It’s almost Anzac Day, a day where the Anzac spirit binds Australians and Kiwis and underpins our shared characteristics and qualities our soldiers are believed to have shown on the battle field.
These qualities include endurance, courage, ingenuity, good humour, larrikinism and mateship. Attributes which still tie our nations together regardless of the gentle ribbing we like to give each other.
Our nations also have plants, tree and herbs which too share common characteristics and can sometimes be used to treat similar health conditions.
The manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) tree has long been used to help treat fungal and bacterial infections and Australia’s equivalent, the tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), can also be used as a disinfectant.
Traditionally used by the indigenous people of Australia, the leaves were crushed and the essential oils inhaled to treat coughs and colds. They also used the leaves as poultices to treat wounds and heal skin diseases.
Tea tree essential oil is perfect for making a disinfectant spray by diluting the essential oil into water and adding a small amount of odourless and colourless alcohol such as vodka to make sure the essential oil disperses into the water. Simply spray onto hard surfaces and let stand for ten seconds and then wipe dry.
Of course, our Manuka honey is famed worldwide for its antibacterial properties, the honey made from manuka flowers is measured in UMF5+ through to UMF20+.
Our very own akeake (Dodonaea viscosa) is a small tree also found in Australia where it is called hopbush. Its Maori name is thought to have derived from the phrase, “ake ake”, meaning for ever and ever and probably refers to the hardness of the wood.
Used traditionally to make paddles, weapons, digging sticks and spade blades, the twigs were used to make a number of dyes – pale green, yellow green, and bright gold.
Today, the leaf is used in herbal medicine to help the immune system and to help bring down a fever. It contains saponins and flavanoids which help to promote sweating – therefore decreasing fever – but is also used to treat digestive spasms and cramps.
The spirit of Anzac Day is rock solid. Built on the traditional value that help keep island populations such as ours strong, get down to the RSA and share a story as the sun rises tomorrow morning.
Lest we forget.