In Hawaiian, health is ‘ola’ meaning ‘life’. In old Hawai‘i, the native Hawaiians relied heavily on the ‘āina (the land) and their akua (gods) for their traditional healing practices, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t progressive and talented healers. They had innovative medical professions, healing medicines and treatments that are still practiced and taught today. Different types of medical professionals included the Kahuna la‘au lapa‘au or traditional practitioners who treated patients with herbs; Kahuna haihai iwi who specialized in setting broken bones; the Kahuna haha who diagnosed illnesses by feeling with the fingers; the Kahuna hoohapai keiki who induced pregnancy; the Kahuna hoohanau keiki who delivered babies; and the Kahuna lomilomi who were skilled massage and physical therapists.
The ancient Hawaiians often used a combination of spiritual and natural treatments to cure illnesses as they believed that the body, mind and spirit were one – therefore you cannot treat the body without treating the mind. One of the most commonly used healing treatments came from the ‘Noni’ or Indian Mulberry plant – prepared as a drink, Noni is used to treat diabetes, high blood pressure, loss of appetite, muscles and joint pain. To this day, many Native Hawaiian grandparents still tell their moʻopuna or grandchildren to drink some Noni in order to feel better!
What ancient healing remedies come from your culture and are still used to this day?