Hawaiian healing plants are prominently featured in the design of the John A Burns School of Medicine campus in Kaka`ako, Honolulu. These traditional medicines serve as an inspiration for modern medical practice, education and research in Hawaii. The following examples of Hawaiian traditional medicines were used as the theme for our website:
`Awa – Piper methysticum
`Awa, also known as Kava, is the cherished and sacred narcotic of the Hawaiian culture. Farmers offered `awa to the gods so their crops would be bountiful. Canoe builders would offer `awa when choosing a koa log for a canoe. `Awa was used by all classes of people, especially any whose strenuous work left them stiff and sore.
Kukui – Aleurites moluccana
The Kukui’s most common use is as a laxative or in high doses, a cathartic or purge. Any part of the plant can be used for this purpose. The fresh leaves are used for swelling, deep bruises and other injuries. The nut is used to cure external ulcers and sores. Charcoal from the shell is used for a sore throat.
`Ohi`a Lehua – Metrosideros polymorpha
The bark of the `Ohi`a lehua was used to feed children who had contracted a contagious illness. The flowers were used to relieve the severe pain of childbirth. The young leaf buds or liko were also used as a medicine.
Popolo – Solanum americanum
The leaves of the Popolo are chewed or brewed into a tea. The juice of the chewed leaves can be rubbed on an infants joints to assist in strengthening. It can also be used on the wolf spot or pike po`o on a newborn baby.
Excerpted from a plaque in the Hawaiian medicinal garden at the John A. Burns School of Medicine. Compiled by Mona-Ann Cardejon, Kapio`lani Nee and Kalani Brady. Photos are courtesy of Dr. Gerald D. Carr.