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Hawaiian Healing Plants - Learning center

A'ali'i (Hopseed Bush)/Sapindaceae
Soapberry family : 'A'ali'i is indigenous to Hawaii and is found throughout the tropics and subtropics. It is an extremely variable plant and ranges in size from small shrubs to medium sized trees. 'A'ali'i occurs naturally from the coast into interior areas and at elevations from sea level to over 6500 ft. The leaves are used to treat rash, itches and other skin diseases.
Awa (Kava)/Piperaceae
Pepper family: This medium sized shrub is a Polynesian introduction to Hawaii. It is probably indigenous to eastern Malesia*. The Hawaiians recognize a number of forms which are distinguished by stem color and shape, and by leaf size. The garden contains both green stem and black stem plants. The root is the part most often used in healing, but sometimes the bark and roots are used. It is used in the treatment of headaches, muscle pain, and to induce sleep. It is also a treatment for general debility, chills, colds and other lung problems, such as bronchitis and asthma.
Awapuhi (Shampoo Ginger)/Zingiberaceae
Ginger family: A Polynesian introduction to Hawaii which has since naturalized, this ginger has long been cultivated in southeastern Asia and is possibly originally from India. 'Awapuhi is a deciduous herb which generally grows about two feet tall. Ashes of the leaves are used to treat cuts and sores. The root is used in the treatment of ringworm and sprains and bruises. The root is also used in treatment of headache, toothache and stomach ache.
Kalo (Taro)/Araceae
Philodendron or Aroid family: Kalo is a perennial plant with large, distinctive leaves. Kalo is presumed to be native to India. It is cultivated throughout the tropics and was brought to Hawaii by the Polynesian settlers. It is the single most important plant in Hawaiian culture. The cut raw rootstock is rubbed on wounds to stop bleeding and the cut raw petiole is used to relieve the pain and prevent swelling of insect bites and stings. The corm is used to treat indigestion and as a laxative. The leaves are used in the treatment of asthma. Six Hawaiian kalo cultivars are being grown in the garden: poni, naioea, pi'iali'i, mananea, mana lau loa and mana 'ulu. The first four cultivars are listed in Outline of Hawaiian Physical Therapeutics by Handy, Pukui and Livermore (1934) as having been used specifically for healing.
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