Tui Balms

Tui Balms

The original Tui Bee Balme was created in New Zealand by Colin Isles in the early 80’s. The recipe was donated to the Tui Community, where the operation remains to this day. The brand is named after the Tui, a beautiful bird endemic to New Zealand.

Tui Balms is dedicated to the creation of all-natural and safe balms in the tradition of balms made by ancient cultures.  The word “balm” denotes a fragrant, healing or soothing lotion. Derived from the earlier word “balsam” – a fragrant, aromatic, often resinous substance oozing from various plants, balms are synonymous with gentle healing of the skin. Prior to modern technologies to emulsify water and preserve skin care creams and lotions, almost all skin care products were balms. These balms were made by shamans, elders and the wise women of tribes or cultures who had a long-standing relationship with natural ingredients, especially plants. It is in this tradition that Tui Balms has come to make massage balms, Bee Balm and other natural balms.

Tui Balms rely greatly upon pure essential oils for their active and fragrant properties.  Tui makes balms using only natural source ingredients. The Coop grows its own food organically, using the principles of Permaculture, which members feel provide a practical connection to the balm makers of days gone by.

Traditional balms are different to modern medicines. They can be equally effective and in some cases more so. But they often need to be worked with differently. Balms may need to be applied more frequently than heavy-handed synthetic equivalents. Similarly, it is important to keep in mind that a balm is a gentle healing substance and might need to be applied over a longer period of time than say, modern immune response suppressors, like hydrocortisones.

Balms generally are positive healers. In this sense, they nurture and nourish the skin to health rather than negatively suppressing symptoms or killing off organisms, including those that are beneficial. This is not to say that the balms are devoid of any antiseptic properties The bee balm for instance contains Propolis, which has anti-bacterial qualities. Balms soothe and nurture while being gentle and safe, enhancing and assisting the body’s own natural pathways to health. The essential oils and waxes used are often targeted towards overall effects like relaxation rather than acting as broad spectrum “cure all” silver bullets. The effects these balms have are therefore beneficial holistically. In the same vein, the certified organic NZ beeswax and pure vegetable oils used are ideal carriers of the other active ingredients. They moisten and nourish the skin also, rather than being extra unnecessary material that serves no good purpose. This is in stark contrast to many products that can contain a wide range of ingredients unnecessary to healing and even potentially damaging to health.

View our collection of Tui Balms

Please watch an interesting video on the Tui operation.

A portion of the proceeds by Tui are donated to the Tui Spiritual and Educational Trust


Koru Naturals customer Mugsy loves our Pure Lanolin

flaky dog nosePoor Mugsy suffers from a painful skin condition that causes pieces of his nose to dry out and fall off. After the expensive creams prescribed by his vet failed miserably, Mugsy used his Amazon Prime account to buy a set of four Koru Naturals lanolin pots. Life is so much better now! No more flaking and painful irritation, and he even gets to lick the remaining lanolin off his nose! Mugsy has discovered what other dogs, horses, and humans have also discovered since we started our company in 2001: nothing beats the simple, natural power of our pure pharmaceutical grade lanolin.

I remember watching sheep in Australia during a torrential rain, and feeling like a fool because my new Burberry didn’t even come close to the natural waterproofing of the sheep’s coat. Lanolin forms a layer on the skin that helps retain moisture for many hours after application, resulting in an average 50% decrease in roughness and irritation, far better than either glycerin or petrolatum. Nothing is better than lanolin for skin cracks, abrasions, minor wounds, pain, extreme dryness, and itch. Available from Koru Naturals in 2 oz pots and lip balm tubes.

Coffee plants have flowers? And they don’t smell like coffee beans?

coffee_flowersOur new Flowers and Fire Solid Fragrance contains an extract from very rare coffee flowers. The fragrance of coffee flowers is just wonderfully deep and with none of the overly sweet tones of other fragrances like gardenias. But, when looking for people to test the new fragrance we ran into an unexpected problem: people just don’t believe that coffee flowers don’t smell like coffee beans. “No, thanks, I don’t want to smell like my morning cup of java”. Truth is that coffee flowers don’t smell like coffee at all. But, there was no choice but to change the name to Flowers and Fire from Coffee Flowers and Fire!

image Coffee flowers  Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

New Wild Ferns Manuka Honey Skin Care Line

honey bee on white rose
EssjayNZ / / CC BY-NC-SA

The first products of the new Wild Ferns Manuka Honey line have arrived, and they are just awesome. The line is at least 95% all natural ingredients and packed with the goodness of New Zealand Manuka Honey. Paraben Free, No Mineral Oil, Not Tested on Animals. Featuring all new formulas containing more ingredients from nature and a more natural preservative system. Also, eco-friendly packaging, down to biodegradable inks. Look for the bird symbol on the label, which means at least 90% natural ingredients.

A sad day for the Manuka Honey industry

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Professor Peter Molan, the “founding father” of the manuka honey industry. Over his long and highly productive career at the University of Waikato, Peter published more than 90 papers reporting on the research that led to establishing Manuka Honey as one of the best natural products in the world. Goodbye Peter, and thank you for your gifts to the world.

Wikipedia on Dr. Molan
New Zealand news

Now for something really spooky!

Almost Halloween and the FDA is here to spoil the fun but keep you safe!

Check the ingredients! Halloween makeup kits must be labeled as non-toxic. Eye makeup containing kohl (also called kajal, al-kahl or surma)? Not safe. It may not even be kohl, but some dark pigment not safe for eye use. Imported products are particularly dangerous, and are routinely confiscated by the FDA.

DIY Halloween makeup? Careful. Blueberries will stain your face for days or weeks. Blue face for Thanksgiving anyone? Citrus extracts will sensitize your skin to sunlight,. easily causing burns and blisters. Good to eat doesn’t necessarily mean good for your skin!

Color contact lenses? Yes, if made by a reputable company and approved by the FDA.

Check the FDA pages for the Lucky 13 tips for a safe Halloween!

Emu oil à la soybean oil? No, thank you!

38-365 Fingerprint
bcymet / Foter / CC BY-NC

We all know that a lot of emu oil out there is adulterated by cutting with cheap vegetable oils. Since the cooking oils used are bleached and deodorized, detection is very difficult. Only an analysis of the lipid composition of the oil done by a lab certified by the American Oil Chemists’ Society can tell whether the emu oil is pure. We order these tests for every batch of our oil, and we now provide a copy of the results with every order we ship. Emu Oil has an unique “lipid fingerprint” which is different from the compositions of any other oil. If someone has adulterated the oil, it’s crystal clear from the results. Read more about our tested Grade A Emu Oil!

Rooftop Honey

Filling Her Pollen Basket
BugMan50 / Foter / CC BY-NC

If you go to Fortnum & Mason’s grocery section you’ll find honey produced from hives at the rooftop of their flagship London store. Honey from the rooftop of a Piccadilly department store? Welcome to the urban beekeeping trend. Up to 50,000 F&M bees can fly up to three miles around London looking for yummy flowers to feed on. Walk 8 minutes to the London Stock Exchange and perhaps they will let you see the 100,000 bees that Chief Executive Xavier Rolet keeps on the roof of the building. No London Stock Exchange honey for sale, at least not yet (although this may change if the stock market doesn’t recover soon!).

Not limited to London, urban beekeeping is also thriving in New York and other big cities. Could urban beekeeping become an agricultural force? Not really because there are simply not enough flowering plants in a big city to support large populations of bees. In the meantime, rural bees continue to be in big trouble. Since the end of World Word II habitat loss and degradation has devastated colonies all over the world. Then, a vicious mite that attacks bees has spread from Japan, resulting in big losses of wild bees. Although the science is still controversial, it appears that some pesticides are linked to the decline in bee populations.

In order to keep honey free from chemicals, honeybee populations must be actively managed. A lot of TLC goes into the production of our East Cape Manuka Honey. Also, a lot of labor, which equals higher costs!

Heat: hair’s worst enemy

hair burst
godzax / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Customers often ask why we dislike hair dryers so much. We don’t like them because heat is the hair’s worst enemy (together with harsh dyes). Hair fibers have an inner medulla surrounded by a cortex layer that is protected by several cuticle layers. Cuticles protect hair from the elements. When repeatedly exposed to heat, they gradually degrade, exposing the cortex layer. In spite of the marketing claims you may see, such damage is difficult to repair and often leads to hair that has split ends or gets unmanageable in hot, humid weather, causing it to become frizzy. It’s much better to prevent than to try to repair!

Can shampoos and conditioners protect against heat damage? Yes, if they are good products and you use them correctly. With shampoos the main challenge is to make sure that the ingredients stay on your hair instead of going down the drain. We all had the experience of using shampoos with a long list of wonderful ingredients but that leave our hair dull and unmanageable. Where did those ingredients go? Simple: they went down the drain. For a typical mass market shampoo, less than 1% of ingredients stay on your hair. A waste of money, and an environmental problem.

Good shampoos work because they are formulated to maximize deposition of active ingredients on hair. Scientists working on hair products call this “coacervation” which, to put it simply, means that ingredients stick to your hair instead of washing off. The lower the temperature of your bath or shower, the more effective this process is. Our Emu Oil Shampoo is designed for maximum deposition of ingredients on hair fibers.

Now comes the time to condition. Same story, mainly down the drain. One of the reasons  we like our Emu Oil Conditioner so much is that it’s a leave-in product, so 100% of the ingredients stay on the hair. And with Emu Oil, Keratin, Panthenol, Meadowfoam, and Ivy, the ingredients are just wonderful! And no silicones, which we think belong in the car wash, not on your hair.

Now back to hair dryers. At the high heat setting they will melt the emu oil. If you have to use them, try the low heat setting. Emu Oil Shampoo and Leave-in Conditioner and low heat are your hair’s best friends!

The UMF Honey Association launches Manuka ID Project

Manuka Honey
Nicki-G / Foter / CC BY-SA

Did you know that most manuka honey sold around the world is adulterated? Adulteration takes many forms: 1. dilution with other honeys, or with low-grade manukas; 2. dilution with corn syrup; 3. misrepresentation of the grade (for example, relabeling a 10+ honey as 20+); misrepresenting the grade of different scales (for example, claiming that a 400 MGO® honey is equivalent to 20+, whereas it’s equivalent to about 12). At Koru Naturals we follow two approaches to guarantee purify of our East Cape UMF® honeys. First, each batch is analyzed for grade value at Hill Laboratories in New Zealand, and for absence of contamination at Krueger Food Labs in the U.S. Second, Natural Solutions in New Zealand agreed to be supervised by the Ministry for Primary Industries. MIPI regularly inspects all facilities and batches of honey, and issues export certificates only if the manuka honey is sealed and sent directly from the production facility to the shipping company. Note that the U.S. does not require MIPI export certificates, so most manuka honeys sold in the U.S. don’t have one. We believe that in the interest of consumer protection, this should change.

In order to expand the protection of this vital industry, the New Zealand UMF® Honey Association is now rolling out the Manuka ID Project at Apimondia, the meeting of the International Federation of Beekeeper’s Associations, taking place in Daejeon,  South Korea, in September 2015. At that meeting, Dr. Terry Braggins (General Manager, Analytica Laboratories Ltd, New Zealand), will present a talk entitled “The use of chemical profiling and contemporary data interpretation methods to quantify Manuka honey”. This presentation will be repeated at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and the Shanghai 4th China Health Food Expo.

As the Manuka ID Project advances it will become easier to detect adulteration and verify grades (please see our previous post on the Manuka ID project).