Tānekaha is a slow-growing evergreen conifer endemic to New Zealand. Its common name ‘Celery Pine’ comes from the celery-like foliage of this graceful tree. Historically, Tānekaha bark was used as a tanning agent and for the production of a reddish-brown dye.
Tānekaha was used medicinally as an astringent and antimicrobial agent by Māori people and early European settlers. Decoctions of the inner bark were used in the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery and internal haemorrhage. Externally, it was used as a healing remedy for burns as well as for boils, abscesses and septic infections. The anti-microbial action of tannic acid has been well documented, and it has been shown to be effective against a range of bacteria, yeasts and viruses.
The combination of astringent and antimicrobial actions makes this plant an ideal addition to mouthwash formulations. The strong astringent action helps tighten and heal the gum tissue while the anti-microbial action helps kill the bacteria responsible for dental caries, as well as conditions such as gingivitis and periodontal disease. In vitro tests conducted on preparations containing a combination of Mānuka (Leptospermum scoparium) and Tānekaha were shown to be effective against the common oral bacteria Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus mitis, and Actinomyces naeslundii.
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