Herbal Horopito

Forest Herbs Research, the research company behind Kolorex, combines the breakthroughs of modern science together with the wisdom of traditional healing to bring Horopito to the world. Since the 1970’s we have been the driving force behind modern-day use of Horopito. 

What is Horopito?

Horopito (Pseudowintera colorata) is an ancient shrub, over 65 million years old. It is endemic to New Zealand, and it is known as the pepper tree due to the hot peppery taste of the leaves. It is a slow growing plant and prefers the dappled light in the New Zealand rainforest. It is a member of the primitive Winteraceae family, and as one of only three species within the Pseudowintera genus, Horopito’s survival is attributed to the powerful antioxidant content of its red-tinged leaves and its fiery hot taste.

Polygodial is the key active in Horopito that is responsible for its health benefits including its antifungal activity. 

Pioneering research showed that the polygodial in Horopito was stronger and faster acting than amphotericin B (a common pharmaceutical antifungal)¹. This scientific discovery was a key driver for Forest Herbs Research to continue its own research into this amazing herb and cultivate the only commercial plantation of Horopito globally.

Traditional use of Horopito

Mãori may have been the first to use Horopito as part of rongoā, traditional Mãori medicine. Horopito was referred to as “the Maori painkiller”, and the steeped leaves were used as a poultice or topical treatment for skin conditions such as ringworm, rashes, or on cuts and burns. When European colonists brought their foreign diseases to Aotearoa, Horopito served as a treatment for STDs or paipai. (The same colonists used it to treat their diarrhoea.) As far back as 1848, Horopito is documented in the treatment of skin diseases such as ringworm, and also for venereal diseases, and gastric upsets.

It’s only in the last couple of decades that scientists have investigated why these remedies worked so well. Science has revealed the reason behind Horopito’s healing powers which include antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-viral properties. 

Horopito is the hero in natural healthcare products that treat conditions such as vaginal thrush, jock itch, athlete’s foot, candida and other digestive imbalances. Horopito has a shining reputation globally for providing fast, effective and natural relief from fungal overgrowth. 

For more information on Horopito’s use today,  view the herbal monograph.

Antimicrobial Properties of Horopito.

Antifungal - Horopito strongly inhibits many species of fungi ²,³, most notably Candida albicans which is often the cause vaginal thrush.  It works by the bioactive Polygodial compound damaging the permeability barrier of the yeast cell and causing it to leak. This effectively destroys the cell.

Horopito’s ability to kill Candida has been found to be  faster acting and stronger than the pharmaceutical antifungal Amphotericin B and is equal to or better than another pharmaceutical antifungal called Itraconazole.⁴,⁵

Horopito creams, washes and supplements are often used in the treatment of vaginal thrush.  

A webinar for practitioners about Horopito as a novel therapy for Candida overgrowth and candidiasis can be viewed here.

Anti-viral - Horopito can kill the virus that causes cold sores (Herpes Simplex Virus-1). In patented research, Forest Herbs Research found that Horopito has exceptional anti-viral properties.  Consumer research has found Horopito ointment is an effective cold sore treatment.  

Antibacterial - Horopito is an all-rounder when it comes to its anti-microbial powers. In addition to its antifungal and anti-viral properties, polygodial has antibacterial activity against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria,⁶ making it an excellent choice as an all-round anti-microbial agent. 

Horopito commercial cultivation

The only commercial plantation in the world to grow and extract Horopito is in Golden Bay, New Zealand, is run by Forest Herbs Research. The plantation is nestled at the top of New Zealand’s South Island, where it is surrounded by pristine native forest. The growing conditions are completely unique, providing all the elements Horopito needs to thrive. 

The farm is planted with proprietary strains of Horopito that were selected for their high level of polygodial (the active in Horopito). Each step of the supply chain is tightly managed to ensure freshness, quality, and potency from farm to customer. 

The passion for plants extends to protecting the environment where eco-friendly, sustainable farming techniques are used. Added to this commercially grown Horopito also protects wild populations as wild harvesting can endanger sensitive forest eco-systems.   

Quality Assurance & Polygodial.

It is important to ensure that the Horopito used in the production of natural health products and pharmaceuticals is active in polygodial.  

Forest Herbs Research has developed proprietary techniques in its Horopito production to ensure the highest levels of polygodial are retained.  Extraction techniques have been carefully developed and focused on maintaining polygodial activity.   

Polygodial stability can be easily affected by a number of factors including harvesting, storage, and formulation excipients, therefore careful management of all these factors is required. It is important to note Polygodial is not stable within alcohol solutions.

The Horopito Logo is the gold standard for authentic, premium quality, active Horopito that has been independently tested for polygodial activity.

This logo provides assurance that the Horopito is sustainably sourced from Forest Herbs New Zealand farm and is active in polygodial to deliver effective dosage levels.  





1. McCallion RF et al. Antibiotic compounds from New Zealand plants, II: polygodial, an anti-candida agent from Pseudowintera colorata. Planta Med 44:134 1982.

2.  Lee SH et al. In vitro antifungal susceptibilities of Candida albicans and other fungal pathogens to polygodial, a sesquiterpene dialdehyde. Plant Med. 65:204-8. 1999.

3.  Nakajima, J., Papaah, P., Yoshizawa, M., Marotta, F., Nakajima, T., Mihara, S., & Minelli, E. (2007). Effect of a novel phyto-compound on mucosal candidiasis: Further evidence from an ex vivo study. Journal of Digestive Diseases. 8, 48-51.

4.  Kumari, A., Bishier, M. P., Naito, Y., Sharma, A., Solimene, U., Jain, S., Yadava, H., Minelli, E., Momella, C., & Marotta, F. (2011). Protective effect of an oral natural phytonutrient in recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis: a 12-month study. Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents, 25 (4), 543–551.

5.  Chopra V., Marotta F., Kumari A., Bishier M.P., He F., Zerbinati N., Agarwal C., Naito Y., Tomella C., Sharma A., Solimene U. (2013) Prophylactic strategies in recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis: a 2-year study testing a phytonutrient vs itraconazole. Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents, 27(3):875-82.

6.  McCallion RF et al. Antibiotic compounds from New Zealand plants, II: polygodial, an anti-candida agent from Pseudowintera colorata. Planta Med 44:134 1982.

7.  Kubo, I., Fujita, K., Lee, S. H., & Ha, T. J. (2005). Antibacterial Activity of Polygodial, Phytotherapy Research, 19, 1013-1017


Woman picking horopito from plantation in Golden Bay, New Zealand

Our world

The story begins with research into the anti-fungal properties of New Zealand's indigenous herb, Horopito. Forest Herbs Research discovered that Horopito, a rainforest dweller for 65 millions years, had developed a unique bio-active compound that helps the plant ward of fungal attacks in its damp, forest habitat.  

Peter Butler, the founder of Forest Herbs Research Ltd, has dedicated his life
to studying and growing Horopito in Golden Bay, New Zealand



The Kolorex plantation, set in a temperate rain forest adjacent to a million acres of pristine National Park.

Nature Knows Best

To date more than 30 years of R&D has gone into sustainably growing a potent form of Horopito and learning how to extract it's bio-active compound Polygodial.

We transform nature's wisdom into the Kolorex women and men's intimate care collection, derma range and gut care products.

The Kolorex collection adheres to the highest standards of what is truly natural. The product range contains no parabens, mineral oils, synthetic preservatives, synthetic fragrances or SLS/SLES. Instead, Kolorex uses a natural Vitamin E preservative system.

Horopito plant

our eco warrior

horopito fights back

The leaf colouration shows the Polygodial, the herb's bio-active ingredient, being sent by the plant to fight a fungal attack or insect attack.