Wild foods not only provide free, nutritional food that bonds us closer to nature, many of them also have amazing medicinal purposes. Much of our modern medicine comes from knowledge gained from medicinal plants. Using medicinal plants instead of man-made pharmaceuticals is gentler on the body, cheaper for the wallet and potentially prevents you from getting adverse side effects.
Having said, that we are not advocating for ignoring medical advice or refusing modern medication. We do recommend trying a natural approach first, for those ailments that don’t require urgent medical intervention. We also recommend gaining knowledge of medicinal plants for survival situations when there is no medical help available. New Zealand is fortunate to have the amazing Manuka growing freely.
The world has discovered the incredible healing properties of Manuka (better known as Tea Tree) and are happily paying a fortune for Manuka Honey due to its purported antibacterial properties. Certainly the Manuka oil for sale claims to have significant antibacterial properties. The Maori used the shrub for treating many ailments, from skin diseases to mouthwash. They mostly used an infusion of the bark for this.
Captain Cook preferred the Manuka for his daily cup of tea. I have to say this is an acquired taste; it has a slight bitter flavour. I personally prefer my coffee (organic, fair trade and I am happy to attempting to grow my own – see picture).
But a good immune booster it is worth having a cup or two. Simply get about one teaspoon of young leaves per cup of tea. The secret to make it taste good is not to brew it too long – it will look pale – and add a spoonful of honey.
Manuka, in addition to the antibacterial properties, is said to be a good boost for the immune system. The boiled leaves can also be used as a steam inhalation. If you boil the leaves and bark together the liquid can be used as a rub for arthritis and stiff joints. The sawdust of the shrub can be used for smoking fish and meat and adds a delicious flavour. So there are plenty of simple ways that you begin to introduce this magnificent plant into your everyday life.