Herb of the month – June
Kawakawa – Macropiper excelsum
This precious native from the Piperaceae family has heart shaped leaves is an important taonga in Aotearoa. It has many uses traditionally both internally and externally due to its healing actions which include anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and astringent. For topical ailments, kawakawa is known to be used traditionally to aid toothache, cuts, wounds, boils, disorders of the skin and bruises. Kawakawa is beneficial for the digestive system and its carminative and spasmolytic actions make it an excellent digestive tonic. The orange berries are edible when ripe and make a delicious peppery snack, best covered in dark chocolate! The leaves covered in holes are the best to use as they are highest in medicinal plant chemicals. These holes are made by the endemic looper caterpillar, kawakawa is the preferred choice of food for these critters. We are lucky in Aotearoa to have access to a plethora of healing rākau but care must be taken to practice appropriate tikanga when harvesting and preparing the rongoā.
Please seek the advice of a qualified naturopath before taking herbal medicine.
By Naturopathy tutor Patrice Kelly
Find out more about studying for your Bachelor of Naturopathic and Herbal Medicine