Kawakawa

Macropiper exelsum

Edible Uses

The leaves of this plant are used to make Titoki Liqueur which is exported to Japan, Australia, Fiji and the United Kingdom. The seeds of this plant could be used as culinary spice. Kawakawa can be used as a beverage such as tea: Gather and rinse the leaves. Half fill your pot and bring to the boil before adding the kawakawa leaves. Once the leaves are in boil for 15 minutes with the lid on. Let the pot stand to cool. Remove and strain out all the kawakawa leaves. Pour the kawakawa juice into clean bottles and seal. Use as required.

Medicinal Uses

When applied directly to the skin the crushed leaves can be used to heal minor cuts and wounds. To treat boils the crushed leaves are heated to tenderise the oil that they contain, then the oil is put over the affected areas. The pulp made from crushing the leaves can be administered to the skin to combat such ailments as sore joints, bruises, and minor skin diseases. When taken internally the crushed leave mixture treats colds, kidney-related disorders, and is also a cleansing agent in that it acts as blood purifiers.

Leaves as a tea: bladder problems, blood purifier, boils (also as topical), bruises, colds, diuretic, eczema (also as topical), gonorrhoea (also as topical), to stimulate the kidneys, paipai (skin affection), stomach pains, tonic, toothache (also chewed); as topical: rheumatic pain, swollen face. The fruit is used as diuretic, and in the toothache as tea or chewed; the roots in the toothache as tea or chewed; the whole plant as aphrodisiac and stimulant.

Reports of Maori usage go back as far as 1860's when it was noted that an infusion of the leaves was used to cure toothache. The most prevalent method of usage being a decoction of the leaves made into a tea and then drunk to treat many different health problems, and sometimes the bark of the tree was boiled along with the leaves and used both internally and externally as well. The roots were sometimes boiled and the liquid applied with ripe fruit directly onto sore teeth. The leaves of the Maori Kava were also used in making steam baths, or heated over a fire to extract their oil, which was then applied on boils, or their juice was extracted by roasting and used as wound dressing. There is also mention of its usage as a tonic.

An infusion is made from the leaves or roots, and used for bladder problems, boils, bruises, to relieve pain or toothache, or as a general tonic. The sweet yellow berries (most often found in summer on female trees) of the plant were eaten as a diuretic.

The pepper of kawa-kawa excited the kidneys and bowels. A decoction of the leaves is still used in the treatment of boils and for kidney troubles. Kawakawa was also used to treat gonorrhoea, and to relieve toothaches or a swollen face, by chewing the leaves. Caution: Analgesic, Sedative, mildy euphoriant.

Several medical studies has shown the relaxing effect of Kava on moderate to severe anxiety without altering the mental alertness.
Kava has strong analgesic properties used to relieve toothache.

It is both an external and internal remedy – you can bathe in it and drink it as well. If you are to drink it, it's recommended ½ cup three times a day although variable depending on your needs.

Chewing on the leaves helps to alleviate toothaches. Drinking the juice purifies blood, helps alleviate digestive complaints, chest troubles, constipation, high/low blood pressure and asthma. Leaves and bark can be applied as a decoction for wounds, ulcers, skin diseases, eye inflammation, scalds, burns.

The bitter root was used for urinary complaints. Leaves and bark were used as cures for cuts, wounds, and pains in the stomach. Steam baths from the leaves and bark of kawakawa were used as stimulants for salivary glands, the kidneys, and the bowels. It was used as an aphrodisiac. The ripe fruit and the liquid from boiled roots were applied to teeth to ease toothache. A decoction of the leaves was also drunk for boils.

Other Uses

Green leaves and branches were gathered by Maori and laid in rows in the plantations of kumara, between the beds, and then burnt so that insects which injured the growing plants might be destroyed by the disagreeable bitter smoke.