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Phyllcladus trichomanoides

 Tanekaha is a native New Zealand plant that has the constituents to help in liver problems and is often included in herbal formulas. Suzanne Aubert (a Catholic sister, actively involved with the Maori, in the late 19th century) singled it out to use in her ‘Natanata’ medicine which she found was unrivalled in the treatment of chronic illness of the stomach. It can help to fortify the immune system, revitalise the constitution and balance the hormonal system. Prescribed by a naturopath in a tincture form Tanekaha can be used internally for dysentery and diarrhoea, internal haemorrhage, menstruation problems and liver disorders. Externally Tanekaha can be applied to boils, abscesses, septic infections as well as to burns. The bark is commonly the part used, by boiling a few broken sticks or bark in a pot of water. Also used are the ‘leaves’ or cladodes in the same way for glandular swellings. The longer the bark dries before boiling the more potent the brew. This should be applied sparingly.


The tannin in Tanekaha gives the bark its anti-microbial action, and bitter astringent taste, which may play a role in protection from predators, though tanekaha can be attacked by scale. Inositol, a carbohydrate, though not a classical sugar, is the constituent that is beneficial when Tanekaha is used medicinally for cirrhosis, hepatitis, fatty liver and high cholesterol.


Tanakaha should not be used if pregnant as it can bring away the placenta.