In September for Te Wiki o Te Reo Maori (Maori language week) I did a post on New Zealand native remedies. I wrote about four, and then I had a number of people point out other remedies that I had missed and didn’t even know about! So this is the follow up, with a few more remedies.
If you missed the first post you can find it here.
First of all I want to start with the oldest New Zealand homeopathic remedy: Puka puka. It is found in many of the old books, as this was proved in 1878 by Dr L.C. Fischer on himself. I could find no other provers, but there were notes of the effect on horses who eat the young shrubs, and lose control over their hind legs with symptoms of weakness and flesh wasting.(1) Because it has been in our books for so long, there are a number of published cases also which has expanded my understanding of this small remedy.
Pukapuka is also called Rangiora and is known as bushman’s friend- the one you look for if you forgot to take toilet paper into the bush, as it has a soft white underside.
It’s poisonous effect was noted in a 1923 article from the NZ Journal of Agriculture, The Poisonous, Suspected, and Medicinal Plants of New Zealand by B. C. Aston, which mentioned not only the drunkenness in horses, but also the death of calves from consuming it and that the honey was dangerous for humans to consume.(2)
Pukapuka of Rangiora is from the Asteraceae or daisy (like Arnica) and has the largest leaves of all the daisies. It is classified as part of the Eupatorieae family, like the remedy Eupatorium perfoliatum. Historical sources say it was used for old, ulcerated wounds, but I was unable to find any more recent sources for its use in Rongoā rakau.
Homeopathically, it was considered a treatment for Bright’s disease – what we now call Acute Glomerular Nephritis, which is inflammation in the kidneys, usually with hypertension and albumin in the urine. The associated symptoms are soreness and pressure in the neck of the bladder, pain when urinating with a feeling they cannot hold onto urine. They may have pain in the bowels before urination and urine will be copious but contain albumin or mucus. (1)
It can also a remedy for rheumatic symptoms, with some of the symptoms seen in the poisonings of horses, of weakness in the limbs with a lot of fatigue, and Boericke also states the fingers and thumb can cramp when writing with pain extending through the wrist and up the arm.(3)
Generally pains are throbbing, and this can be seen with headaches with pain moving around the head, or throbbing in the right ear. The ears may tingle or itch, there may be throbbing toothache or twitching in the face. (1)
Brachglottis also has constipation with hard stools, and ineffectual urging. (4)
The proving only had irritability for the mental emotional symptoms, but more recent use, and analysis of the plant family and using Scholten’s work yields a few more symptoms. Brachyglottis has problems with a strong masculine authority figure. Sometimes they can stand I’ll against it, but at other times are beaten down, and will show their sensitivity and vulnerability by collapsing in tears. (5)
The work of Ulrich Welte also showed a strong colour preference for 23C, a yellow-green colour, and one article online showed this preference in 6 out of 7 cases. (5)
Pōhutukawa was proved in 2011 at the South Pacific College of Natural Therapies. It is also written about in Wonderful Plants by Jan Scholten, and Plants: Homeopathic and Medicinal Uses from a Botanical Family Perspective by Frans Vermeulen and Linda Johnston, under the latin name Metrosideros excelsa. Finding the proving document was magic, because the next week I had a client who could benefit a lot from Pohutukawa. Still waiting to hear the results, but I loved the synchronicity of this.
Pohutukawa is a remedy for love and change. Robert van der Touw writes in his book that its gifts are strength and endurance in times of change and movement. That it provides protection and safe harbour, allowing transformation and development of wisdom. (6)
In the proving there were strong themes of love, in relationships as well as family and friends. There was a need to feel safe and supported, and provers also felt more assertive and able to stand up for themselves while taking the remedy. For others they were irritable, lacked energy and motivation, and had trouble with concentration and their ability to study. This did not affect their creativity, instead there was a desire to draw, and an attraction to bright colours – whether decor, clothes or makeup. It was also very important for provers to keep the house clean – they were irritated by things around the house and wanted to clear the clutter.(7)
Physically, there could be headaches, particularly in the temples and more often left sided with a pressing, squeezing or aching sensation.
The eyes can be affected with itchiness, dullness or aching, twitching or photophobia. The mouth may be dry, with numbness and tingling, and the throat scratchy, raw, dry with a desire to drink water, but the relief does not last. (7)
Pōhutukawa prefers sweet food to savoury, wanting something too sweet to eat after a meal. They may have a craving for coffee and a thirst for water with a dry mouth.
They may have stabbing pains in the abdomen, and be constipated with a reduced frequency of bowel motions, or the feeling they want to go, but can’t. (7)
There could also be lower back pain, either aching or tingling and worse for moving, or with a dragging and pulling sensation. Sensations all over the body could be prickling, or there may even be formication – the sensation of insects crawling over the arm, hand or foot. Sleep may also be a problem with difficulty falling asleep or multiple wakings through the night. (7)
The third remedy that was mentioned was Koromiko, which is available in a 2x from Weleda. I contacted Weleda for Materia Medica about this remedy, but they did not reply. This potency is extremely low – closer to herbal tinctures, and used more commonly in homotoxicology or anthroposophical medicine than classical Homeopathy. As such, the remedy will have the same effect as a Rongoā rakau or herbal tincture:
Koromiko leaves can be chewed for diarrhoea – dried leaves were even sent to soldiers in World War II to treat dysentery. It is also used as a poultice for ulcers and sores, and the boiled water from Koromiko is astringent and may be useful as a toner after cleansing to close the pores. (8)
I recommend reading this blog from Joanne Hakaraia of Rongoā Mauri, as she beautifully describes the effect of Koromiko physically, and the effect on the Wairua of spirit: https://www.rongoamauri.com/amp/rongoā-of-the-month-koromiko
Given her description as the light in the darkest tunnel, it would be interesting to see what effect this remedy would have if potentised up to a level consistent with homeopathy, where we more clearly see effects on the emotional and spiritual level.
I have also remembered another remedy, that Leigh Marsh first mentioned to me: Ongaonga or Urtica Ferox, which is a tree nettle, and is available from Simillimum in a 6c or 12c potency.
Again, this does not appear to have a proving, and 6c and 12c are low homeopathic potencies, commonly used for physical complaints or organ support. What we do have for Utica Ferox is toxicology reports from accidental poisonings – and these reports have always been used to extend our Materia Medica.
Ongaonga is a large shrub that grows in thickets, and the leaves have stinging hairs up to 6mm long which are hollow, break off in the skin and inject the toxin.(9)
It is a potent neurotoxin, and causes weakness, numbness and tingling in the extremities. It can also cause blurred vision, severe headaches and extreme fatigue. Loss of coordination or fine motor skills can last for days after the nettle sting. It has been fatal for dogs and horses, with respiratory distress and convulsions, and even a report of a young man dying of paralysis and respiratory distress in 1961 after walking through a thicket and sustaining multiple stings.(10)
Homeopathically this remedy will be similar to Urtica urens, although perhaps more intense!
I hope you have enjoyed this walk through some more native New Zealand plants and their homeopathic use.
Other remedies that I will need to come back to another day are our insects and spiders – Lampona Cylindrata, the white tailed spider – although while we have these in New Zealand, Alastair Gray actually prepared this remedy from Australian spiders; Latrodectus Katipo, our native Katipo spider; and Culex Pervigilens, another Alastair Gray proving from the mosquito that is most prevalent in New Zealand.
Pukapuka aka Brachyglottis Repens:
(6) The Rainbow Essences of Aotearoa by Robert van der Touw.
(7) The Homeopathic proving of Pōhutukawa by Kathy Thomas
Ongaonga aka Urtica Ferox