remove from the heat and add 85ml kawakawa/gotu kola-infused oil. Stir until combined. Allow the mixture to cool slightly (but not harden) then add the lemongrass essential oil. Pour into a sterilised pot or pots. Leave to cool completely then replace lids.

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