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Nestled within the grand tapestry of tradition, one discovers the venerable art of Māori medicine—a kind of ancient alchemy that has withstood the sands of time with a patu in hand progressing into an iphone. Steeped in the sagacity of the indigenous Māori, this holistic approach to well-being weaves together the threads of the corporeal, spiritual, and cultural in a manner akin to the methods of boil up.
From the crystal girl vibes of rongoā rākau (traditional herbal remedies) to therapeutic practices profoundly in tune with the land; Māori medicine unravels a philosophical conversation where nature, spirituality, and the elegance of healing come together for a kai. Let’s Pull back the curtain on the ancient rites, the timeless melodies, and the elixirs that have elegantly cradled this esteemed healing heritage throughout the annals of yore.
Kumarahou was always this strange looking plant that never stuck in my mind in the same way pōhutukawa would, or a kōwhai tree, at least until the day my teacher told me it was practically soap. It started with a pūrākau about our ancestors who would take the Kūmarahou and its small flower buds to the nearest awa in which they would rub the buds in between their hands in the water as froth and foam would start to form. At age 12 I was absolutely flabbergasted at the thought of this. And with the curiosity of a 12 year old I also managed to haul back home a handful of kumarahou branches. And as a 12 year old would be, I was surprised by the success of my attempts with the kūmarahou.
Of course this experience birthed many more for me as a young Māori surrounded by unsettled knowledge. I just had to agitate the waters of tradition encompassing me and learn more.
I came to find there is a lot one can do with native plant leaves and a kettle so behold my brief intermission on marae style tea (and not the lipton kind)
To start, most commonly heard of, kawakawa. All the Māori girlies have heard of kawakawa tea, whether they were brave enough to try it or not, or whether they were among the unfortunate souls who were forced sips of this delicacy, Kawakawa tea is the OG paracetamol and water.
Despite kūmarahou basically being my rongoā origin story of nature’s soap, if you boil it down enough, it just might cure your arthritis or vape scarred lungs, maybe..
For all the baddies out there, we know full well that only hot girls get constipated, so steeped koromiko can evict that poop better than you did your ex-boyfriend.
Mānuka or Kānuka have a throat healing effect when boiled and will fix you up for kapaz when you start to lose your voice.
End of intermission.
Setting aside teas, poultices, oils and gels were commonly refined from natures grocery store items. With te-wao-nui-a-tāne taking the place of modern day pharmacy, a lot can be done with what you have and see. With harakeke gel used as a bruise cream, mamaku poultice grinded to a paste to soothe skin damage, and kanuka oils extracted and applied to dry areas, Māori medicine arises and dominates the sick bay and skincare nation.
As we wrap up our stroll through the ngahere nui of Māori medicine, we stand on the brink of enlightenment—or at least a laugh. Because who needs modern medicine with its fancy labs and clinical trials when you’ve got ancient herbal remedies that have stood the test of time?
Māori medicine, a mix of “brewed in nature” and “approved by ancestors,” gives us a glimpse into a world where leaf water was the original iced matcha latte and tank smoothies were so last century. Who needs a doctor when you can just consult the wisdom of random shrubs, right?
In my journey, we’ve learned that if a leaf falls and no one is there to hear it, it probably has medicinal properties. Oh, and don’t forget, rubbing fern fronds on your skin is the new skincare routine. Move over, fancy Ordinary serums and Neutrogena wrinkle cream.
Let’s raise our metaphorical glasses of herbal tea (brewed to perfection, of course) and toast to a world where a well-placed leaf can heal all ailments. Cheers to the leaves, the ferns, and the skeptics who still think penicillin is a good idea.
(Always exercise caution and consult with a healthcare professional before using any traditional or herbal remedies, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are pregnant/nursing)
1. Kawakawa Infusion (Kawakawa Tea):
– Kawakawa leaves (Piper excelsum)
1. Boil water and pour it over the Kawakawa leaves in a cup or teapot.
2. Allow the leaves to steep for about 10-15 minutes to extract the medicinal properties.
3. Strain the leaves and drink the infusion. Kawakawa is known for its anti-inflammatory and digestive properties.
2. Mamaku Gel:
– Mamaku fern fronds (Cyathea medullaris)
1. Collect fresh or dried Mamaku fern fronds.
2. Crush or grind the fronds to form a gel-like consistency.
3. Apply the gel to the skin for skin-soothing and healing properties.
3. Kanuka Oil:
– Kanuka leaves (Kunzea ericoides)
– Carrier oil (e.g., sweet almond oil, olive oil)
1. Infuse dried or fresh Kanuka leaves in a carrier oil of your choice for several weeks.
2. Strain the leaves from the oil, creating Kanuka-infused oil.
3. Use the infused oil topically for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
4. Harakeke Poultice:
– Harakeke leaves (Phormium tenax)
1. Crush or soften Harakeke leaves to create a poultice.
2. Apply the poultice to wounds or skin irritations for its healing and antiseptic properties.
5. Mānuka Honey Syrup:
– Mānuka honey (Leptospermum scoparium)
– Warm water
1. Mix a spoonful of Mānuka honey with warm water to create a soothing syrup.
2. Consume this syrup for benefits related to sore throats and digestive issues.