Updated: Dec 11, 2022
Koromiko was the rongoā that was sent to the Māori troops during the World War to heal the symptoms and discomfort of dysentery. It was so effective that the dried leaves were shared around to all soldiers in need.
Koromiko or Hebe stricta is a flowering plant which is endemic to Aotearoa. It has long pale green leaves and tiny white flowers that blooms in late summer early autumn. When the flowers are in bloom they are formed into a dense bunch of blooming white droplets that almost resembles a sweep or a brush. The young shoots were used for stomach complaints such as bloating, gas, nausea, diarrhoea and constipation. The fact that the koromiko flowers looks like a brush that could clean the insides of the digestive tract could be a gentle reminder of what the rongoā of koromiko can do. It is a rongoā for the puku in that it helps to restore balance ā tinana and ā wairua. Many whanau have koromiko growing in the front of their whare for this very purpose.
Koromiko leaves can be used as a poultice to apply on the body to soothe and alleviate ulcers and skin sores. To do this simply add a handful of leaves to a pot of water and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the juice and keep in a container for later use. Take the warm leaves and apply to the skin. The wairākau or juice of the boiled koromiko can be added to bathwater as an astringent. Astringents help cleanse skin, reduce inflammation, remove excess oil from pores. The wairākau can also be used topically to ease chafing.
When the kuia chose the koromiko to send to the Māori troops we must remember that it was for their mokopuna. It was not only to cure their dysentry but to heal the fear from within their colon. It was to strengthen their digestive system so they could assimilate the flow of information and in turn, intensify their matakitetanga. Without their matakitetanga they could not sense the mauri of their surroundings. They could not tune into their surroundings which was pivotal for their survival.
Dysentery is an intestinal infection that causes severe diarrhea. Diarrhea occurs because the body rejects the food before you can digest what you need and what is good for you. The guts refuse to digest anything that enters. It cannot digest the circumstances. There is fear in the guts.
This means that the flow of kai or kōrero cannot be retained long enough to provide necessary information to direct and implement the completion of circumstances. The data cannot be examined or assimilated to be executed effectively.
Koromiko is the light in the darkest tunnel. It strengthens the pūmanawa which is a persons gut instincts. Your gut instinct is your primal wisdom. It is very visceral and physical – you feel it in your body. It is the physical reaction you have to the world around and inside of you.
When you experience an overwhelming “gut feeling,” your body is carrying out a primal response to subconscious information. The ultimate purpose of your gut instinct is to protect you.
Your body is like the television screen on which your subconscious (the radio waves) transmits its information. When you can learn to read your body, you can learn to accurately tune in to your gut instinct.
If you look at the flower of the koromiko you will see that it is shaped like a long brush with bristles. It looks as though it could be used to move and sweep the colon. Imagine the brush moving and turning through the colon brushing and sweeping away debris. See it clearing as it moves through the length of the colon. The bright white flowers acting as a light in the darkest tunnel radiating and illuminating as it goes.
If you are interested in learning more about rongoā rākau from a wairua perspective you may be interested in Punaora Rongoā. Punaora Rongoā is a 9 month course delivered online. It starts on the 2nd March with the first online zoom session at 7 pm.
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