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Kūmarahou decoction

Kūmarahou Decoction

Kūmarahou leaves were traditionally taken internally as a decoction for bronchial complaints and topically for healing skin conditions. Kūmarahou is also said to have a healing effect on the lungs. The flowers of the plant were used as a foaming soap in running water.

Making a decoction is similar to making tea except it is made by simmering plant materials in water for about 10-20 minutes, or in the case of plants like Tanekaha up to several hours. Many decoctions can be taken internally, such as:

  • Tataramoa leaves or young shoots as an evening drink to aid sleep or;
  • Karamu leaves and young shoots as a tea and tonic for thekidneys and to help break down blood;
  • Kohekohe leaves as a bitter tonic to help flush the liver or ease intestinal or unterine cramping

Or topically such as;

  • Tanekaha bark used as a topical antifungal wash in cases of athletes food or fungal infections of the fingernails
  • Koromiko leaves used as a topical wash to ease chaffing
  • Tupakihi leaves as a hot compress to ease aching limbs and joints (Tupakihi is poisonous)

How to make a Kūmarahou decoction:

You’ll need:

  • A handful of fresh (or half a handful of dried) Kūmarahou leaves
  • Water
  • Stainless steel pot
  • Strainer to filter plant material


Prior to harvesting your plant material and again before making your rongoā, offer a quiet karakia to acknowledge Tāne’s gift and the prupose for which it was harvested.

Cover your Kūmarahou leaves with cold water (about 1.5 litres) in a stainless steel pot. Bring this to the boil and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and strain plant material from the water using a clean cloth or muslin. This water is your decoction. Once the liquid has cooled you can store your decoction in the fridge until needed. Return the spent plant material/leaves to Papatuanuku. Never discard your used leaves in the rubbish.

To Use:

Mix half a cup of cold decoction with half a cup of warm water. Drink 2-3 cups each day. The taste will improve as you get used to the initial kawa bite of the first mouthful.