Turning wild plants into natural remedies – RNZ

Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes
It doesn’t take long for Rochana Moon to fill her wicker basket with wild plants and fungi.
The medical herbalist and naturopath is foraging beside the Cardrona River near Albert Town in Central Otago.
It’s one of her favourite spots. She leans down to gathers some chickweed.
“It’s a medicinal and edible plant, it’s incredibly nutrient-dense and it’s quite yummy!”
Also dotted around the clearing is St John’s wort along with burdock plants that have big heart-shaped leaves.
Burdock plants Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes
St John’s wort Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes
For Rochana it’s an outdoor medicine cabinet.
“Burdock is a root vegetable in Japan and Asia and it’s a traditional herbal medicine as well with very good blood cleansing abilities,” Rochana says.
Further along the river are elderberry and hawthorne trees. Rochana makes tinctures with the berries by soaking them in alcohol.
“There have been many studies done about hawthorne being amazing for the cardio-vascular system,” she says.
She picks some juicy bunches of elderberries that leave a purple stain on her hands.
“This is the Sambucus Nigra, which is the black elder. It’s the main species we get here and its biggest benefits are its anti-viral qualities.”   
Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes
On some fallen wood Rochana spots a cluster of turkey tail mushrooms.
They are an effective immune booster, she says, and have been used for medicinal purposes in Asia for centuries.
She recommends using them to make a broth.
Rochana also runs Wise Moon Wellness workshops and takes people on plant foraging walks.
“I teach people how to identify, harvest and make medicine and food out of these plants.”
Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes
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