Sunday, May 29, 2011

The “puha” patch - by Monica

Puha, also known as sow thistle, is a green plant often found growing as a weed in your backyard or for sale at your local community or farmers market. This lot was picked on Bobby and David’s property and took 5 minutes to gather. Have a look and see if you have Puha growing on your properties, before you pull it out or weed eat over it, consider picking and cooking it. If you do pick it, serve it with pork bones for a delicious meal for the family. It can be a FREE healthy meal for the family.

If gathering from your backyard, PLEASE make sure that what you're picking is indeed puha - check the photo at the start of the post, take a look online or ask a someone from the iwi. You'll need a large fistful per person. Cut off the heads, any flowers and the bottom of the stems. The stem contains a milky coloured sap; eaten raw, the stem and leaves have a bitter taste.

Cooking your puha

  • Puha can be bitter, cooking does not remove the bitterness but it can be greatly reduced.
  • To prepare puha for cooking, you will need to rub the puha plants together (vigourously) under running water - repeat a couple of times.
  • Add it to meat that is at least ¾ cooked along with potato, kumara and pumpkin; then
  • Serve it to your hungry family

Key Medicinal Uses – from

Puha has considerable health benefits as it is rich in antioxidants and iron. It can be used as follows:

Internally – Puha has been used as a blood purifier. It is also used for hemorrhage, constipation and cervical abnormalities. In Traditional Chinese medicine, it is known to clear heat and toxin from the body, invigorate the blood and stop bleeding, clear damp heat and to cool the blood. In western herbalism, the herb has been used as an abortifacient, to treat cancer, diarrhea and infections.

It is anti-inflammatory and calms the nerves. It is said to be a cure for opium addiction. It is good for the liver and to promote milk production in nursing mothers. It is also a mild laxative and narcotic. The herb has also been used as a gynecological aid, to promote menstruation and to treat fevers. It has sedative qualities. It may also have anti-cancer qualities. This herb has been used as a tonic to support the systems of the body.

Externally – Puha is used for boils and carbuncles. It can stop bleeding and has been used as a poultice (made from the leaves) and as a remedy for toothache. The latex sap can be used to treat warts.

Other Uses – Puha is eaten raw or cooked in salads or other dishes. The milky sap was used as chewing gum by the Maori people of New Zealand. The latex in the stem contains rubber, but not enough to use commercially. The herb is also used as an insecticide

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