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:
- A handful of fresh (or half a handful of dried) Kūmarahou leaves
- 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.
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.