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Medicine Country – The Kimberley Western Australia – by Lisa Williams – Medical Herbalist (NZAMH)

I begin today by acknowledging all of the indigenous people of the Kimberley the Traditional Custodians of the land all of which are represented by the Kimberly Land Council, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present. I extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples there today. 

The remote Kimberley region in Australia’s north west is around 420,000 square kilometres in area and dates back to a time period of 1,800 million years. The indigenous people are believed to have lived here for around 65,000 years according to the carbon dating of some of the oldest rock art found in the area archived by the Bradshaw foundation.  Around 80% of the plant life that grow in the Kimberleys is not found anywhere else on earth. Its known by the locals  as Medicine Country.

Dream time lead me into the cradle of humanity, this vast untouched land. We travelled 7,500 kilometers laying down our song line, playing music at every camp, giving respect to the indigenous people who walked this land before us.

The people of this land are artists & musicians, quick talking and quick thinking, they take their work seriously. Some community art centres only use traditional paints made from bark & ochre, others allow the use of acrylics to paint bright beautiful powerful images of plants, silhouettes and landscapes to be used in ceremony.  This painting of the Bush Tucker Tomato symbolises my journey and was still wet when I purchased it from artist Jowelee Malay at the Broome market, I cradled it on my knee for many miles along the dusty red earth roads waiting for it to dry.

The Kimberley has a monsoonal climate with distinct wet and dry seasons.  The wet summer from December unto March  brings on the main flush of growth,  this is a time when much of the country becomes impassible by road.  The dry is virtually a drought with no rainfall between June & September.  Many Kimberley plants have an important place in the culture of the Aboriginal people as a food source, to make implements or to indicate a change in the season.  The rainforest consists of thousands of small patches of deciduous monsoon vine thickets embedded in savannah woodland.  These isolated vine thickets are rich in many plants that enclose their seeds in bright-coloured soft fruits which are eaten and dispersed readily by birds, different colours attracting different birds.

Delma Cox, my first teacher, is the grandmother at Gnylmarung aboriginal community on the Dampier Peninsular – she is an amazing fisherwoman and during the time we camped on her land she generously introduced me to her bush tucker orchard so that I could begin to identify the various plant species.

Magabala – (Marsdenia viridiflora) is a popular fruit often known as bush banana, it’s a long green vine that grows on a host tree.  It’s collected during the wet, eaten raw when moist and sweet. The texture is crisp and the immature seeds taste like young green peas. Every part can be eaten – the skin, seeds and pulp.  The indigenous Magabala Book store is not surprisingly named after this popular vine – publishing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors, artists and illustrators from all over Australia.

The five-petal Desert Rose, or Native Hibiscus, Vinkis plant was chosen by KSGAC (Kimberley Stolen Generation Aboriginal Corporation) to symbolise the scattering of the Stolen Generations and their resilience to the eugenic policies of Australia.   This Stolen Generation flower was adopted because it is found widely across Australia and it is a survivor. Its colour denotes compassion and spiritual healing.

Crabs Eye bean – Jinjalgurany – (Abrus precatorius)  are highly decorative but extremely toxic – children from the Beagle Bay mission made rosary beads from them – they’re toxicity can make women abort & become infertile.  One bean contains enough poison to kill an adult, this is released when the tough outer shell is cracked.

Top – Madorr Bark, Mid Left – Jikily flower; Middle – Kurrajong seedpod; Middle Right – Crabs Eye Bean; Bottom left – Marul Berry ; Bottom Middle – Magabala; far right – Willings tree flower.

Jikily Tree – Honey suckle tree (Bauhinia cunninghamii)  A widespread tree with clusters of bright red flowers make it very conspicuous. We suck the honey out of the red flowers and the birds do too. The sap is for a sore stomach and the wood makes good coals.  The bark and wood is used to treat headaches, as an antiseptic and remedy for a fever.

Marul Tree – (Terminalia petiolaris)  fruit resembles an Olive with a sweet blackberry taste and large pip.  These are a Kimberley endemic, meaning they are only found here and nowhere else in the world. Growing up to fourteen metres, and occurring mostly in monsoonal vine thicket, they withstand cyclone damage and are an essential canopy tree in this threatened ecological community.

Jacinta & Lenny live up on the magnificent cliffs at Pender Bay, they support the local mob by buying the Kakadu plums that grow on their land. These are processed and marketed as Kimberley Wild Gubinge in a very modern yet remote processing facility. Jacinta explained the Monsoon Vine Thicket in the protected vegetation area which they don’t burn.

The Gubinge commonly known as the Kakadu Plum – (Terminalia Ferdinandiana) has the highest natural source of Vitamin C on earth giving around 3150mg of vitamin C per 100 grams of fruit, roughly equivalent to 60 times stronger than an orange.   Madoorr Bark from the Gubinge Tree makes a dark red concoction used for leg sores & insect bites. 

The Willings Tree or Caustic bush as it is commonly known (Grevillea dimidiata) is used for ceremony in aboriginal law initiation & circumcision, during mens business they go bush for one month and the women hold the sacred space performing their own ceremonies on certain days in correlation with the men. The mothers and sisters make a braid from their hair to tie around their sons waist as a reminder that they are there supporting them on their journey into manhood.

Desert Bloodwood – Jukulu / Marroolal – (Corymbia bella) – Red gum is medicinal – applied to sore teeth.  Bark is burnt to provide ash to mix with chewing tobacco.  When a tree bleeds the sap flows until it crystallises, apply the sticky gum directly to sores or cuts as an antiseptic. If the sap is in a dried form, it can be crushed into powder and boiled in water to use as an antiseptic wash.  Also used to tan kangaroo-skin waterbags.  The roots store water, dig up the roots and drain into a container.

Bundy from the Bardi Jawi mob at Kooljaman says “Follow the Bower bird, he’ll show you the way, he’ll let you know the seasons, when the fruits and berries are ripening.  The Brulger bird will guide you into the dreamtime, the Oraralee (seagull) will appear when the bait fish are running and larger shoals of fish will come through”.

Boab Tree – (Adansonia gregorii) is symbolic with its immense swollen trunk and striking silhouette, favouring the rich loamy soils of the Fitzroy & Ord valleys.  The root fibres are made into string, the white pith of the large woody pendulous fruit is sucked out and tastes like sherbet and is very refreshing, the seeds are ground into a white paste and the fruits are frequently carved or etched. The hollow trunk of the tree fills with water during the wet providing water storage during the dry.

Kimberley Rose & Kurrajong Seeds – (Brachychiton populneus–  are highly nutritious seeds extracted from hairy pods providing a great source of nectar for bees and other foragers.  Various parts of the plant provide food sources, roasted and ground seeds produce exceptionally rich dark flour used in  bread, the roasted seeds can be eaten or ground as a coffee substitute, and the tap root is edible & nutritious, similar to a carrot.

Pandanus (Spiralus) is an important food plant, It’s a widespread tree with razor sharp spines found along waterways, coastal areas and woodlands often forming large dense stands.  A ten metre tall Palm like tree with fruit resembling a wooden pineapple turning red when ripe.  It splits into segments which fall to the ground, the kernels inside the fruit segments are eaten raw or lightly roasted. The fruit itself is chewed or sucked for juice, a preparation from the core of the stem of aerial roots are used to make medicines, eaten, drunk or applied to treat stomach pain, colds, toothache, headaches and ulcers. Pared leaves are used for weaving mats, baskets, shoes and dilly bags.

Joongoon  – (Mimusops elengi)  Fruit is a prized resource eaten raw or warmed in hot ashes. 100g of fruit contains 46g moisture, 2.4g protein, 1g ash, no fat, 49g carbohydrates, 161.8mg calcium, 402mg potassium, 229mg sodium and 1.5mg ascorbic acid.  Eating too many can cause constipation.  It’s found in India where the bark, flowers, fruits and seeds are used in Ayurvedic medicine being astringent, cooling, anthelmintic, tonic and febrifuge. It is mainly used for dental ailments such as bleeding gums, pyorrhea and loose teeth.

Kapok Bush – Cotton Tree – (Cochlospermum fraseri grows particularly well in sandstone habitats. Within the fruit the seeds are imbedded in white cotton-like hair, the roots of young trees are dug up and roasted on coals. Flower petals are eaten raw. The cotton hairs of the seed capsules are used as body decoration. 

The Strychnine tree – (Strychnos lucida) grows throughout this region – it’s highly toxic and bitter quality explains why there was so much fruit left on the tree near the end of the dry season, wild animals and birds know to keep away.  A tiny seed can kill any mammal, it is a major source of the highly poisonous alkaloids strychnine and brucine.  It has primarily been used as a pesticide, particularly to kill rats. The homeopathic Nux Vomica is made from this plant and medical journals describe its use in Indian pharmacopeia and Chinese medicine, although widely used in western medicine before World War II, it has no present use.  Although recent medical studies have found outstanding promising use for this potently toxic plant.

Rosella plant –  (Hibiscus Sabdariffa)  Is a delicious bush tucker plant and is thought to have been brought to Australia by Indonesian fishermen, thousands of years ago.  The red edible calyxes are high in vitamin C with a tart-sweet flavour which goes well in salads, one of the women at a camp in Kalumbaru made beautiful jellies, red sauces and jams. It also makes flavoursome cordials, syrups, fruit teas and wine.

The desert has a peace all its own where one feels tranquil and complete in its vast open space.  There is a harshness and a gentleness to this land – a peaceful quiet that could take ones life if you’re not prepared.   One can’t help but quietly mourn for the original people of this land and the destruction of their culture by the colonists. I came to experience some form of healing but quickly realised that the indigenous people of this land that require the healing.

The original people are an inherently peaceful race – highly superstitious,  Ngankari healers believe in astral travel at night where they visit the stars, their relatives and the people they are concerned about.    The elders say that time spent in dreamtime connects us to the inner realms of awareness. Ngangkari healers offer three main forms of healing, including bush medicine, smoking ceremony and re-aligning the spirit.

We walked though underground cave systems and read the rock art at the various cave galleries on the Mitchell Plateau tuning into times past and the new drawings keeping the galleries alive.  Earth shelters & floors were made by grinding and mixing the hard concrete like cellulose shell of the termite mounds with soil and water to create a tough outer shell & surface that endures the rain, wind & heat.  When someone dies their body is buried within a termite mound and is consumed.  

Bruce Pascoes book Dark Emu relays information about vast yam plantations and stooked grain fields as far as the eye can see, referenced from many early european explorers diaries expressing that these people were not merely nomadic but gardeners and propagators of large crops. 

There is a double edged sword with the Australian Governments regime of scrub burning to reduce the fuel load of bush fires if lightening strikes – some seeds are germinated by the heat, other plants less resilient, die off in areas regularly burnt and the reduction in biodiversity is obvious.  Various nuts and seeds are roasted and good to eat after the inferno passes and the morning dew puts the fires out.  

The Kimberley is a stable land with months of dry and months of wet when the windjana gods drop life giving rain.  The smell of the desert after the rain is a beautiful rich earthy woody scent of sandalwood and eucalyptus.  

Where the Gibb River Road ends on the fertile Kununara plains, 12,000 hectares of Indian Sandalwood plantation grows 5 million trees.  Being a hemiparasite, each sandalwood requires at least 4 host trees. Its a noble tree, revered for its ubiquitous wellbeing properties. Its high value has caused over exploitation, to the point where the wild population is vulnerable to extinction. Indian sandalwood still commands high prices for its essential oil owing to its high alpha santalol content.  This Australian grown Indian Sandalwood Quintis Santalum Album ® is claimed to be the only pharmaceutical grade sandalwood in the world.  The most notable sandalwoods in the world are Indian and Australian, each with its own distinct aroma profile. Australian sandalwood grows in the arid central west of Australia; whereas the Indian species is now grown in the sub-tropical north.  Medical qualities claim to help eczema, acne, psoriasis, oral mucositis and Human papillomavirus. The nut is bland, light textured and mucilaginous.

Kimberley White gum (Eucalyptus houseana)  leaves are poisonous to most animals and humans, we can’t safely ingest eucalyptus. However, clinical studies have indicated that eucalyptus leaves and its oils have promising antifungal and antiseptic properties when applied topically.  To make a eucalyptus inhalant, add a few drops of eucalyptus oil or a handful of leaves to hot water or a vaporizer and deeply inhale the steam vapor for  five to 10 minutes at a time to help clear the lungs.

Clarrie Djanghara, president of Kalumburu Aboriginal Community Council was my guide in Kalumburu and asked me to help educate people about their ways. During the short time I spent with him I began to understand the struggles they have faced as a remote community, the long road of reconciliation for past grievances, and the great desire for their people to advance.  I purchased two paintings in his village from siblings Ann and Joshua, both talented in their own right. Ann’s painting is styled on the complex bent knee period, where the figures are carrying dilly bags filled with herbs.

The Kimberley is the last great botanical frontier in Australia.  The region’s plants may harbour secrets that could shed light on Australia’s botanical history.  During one recent scientific expedition, 10 new species were collected in six days, there are not many places in the world where finding this many new species is possible, All specimens are carefully studied, labelled, named and preserved at the Western Australian Herbarium or propagated at Kings Park’s Biodiversity Conservation Centre, in Perth.

There is alot of money to be made in cosmetics, medicines and health foods which use properties derived from a number of Australian native plants.  Dr Daniel Robinson from the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of New South Wales has been working on the implications of patents over Australian native plants.  There is potentially a massive loss of opportunity here as biological resources could be exploited overseas without the opportunity for small indigenous enterprises to tap into their natural resources.  It’s also culturally offensive to certain indigenous groups when others use these plants and patent them without their consent. 

Australia has signed an agreement called the Nagoya Protocol, it’s essentially about closing the Bio-piracy loophole … where people haven’t sought consent and haven’t agreed to share benefits where they’ve used both a biological resource and or traditional knowledge from a traditional group. There’s been many cases globally and Australia appears to be uncovering more making sure sovereign biological resources and also biological resources that are under custodianship of indigenous groups and stewardship, require an agreement and permit on control of their use.

Today I am propagating the seeds of the Vinkis plant that Delma gave me, representing the stolen generation, these may not grow so well in my wet homeland but they are planted firmly in my heart with strong roots and a deep respect for this ancient culture that requires recognition, preservation and propagation.

My sincere thanks goes to Max Williams, Geoff Williams, Delma & Alfonz Cox at Gnylmarung, Jacinta & Lenny at Kimberley Wild Gubinge,  Bundy at Kooljaman, Guide Clarrie Djanhara – Kalumburu , Guides Albert & Alfonz – Wunambal Gaambera mob Kulumbaru, Rebecca of the Gija mob Purnalulu.

Written by: Lisa Williams – Medical Herbalist (NZAMH) Registered Iridologist (IRISNZ – IIPA)


Common Plants of the Kimberleys – Government Dept of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions

El Questro – Kimberley – Top 20 Plants

Wild Food Plants of Australia – Tim Low

Dark Emu – Brice Pascoe

Philippine Medicinal Plants Database

African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines

Traditional Healers of Central Australia: Ngankari – Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council Aboriginal Corporation

2020 International Iridology Practitioners Symposium – by Lisa Williams – Medical Herbalist (NZAMH) Registered Iridologist (IRISNZ – IIPA)

The fascinating evolution of Iridology continues as photographic technology captures the intricate network of our bodies nerve activity through the various zones in the Iris. There is exciting new research coming to light.

I will be bringing this new information into my work to help you through my ongoing practice in the art/science of Iridology. With the evolution of humanity and these dynamic times in our worlds history it feels pertinent to understand our wholistic selves as best we can and to gain an insight into our health and wellbeing through the window that only Iridology can offer.

The 2020 summit presentations were held over 3 days and covered an interesting variety of topics, some of the features were as follows:

Colour Differentiation of Brown Iris – A presentation on the categorisation of the Brown Iris based on the varying shades of brown and its sub types which relate to the different constitutions. ShownLin Er Naturopath CCII, & Ruibo Yao Ph.D, CCI, CND

Going through the archives to understand the now – Birgit Lueders our IIPA President led us on a journey through the archives going back hundreds of years, introducing the physicians and masters of Iridology throughout the ages.

Signs of Digestive Dysfunction – Toni Miller ND, DHM, MII, CCII, F.Ir distinguished problems associated with the digestive system and absorption of fats, carbohydrates, proteins and minerals using signs in the eye. ‘We are what we eat and efficiently metabolize’.

Iridology and Nutrition – The guide to super Immunity – Dr Ellen Tart-Jensen Ph.D., D.Sc. C.C.I.I. discussed Iris signs and ways to keep all of our bodily systems healthy and resistant to modern day viruses and disease.

Pandemics and Immune Systems – Engineer & Naturopath Matthew D’haemer explored health principles and the way that Iridology can assist holistic practitioners.

Identifying potential breast issues in the iris – Toni Miller gave an additional class demonstrating how the iris can identify dispositions to a variety of breast issues. Common iris signs and some advanced understanding of interpreting the iris based on extensive clinical studies.

If you would like to explore the inner realms of your constitution and are interested in experiencing an Iridology Analysis then please contact me via:

Yours in Health

Lisa Williams

Medical Herbalist (NZAMH), Registered Iridologist (IRISNZ – IIPA)

International Iridology Practitioners Association Symposium 2019 – by Lisa Williams – Medical Herbalist (NZAMH) Registered Iridologist (IRISNZ – IIPA)

Goldenbay Iridology Ellen Tart-Jensen Lisa Williams

Iridologists from around the world gathered for IIPA’s 14th Annual Symposium on the Gold Coast in August.  It was great to connect and share experiences and also learn about new developments and techniques in the world of Iridology.

11 different international speakers presented the latest developments which left the crowd feeling enthusiastic and fully appreciative of the technical advances that Iridology has made during this digital age through the brilliant minds of Doctors who are leading the way and continuing to develop this science.

One of my highlights was meeting Dr Ellen Tart – Jensen,  who’s lifelong contribution and dedication to the development of Iridology internationally has been outstanding and inspiring.

Presenters included the accomplished Tharindu Fernando an Opthalmologist / Iridologist from Sri Lanka who presented his newly developed Program the ‘Kidney Function Estimator’  where a photo of the kidney sector in the Iris is entered and an algorithm calculates the eGFR which consistently matches with blood samples, the program goes one step further and can tell if one kidney is functioning better than the other, where a blood test cannot.

Genomic Iridology – The Next Frontier, was presented by Dr Michael Salas ND who clearly showed the correlation of the Methylation Detox system of the body and its relationship with the Liver via colourings and markings in the Iris.

Another highlight was attending Toni Millers Master Class,  which covered a variety of interesting topics based on the Iris including pigmentation, colours and unusual signs seen in the eyes.

A fascinating presentation on Esogetics Using Light Frequencies and Iridology to access Genetic Information was presented by Birgit Lueders and Dr Rosemary Bourne – which explained the avenues of shining healing light into the dark places.

Doctor Emil Bewo-Lundblad PhD from Switzerland presented his thesis where he overlay all the Iridology charts which have been developed from around the world throughout the ages and clearly portrayed and explained the similarities.

I have no doubt that the future of health analysis is going to benefit immensely from the one and only very special organ that displays the functions of the inner body to the outer world, the Iris!

If you would like an Iridology Reading please contact me via

Yours in Health

Lisa Williams

Medical Herbalist (NZAMH),  Registered Iridologist (IRISNZ – IIPA)

Native Healing Plants on the Heaphy Track – by Lisa Williams – Medical Herbalist (NZAMH)

The Heaphy Track is a 78 kilometre walking trail traversing several different forest terrains, winding across the northwestern reaches of the Kahurangi National Park.  It follows an ancient Maori Pounamu Trail through the Heaphy River (Whakapoai) linking Golden Bay (Te Tai Tapu) with the West Coast of the South Island, (Te Tai Poutini) New Zealand (Aotearoa). 

The Northern end of the track starts in the Aorere Valley, Golden Bay.  The first 17.5 kilometre ascent to Perry Saddle at 915 metres winds its way through dense forest up to the monastic mountain peaks through stands of giant Silver & Red Beech trees, Southern Rata, Miro, Kowhai, Horopito, Punga, Koromiko, Ferns, Mosses, Fungi and Lichens. 

Autumn air is filled with medicinal aromas and phenols of these forest plants, their leaves, bark, cones, flowers and berries.  The frangipani / lemon scent of the kiekie stimulates the senses as it drifts through the forest canopy.  Aromatic red berries of Miro, Rimu and Kanono blend with flowering Southern Rata and Manuka Berries.  These are all part of the magnificent potpourri that line the pathway as they ripen and fall. 

These ancient forest giants connect the deep soil substructure of microbial colonies to the astral planes, in rhythm with the sun and moon, cleansing our atmosphere and creating life giving oxygen for all species to live. 

Crystal clear, pure water flows from the valleys and when drinking the essence of this forest, the minerals penetrate and strengthen every cell in our body providing Nature Therapy.  The rhythm of the 4 day walk sets in – the timeless trance of travel and thought – meditation on movement and being at one with nature.

A recent article in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health states that our immune system is strengthened by Forest Bathing.   This research found an association with healing and therapeutic effects which are invaluable and beneficial on many levels, including increased immune system function, reduced blood pressure, less allergies and respiratory issues, reduced depression, anxiety and stress.  The Japanese call Forest Bathing Shinrin-Yoku and can be prescribed by a doctor.

On day 2, at an altitude of 625 metres, the bush transforms into the Gouland Downs.  This high country rolling tussock land is home to Takahe birds which graze on its stalks.  Mountain Manuka grows as a stunted ground cover trackside resembling wild Thyme. 

Sundews (Drosera) also appear, a Carnivorous plant luring, capturing, and digesting insects using stalked mucilaginous  glands covering their leaf surfaces. The insects are used to supplement the poor mineral nutrition of the soil in which the plants grow.  The species vary greatly in size and form, and are native to every continent except Antarctica.

The ‘Enchanted Forest’ grows on a Limestone vein running through the Gouland Downs, the rocks are some of the oldest in New Zealand.   The beech forest here is covered with lichens and thick moss, some of which have antiseptic properties.  

Mosses were used by the Maori to line babies baskets and bedding, pack around wounds and absorb blood, it also proved useful during womens moontime cycle.

Kakaruwai & Piwakawaka seduce you with song on their piece of track – while the Ruru watch you pass by silently from the high branches in the early dawn.

Various Koromiko (Hebe Salicifolia) pop up all the way along the track, reaching 2m in height and have long pale whitish / purple flowers. The young leaf tips can be chewed to relieve stomach aches, diarrhoea and dysentery. It was used extensively in the Second World War for this purpose when dried leaves were sent overseas to New Zealand soldiers. The active ingredient is a phenolic glycocide.

The bright sky blue of the fungus Werewere kokako (Entoloma hochstetteri) resembles the blue wattle of the Kokako bird, hence the name. It’s featured on the NZ $50 note.  This fungi has Psilocybin effects, is very toxic and if you are found in possession of these magic mushrooms, being a Class A drug, hefty penalties can be applied.

On day 3 we descend to 300 metres, the forest transforms once again and podocarps appear.  Leaving behind stunted herbaceous plants, the forest grows as we slowly descend westward towards sea level passing through some of the most beautiful pristine and untouched forest of Mountain Beech and Rimu,  into Nikau Palm, Southern Rata,  Miro, Kahikatea and Matai.   Native moths appear in the clear moonlight nights pollinating the native trees.

Other broad-leaved species, such as Rata, Mahoe, Kamahi, Pigeonwood, Hinau, Pokaka and Pukatea, appear, adding diversity to the forest.  Undergrowth is richer in the lowland forest.  Kiekie and Kareo twist their way upwards, while many small shrubs jostle for light on the forest floor.  

The final 16 kilometre leg from the Heaphy River mouth to Kohaihai skirts the western coastline.  Here the forest is lush with many large-leaved glossy plants and vines.

My eyes are forever cast upon the ngahere (forest), reading the plants as I walk – it is a library of botanical information.

The cold sea pounds the rocky points. Tight clumps of wiry shrubs huddle together as a testimony to their agility against the powerful western wind. 

Some of the wild native healing plants that appear along the way……..

Karaka – (Corynocarpus laevigatus) growing in groves along the coastal trail where the local maori would come for the annual harvest of these poisonous berries, soaking in salt water, cooking and carefully processing until they were edible. The shiny surface of the leaves can be applied to wounds to aid healing.

Kawakawa – (Macropiper Excelsum) – grows prolifically along the western coast playing a significant spiritual and physical role for the people of Aotearoa helping to cure everything from bronchial infections to dressings for wounds.

Karamu – (Coprosma Lucidia) –  Belongs to same family as the coffee bean and berries from all 5 species can be eaten.  Autumn is a good time to walk in the forest as all the berries are ripe and full of vitamins and micro nutrients.  The pre-european travelled alot at this time as the birds were also fat from feeding on them providing good sustenance for the traveller.  All being a vital food source preparing for the cooler months of winter.  I believe its best to leave the berries for the birds to eat and disperse the seed for their own benefits and for forest regeneration.

Tutae Koau – Wild Celery (Apium prostratum) found growing on a rocky exposed precipice on the west coast.  According to Murdoch Riley in his book Maori Healing and Herbal, the maori knew this plant well by the time Durville, Cook and other European explorers arrived, its a wonderful food plant with diuretic and tonic qualities and was used by the ships crews to help combat scurvy during the early expeditions.

Harakeke – Flax – (Phormium Tenax) – is a very important plant with lots of tikanga around it.  Mainly used for weaving, but the gel at the root base can be used for sunburn, itchy bites, and eczema.  The ingested root is a laxative and must not be used by pregnant women.

Rangiora – (Brachyglottis repanda) – the leaves have a strong antiseptic power and are poisonous if ingested .  Its known as the bushmens friend as it’s a handy replacement for toilet paper.  Its white underside can also be used as paper on which to write.

NZ Native Spinach – (Tetragonia tetragonioides) – very robust, grows well in drought & coastal saline-rich soils, unaffected by bugs or pests, its a ground cover. High in vitamin A and C, a balance of calcium to phosphorous levels makes it ideal for calcium absorption in the body, contains a high level of oxalic acid.

Ongaonga – NZ Tree Nettle – (Urtica Ferox) – Is one of New Zealand’s most poisonous native plants.  Standing up to two metres tall.  Coarsely toothed leaves have numerous white stinging hairs (trichomes) which can inject toxins into the skin, giving rise to pain and a rash.  In extreme cases where animals and people have walked through a large patch – neurological, respiratory problems and convulsions have occurred and death can result.  However, a minor brush can be eased by the juice of the leaves of dock, kawakawa or plantain.

Kareo – Supplejack – (Ripogonum Scandens) – Used for weaving baskets and the end of a cut vine can be left in glass overnight to drain the fluid and drink.

Our native flora and fauna are to be honoured and understood.  This is written with full respect to all that grows from Papatuanuku.  The more we look, the more we understand and the greater our  connection is to our Earth Mother.  The preservation of native wildlife, pristine wilderness areas and National Parks is of utmost importance for this and future generations.

Nga Mihi Nui –  Lisa Williams

Registered Medical Herbalist (NZAMH), Registered Iridologist (IRISNZ – IIPA) 


Maori Healing and Herbal – Murdock Riley

Argan Oil Co-Op, Atlas Mountains, Morocco – By Lisa Williams – Medical Herbalist (NZAMH)

I have always been fascinated with life in Morocco and in 2016 I was able to visit the country and meet with a women’s collective in the anti-Atlas mountains where the cold-pressed, certified organic Argan Oil is produced for BioBalance.  I met the collective’s founders and learnt all about the Argan tree and how the Argan Oil is produced.  This fabulous tree sustains the families in the communities there.

Please watch the video below to see how life is and support the women by purchasing some of the worlds purest Argan Oil through BioBalance.  $1 is donated directly to the women for every bottle purchased – to help build schools, pay teachers and contribute to the wellbeing of their communities…………..

Full Moon Herbal Harvest – January 2019 By Lisa Williams – Medical Herbalist (NZAMH)

It’s been a busy time here at Te Koru harvesting our bountiful crop beneath the January Full Moon of 2019.  We have over 70 different medicinal herbs growing, cultivated, native and wild.

The full moon draws the sap high up into the leaf and aerial parts storing the active constituents. We pick and dry for my Herbal Apothecary making Herbal Tea Blends to suit clients, Tinctures, Flower Essences and Herbal Oils.

Its been an amazing year where all the plants in this rich valley floor food forest have produced exceptionally well and daily temperatures have soared up into the mid 30’s.  We have 7 1/2 acres of river flat where over 100 established fruit and nut trees grow, with all kinds of varieties from Elder Berries, pip and stone fruits to Hazel & Walnut Trees.

I love to see the herbs find their own natural growing place, establishing themselves in the perfect position to suit their needs.  The Mullein, Chamomile, Evening Primrose & Purslane have all benefitted from the summer heat and the Milk Thistle bed is beginning to flower, bulking up with the big black seeds that are used medicinally.  Everything is in prime abundance and nature is in perfect rhythmic harmony….

I’m available for Herbal / Iridology Consultations, Reflexology, Reiki and Rongoa Traditional Bush Medicine Healing.  If you would like a personalised herbal blend, herbal tea, liquid tincture, or Bach Flower Essence blend, please contact me by email: or via my website: 

Nga Mihi Nui

Lisa Williams

Registered Medical Herbalist (NZAMH) Registered Iridologist (IRISNZ – IIPA)

The Spirit and The Plant, by Lisa Williams – Medical Herbalist (NZAMH)

On my recent travels around the United Kingdom,  and Southern France I discovered that many old Churches, Cathedrals, Monasteries and Sacred Places were maintaining herb gardens.  These are a legacy to a time past, before modern medicines.  Here the plants are still honoured and archived for their powerful role during the times of plague and sickness, where the medicinal qualities of  healing herbs were the only defence people had.  From these simple herbs many modern medicines have been developed and synthesised.

My first discovery was the Medicinal Herb Garden at the Southwark Cathedral, the oldest Gothic Building in London, 606AD,  where Shakespeare & Dickens once worshiped.  Here within this vast metropolis lies a potent medicinal herb garden which historically was  part of an Abbey and Hospital to heal the sick.  It’s now guardian to over 50 medicinal herbs which were in use long before the influence of the church and christianity.

Golden Bay Iridology Spirit & The HerbsSouthwark Cathedral – London

Other places of powerful Spiritual Significance that had herb garden sanctuaries were  Iona Abbey and Kilmartin in Scotland,  Kylemore Abbey in Ireland and Cahors Cathedral in Southern France.  These centres of spirituality and plant medicine were at the core of their outlying communities.

These discoveries were a very powerful experience for me,  I identified many herbs that I grow and use in my daily practice in New Zealand, I have documented over 55 of them and their uses below.  I was reminded of their importance and versatility as they grow quietly in their place, while the busy world passes them by.   It was very inspirational standing in these ancient places, where Spiritual and Herbal energy combine to heal.  I was fully aware that I was walking in the footsteps of the old herbalists, where in this very old land, many of the remedies we know of today were developed.

Golden Bay Iridology Spirit & The HerbsIona Abbey – Isle of Iona – Scotland

Seeing all the hardy wild herbs growing in rambling hedgerows along the roadsides was a constant delight.  The United Kingdoms ‘No Spraying Policy’ allows grasses and Native Wildflowers to flourish and provide homes and feeding for important ecosystems and pollinators such as bees and butterflies.  This plays a key role in crop production, an important service for everyone. This is a great contrast to the manicured roadsides in New Zealand.

Golden Bay Iridology Lisa WilliamsKilmartin – Scotland

Today, science and industry are making claim to the the genetics of medicinal plants which have been with us since the beginning of time.  Simultaneously, as the popularity for Herbal and Naturopathic medicine increases, Medical Professionals in Japan and Scotland are prescribing ‘Forest Bathing’ and ‘Nature Prescriptions’ to patients for all manner of ailments.

Ancient cultures the world over heal with both The Spirit & The Plant.  This combination of Light, Belief and Phyto-medicine, is at the fundamental core of our existence as Spiritual / Physical beings.  And is the basis of Rongoa Maori, Native American, Chinese, Ayurvedic Medicine and so on.  Our ability to heal with this understanding is infinite.

In this day and age we must ask – Are we connecting to the Peace,  Power and Miracle of Nature?  And are we utilising our ability to find Wisdom and Guidance by trusting our Inner Portal of Spiritual Light?

Golden Bay Iridology HerbsCahors Cathedral – Southern France

55 common herbs identified and some of their traditional uses over the centuries:

Angelica – Digestive Tonic, improves vitality, protected from the plague

Hollyhock – Demulcent, diuretic, emollient

Myrtle – Anti-inflammatory

Artichoke – Bile production, Liver protection

HolyThistle – Bacterial Infections, Tonic

Nasturtium – Antiseptic, vermifuge

Blackberry – Dysentery, Cholera

Honesty – Mustard Substitute, Culinary

Nettle – Textile plant, increase blood flow

Burdock – Blood Purifier

Hops, Brewing, calming, preservative

Opium Poppy – Soothing pain relief

Calendula – Wounds, Skin Healing

Horsetail – Diuretic, strengthens bones & nails

Parsley – Kidney & Bladder Disturbances

Catnip – Calms the Nerves

Hyssop – Catarrh & Chest Complaints

Rosehips – prevent scurvy, high vitamin C

Celery – Aids Digestion, Urinary function

Ladies Mantle – Reduces Menstrual Bleeding

Rosemary – used for funerals, incense, strewing on floors for fumigation

Chamomile – Relaxant, Digestion

Lavender – cooking, calming, honey pollination

Rhubarb – Laxative

Chives – Nutrient dense, Allium vegetable

Lemon Balm – Calming Digestion

Sage – Longevity & memory restorer

Cleavers – Lymph flow

Lovage – Digestive Organs

St Johns Wort – Battlefield Balm to clean and heal wounds

Comfrey – Wound and Bone Repair

Lungwort – lung disorders

Strawberry – Regulate menstruation, mineral rich

Dandelion – Detoxing, Potassium Rich

Marjoram – Throats, Cough

Sweet Violet – Bruising

Elder – Reduces Fever, Bronchitis

Meadow Cranesbill – Pain relief, anti-inflammatory

Sweet Woodruff – Strewing herb to freshen air

Elecampagne – Post Banquet Indigestion

Meadowsweet – Digestion & Urinary Tract

Tansy – General Tonic, loved by the gypsies

Euphorbia – External Wart Remedy

Milk Thistle – all melancholy diseases

Thyme – Nervous conditions, whooping cough

Fennel – Lactation, Colic

Mints – cooking, aroma, camphor oil

Wall Germander – Gout, Diuretic

Feverfew – reducing fevers, headaches & coughs

Mistletoe – Calms Nervous system and heart

Woad – Blue Dye Herb

Good King Henry – General Tonic

Mugwort – Brewing, poison antidote etc.

Wormwood – Brewing, Worming


  • The Little Herb Encyclopaedia by Jack Ritchason N.D. 3rd Edition
  • Herb Federation of New Zealand
  • Common Herbs for Natural Health – Juliette De Bairacli Levy
  • Materia Medica of Western Herbs for the Southern Hemisphere, Carole Fisher & Gilian Painter