Kawakawa - New Zealand's Wonder Herb


What is Kawakawa?

Kawakawa is a shrub that only grows in New Zealand.  Found in lowland forests and along coastal areas throughout the North Island, and the upper half of the South Island it can grow up to 6m tall.  As one the most distinctive native plants It's also thought be one of the most important in Māori medicine for healing or as a medicinal tonic. 

A versatile herb and a member of the pepper family which would explain the peppery taste, it has many health benefits.

Early settlers would infuse dried leaves as a tea for digestive issues, and it was said that burning leaves on the fire would keep mosquitoes away, in fact many campers still use this method today to ward the bugs away. 

"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," William Henry Skinner (Pioneer Medical Men of Taranaki, 1933).

 Cool Brew - Lemongrass, Kawakawa, Lemon Verbena & Ginger Tea

Top Health Benefits 

Kawakawa is unique in the way that it can heal itself. The holes in the leaves are caused by the Kawakawa looper moth only found in New Zealand. The plant creates a compound to repair the damage created by the caterpillars of the moth. This compound contains powerful healing properties, the leaves with holes in are said to hold higher levels of the medicinal properties.  

1) It's bitter and invigorating properties make it excellent for stimulating digestive secretions to assist with the breakdown of food. It is also antispasmodic,(eases muscle spasms or cramps) helping to calm down an irritated or over-full digestive tract. 

2) Good for Kidneys and bladder issues. Traditionally used as detox tonic and can help with circulation assisting cardiovasular disease.  (1)

3) Useful for treating infections with it's antimicrobial and analgesic properties both internally and externally.  Can help reduce inflammation of various skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and rashes when used topically. 

4) Kawakawa leaves being part of the pepper family have been found to contain antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. (2)

5) The berries of Kawakawa are thought to be an aphrodisiac (3)

Side Effects 

Although there have been no recorded adverse affects recorded it was considered safe as a tea in a recent study (4)  Kawakawa does have laxative properties and is mildly sedative. 

Where our Kawakawa is sourced 

We use Kawakawa that is grown and harvested on private land in the North Island of New Zealand from wildcrafted plants. The farmers say a prayer of thanks before harvesting the leaves 

When to drink

Kawakawa on its own has a refreshing peppery taste. It's a great herb to blend. Our Cool Brew is a blend of Kawakawa, Ginger, Lemon Verbana and Lemongrass giving it a smooth lemony flavour with ample body intricately woven with the peppery bite of Kawakawa and vivacious ginger.

Its great as a digestive aid, especially after a large meal.  

1) https://maoriplantuse.landcareresearch.co.nz/WebForms/PeoplePlantsDetails.aspx?firstcome=firstcome&PKey=DF6C4669-4A57-4473-8B3F-CE49593273A2

2) https://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/handle/2292/37630 

3) http://www.temarareo.org/TMR-Kawa.html

4) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30572092