Because modern medicine isn’t limited to the chemist
Have you ever wondered what the pilgrims did all those years ago when they got sick? It wasn’t like they could just pop down to their local doctor to grab an over-the-counter purchases.
No, long before all of mankind relied on modern medicine to fix their owies, we relied on natural health remedies. But while many of us now rely on chemical potions and lotions to fix our ailments, there remains a land Downunder where nature still comes to the healing party.
Yes, while clean green New Zealand is just as modern as the next Western nation, we’re also home to an abundance of natural health remedies and products that could fill your first aid kit and assist with all-round wellbeing just as well. Here are some of our favourite natural health remedies from New Zealand.
New Zealand is famous far and wide for our delicious Manuka honey, but did you know it’s also one of the best natural health remedies for healing and wellbeing? Manuka honey has healing, antibacterial and medicinal properties that are perfect for healing cuts, wounds and burns. Be careful not to smear any old honey onto a sore though; opt for a Manuka honey which is produced in New Zealand and has a high Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) rating – the higher the UMF rating, the purer the product.
Tea Tree Oil
New Zealand-made tea tree oil is often used to treat skin concerns like acne, fungal infections, burns, cuts, mosquito bites and bee stings. Tea tree oil’s medicinal power is its antibacterial properties, which cleanse the skin and kill harmful bacteria. Tea tree oil is typically applied topically, although it can also be added to bath water to treat coughs and chest infections.
The Italians can’t claim ownership to olive oil anymore, because New Zealand-made olive oil is some of the best in the world. Produced in our clean and green landscapes, New Zealand-made olive oil helps keep skin smooth, supple and youthful, and supports all-round wellbeing. Don’t drink the stuff though; your insides won’t thank you! But regular helpings in salads and cooking are good for all-round health, and many New Zealand beauty suppliers now incorporate the health benefits of olive oil into their products.
New Zealand Flax
Flax is widely recognised as a fibre that the ancient Maori people of New Zealand used to make clothing and bags, but the seeds of the flax plant can also be used medicinally. Not only a source of fibre and omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed can also be used as a laxative, as well as treating conditions such as high cholesterol and menopause.
Kawakawa (Pepper Tree)
The Kawakawa tree is usually found on the edge of the New Zealand bush. Despite its small stature, it is very significant, especially to the Maori people. Often referred to as the ‘pharmacy of the forest,’ the Kawakawa tree can be used for a wide range of traditional herbal remedies, including as an insect repellent, soothing mosquito bites, cuts, rashes and infections, relieving aches and pains, and easing sore tummies and bloating. This ingredient is definitely a good option to add to any modern first aid kit.
New Zealand Spring Water
New Zealand is well-recognised for producing some of the purest spring water in the world, from well-known brands like Waiwera and Antipodes. Each type of spring water is different, depending on the minerals, salts and gases that are deposited in it. The purer the water, the better for you it is, which applies to ingesting natural New Zealand spring water as well as cleaning out wounds with it.
The leaves and bark of the Hoheria (Hoheria populnea) have traditionally been used to soothe digestive complaints. Chewing the leaf produces a slippery substance that soothes the digestive and respiratory tracts, calming coughs and supporting upset tummies and heart burn.
New Zealand Calendula (Marigold)
Calendula, more commonly known as the marigold, has been used to heal wounds for centuries. Calendula has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties, which makes it useful for disinfecting and treating things like minor wounds, chapped skin, mosquito bites, burns, acne and rashes. The healing power of calendula isn’t limited to just outside the body; calendula-infused water can also be gargled to help relieve sore throats and ulcers. Calendula can be applied as just about anything, including creams, ointments, massage oils, facial steams and teas.
New Zealand Bees Wax
If New Zealand produces some of the best Manuka honey in the world, it makes sense that our bees are pretty awesome too. Beeswax is a versatile natural health remedy, and has been known to help relieve high cholesterol, pain, swelling, diarrhoea – even hiccups.
New Zealand is home to far more sheep than people, but we don’t just turn their wool into high-quality clothing, we also harvest lanolin from it. Lanolin is quickly absorbed into the skin, which makes it a superior moisturiser for the face, hands – even cracked heels. Its absorption speed means it is also often combined in medicinal ointments with other ingredients that need to reach deeper layers of the skin quickly. Lanolin can also support healing in burns.
Not strictly a first aid ingredient, natural mud from Rotorua’s thermal hot pools and mud pools deserves a mention because of its therapeutic properties. Rotorua is famous for its mud pools, and many beauty therapists and spa resorts apply the mud to patients’ bodies to smooth, relax and rejuvenate the skin. The power of the mud comes from the minerals found beneath Rotorua’s surface. Many beauty products like face masks now include Rotorua mud.