Kawakawa has been used in traditional medicine by Maori for hundreds of years (Rongoa Maori). In recent times there have been scientific studies that prove that Kawakawa has anti-inflammatory activity that help a variety of conditions. Consequently, the medicinal uses of kawakawa by Māori in rongoā are supported by the anti-inflammatory activity observed. This study provides novel scientific evidence to support the cultural practice of Māori. (Ryan 2014).
Kawakawa is a common plant found throughout New Zealand in lowland forest. It is distinctive because of its heart shaped leaves, often riddled with holes from insect damage.
It has been recorded as being used internally to tone the kidneys (as a hot tea), and help with stomach problems. Externally it was used for cuts, wounds, boils, abscesses, and nettle stings. It was also used for Arthritis and other aches and pains, including toothache. When Kawakawa is thrown on a campfire and burned, it reputedly kept mosquitoes away.
Historically, medicinal uses were observed in early New Zealand. Early settlers to NZ recorded Kawakawa applied to neuralgic affections, the leaves and fruit were chewed for toothache. Pulped leaves were applied to swollen faces, and to rheumatism. Decoction of young leaves, twigs were taken for stomach pains. Also taken for several days for gonorrhoea. Leaf and bark used for cuts and wounds. It was observed that Kawakawa helped skin disorders, and to heal cuts and wounds. Other observations in the 1800 to 1940s were: cure of boils, dressings for bad wounds, intestinal worms, bladder complaints, scabies, eczema, venereal disease, serious bruises.
In a footnote, Skinner (1888) says 'From my own experience this elaborate mixture ... is quite unnecessary. 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. A jug or basinful of these leaves steeped with boiling water, and the mixture applied rather hot to the bruise, has great curative powers.'
Oriwa Naturals pick fresh Kawakawa leaves from sunny Marlborough and infuse these leaves into an Extra Virgin Olive Oil with a high Polyphenol content at 10% Kawakawa Leaf by weight.
The Polyphenols in the Extra Virgin Olive Oil are naturally occurring compounds found in plant based foods and work as antioxidants. This means they neutralise free radicals that potentially damage the body’s cells. Studies show that polyphenols also fight inflammation. The plant polyphenols possess anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, anti-oxidant properties and DNA repair activities, and that can be used for the prevention of variety of skin disorders caused by excessive exposure to solar UV light.
Olive Oil contains at least 30 different phenolic compounds including oleacein, tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol. By definition, high phenolic oil contains at least 250mg polyphenols per kg of oil. The EVOO that Oriwa Naturals use is 298 per kg of oil.
The combination of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and infused Kawakawa leaf makes a great healing oil and we use this in our Nurture - Kawakawa Skin Soother, and our Spa Escape Kawakawa Body Oil.