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Medicine man shares his knowledge

Tuesday 8 September 2020 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local


Medicine man shares his knowledge
Ngarima George pounds 'vairakau Maori' traditional medicinal plants for people who want natural health remedies. 20090703.

Long before people made appointments and waited in a doctor’s room to be diagnosed and given a prescription, humans used wild plants with healing properties to treat infections and ailments.

Rarotonga’s very own “vairakau Maori” (traditional medicine) man Ngarima George is a huge advocate for the use of local plants to help heal illnesses and wounds. He is approached by many people to make vairakau Maori and enjoys doing his part to educate and show people how it’s done. “I feel this is an opportunity for me to help our people and share what I know,” he says. George said some of the world’s top healing plants are found right here on Rarotonga, growing wild in the bush. Many people on the island don’t realise what natural medicinal plants grow on their properties and so happily chop them down. “They have no idea what the vairakau Maori are, so I also show them what the actual plants look like,” said George. George said the top 10 vairakau Maori plants found on Rarotonga are: moringa, kava Maori, aloe vera cactus, the mile-a-minute weed, poue that is found on the beach, rau maire or aka maire, dandelion, sour sop, Maori lemon (spiky one), passionfruit enua and renga (tumeric). Each week he pounds and mixes power plants ready for people to drink at his Punanga Nui Market hut. Pounding the plants together to make a mulch is the easy part, it’s collecting the plants you need that’s time consuming, he said. A popular colon cleansing mixture is: kava Maori, poue, aka maire and moringa; pound into a pulp, transfer to a cloth and squeeze into a jug with fresh nu and drink. “It’s that simple. You can also boil the plants if you like and add a bit of honey and drink it like a tea,” George said. “This is also good for male urine problems.” He also advises that it is best to drink the medicine at home to accommodate frequent bowel movements. George, who likes to share his knowledge of healing remedies, said “the more people try it and it works for them, the better”. Another simple power plant medicine is the notorious mile-a-minute weed. “Boil some leaves in a pot and drink or pound the leaves, squeeze into a glass and add some fresh orange juice and drink - not every day, once a week.” The moringa tree (also known as the miracle tree) is a super health plant, from the seeds, to the flowers and leaves, says George. People who suffer health ailments are encouraged to try the vairakau Maori. “We have the (healing) plants right here growing around us, why not try it,” said George.