From Polynesian Healers to Health Food Stores Changing

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From Polynesian Healers to Health Food Stores, Table 1 Some Important Pacific Island Medicinal Plants and Likely Indications Based Upon Traditional Usage. Species Probable Indication s, Aleurites moluccana L Willd Euphorbiaceae Seeds oil laxative purgative infection Bark asthma Flowers Fruit Sap. infection fungal Leaves inflammatory, Calophyllum inophyllum L Clusiaceae Leaves ocular irritation infection bacterial fungal inflammation Fruit. seborrhea topical irritation, Centella asiatica L Urban Apiaceae Leaves thoracic pain infection viral fever. Cordyline fruticosa L A Chev Dracaenaceae Young Leaves asthma Leaves fever headache inflammation. Curcuma longa L Zingiberaceae Rhizomes infection bacterial fungal constipation. Morinda citrifolia L Rubiaceae Roots Bark infection bacterial termination of pregnancy Green Fruit. halitosis infection bacterial fungal menstrual cramps arthritis gastric. and oral ulcers toothache indigestion Ripe Fruit infection bacterial. helminthic promotion of lactation purgative Leaves infection. bacterial inflammation, Piper methysticum Forst f Piperaceae Leaves restlessness menstrual irregularities inflammation insect stings.
Root Rhizome headache inflammation muscle soreness tranquilizer. difficulty in urination menstrual irregularities bronchitis respiratory tract. congestion displacement of the womb, Premna serratifolia L Lamiaceae Leaves cough constipation Bark hypertension cardiac insufficiency. Solanum nigrum L Solanaceae Leaves Fruit infection bacterial improved digestion respiratory tract. Syzygium malaccensis L Merr Perry Bark Leaves sore throat bronchitis venereal disease infection bacterial. Tarenna sambucina Forst f Durand Rubiaceae Bark inflammation fever diarrhea stomachache Leaves inflammation. Thespesia populnea L Soland ex Correa Bark cough asthma diarrhea infection fungal viral fever seizures. Malvaceae Fruit infection bacterial viral fungal headache inflammation. Zingiber zerumbet L Sm Zingiberaceae Rhizomes diabetes cough infection viral stomachache inflammation. Burned Leaves infection bacterial,See references 1 7. access to and experience using M citrifolia for thou gods Kamapua a and Pele as evidence that noni fruit. sands of years was once eaten in times of famine, Morton has reviewed the economic uses of various Kamapua a chanted as follows. parts of M citrifolia including the use of fruits and. leaves for food and medicine The references cited by I have come now from Puna. Morton are mostly those written by botanists as part of I have seen the women gathering noni. floral treatments and not those of social scientists or Scratching noni. nutrition scientists with direct observations of human Pounding noni. activities Terra12 reported some nutritional character Marking with noni 15. istics of the leaves and fruit noting good levels of. ascorbic acid 24 258 mg 100 g dried fruit Within Noni bark or roots are employed in Hawai i and. the Pacific Islands a major compilation of informa elsewhere as a dye used on Broussonetia papyrifera Vent. tion on food does not include M citrifolia because it is Moraceae felted clothing so called bark cloth. of so little consequence in modern diets Based upon The inner bark of M citrifolia is scraped or scratched. my conversations with traditional cultural experts off of the tree and pounded in the dye production pro. from Fiji Hawai i Rotuma Samoa Tahiti and Tonga cess The final dye is then painted or marked on the. it seems unlikely that the plant ever played a signifi clothing The passage of the legend can be inter. cant role in ancient diets However Lucas interpreted preted as referring to the process of preparing this dye. elements of the following ancient Hawaiian chant and may have nothing to do with consumption of the. recorded in 1861 about the interactions between the fruit M citrifolia bark and other parts contain a. INTEGRATIVE CANCER THERAPIES 1 2 2002 111,McClatchey. bandage When leaves are heated and wrapped, around an appendage the overlapping leaf will stick.
to itself Macerated or chopped leaves are also com. monly placed within wounds Young green fruits are,the second most commonly used part These are used. primarily in external remedies but sometimes are used. in treatments of diseases afflicting the inside of the. mouth Root bark and inner stem bark are the next, most commonly used parts Each of these are used in. externally apparent inflammatory or infectious pro. cesses Ripe fruits are not commonly used by expert. healers however they are widely used by nonhealers. in home remedies for external wounds and infections. For instance crushed fruits or slices of fruit may be. placed on foot leg or arm infections The logic that is. typically expressed for this use is that the fruit is. thought to draw out the source of the problem This. is not unlike the ancient European concept of a draw. Among the Pacific island communities in which I,have worked those on the Polynesian island of. Rotuma north of Fiji were the most isolated and tra. ditional At the time of my field work 1990 1993, the economy of Rotuma was still largely subsistence. based and traditional medicine served as the primary. Figure 1 Morinda citrifolia tree in Hawai i, health care system In 1991 a survey of the population.
was conducted 18 identifying 69 women and men rec, ognized as having specialized skills and training eg. number of anthraquinones that are responsible for healers Each of the healers were then interviewed. traditional use of the root and stem bark as a dye. 16 about plants and other aspects of their traditions M. Morton speculated that the anthraquinones are the citrifolia known as ura on Rotuma was the most. reason that bark extracts are used to treat ringworm widely reported ingredient in herbal remedies often. Morton refers to a scarcity of the plants in Hawai i being used in conjunction with other species Exam. and references Degener who felt that the plant had ples of remedies employing M citrifolia are listed in. become less abundant Currently noni is not uncom Table 2. mon throughout Hawai i particularly in dryer areas During one 4 month period I lived in a thatched. such as near roads houses on young lava flows and in house with a ura noni tree adjacent to the entry. house yards in dryer leeward parts of each island On doorway The tree produced a modest amount of fruit. Kaua i several valleys have abundant stands that are that never had an unpleasant smell Healers with. harvested for commercial purposes Locations on whom I was working identified that particular tree as. O ahu Maui and Hawai i now have commercial plan having specific medicinal uses that differed from the. tations from which fresh and dried materials are uses assigned to 2 other varieties that they recog. prepared nized At least according to the healers of Rotuman. traditions there is more than 1 species nestled within. the current circumscription of M citrifolia Three vari. Morinda citrifolia in Traditional eties or species recognized by Rotuman healers are. Medicine of Polynesian Cultures 1 trees with small elliptic leaves having many small. M citrifolia is arguably the most important medicinal in fruit arranged at nodes along the branches and thin. Polynesia based upon the number of indications re stems branches whose bark and roots are used for. ported and the breadth of usage across cultures dyes 2 trees with long strap like leaves having. Among the elderly healers whom I have interviewed in larger lightly scented to nonscented fruit thicker. Hawai i Samoa Rotuma and Fiji almost all have dis stems and shorter branches that are used for most. cussed use of this plant The most commonly used part medicinal purposes Table 2 and 3 shorter bushy. is the leaf Varieties with strap like leaves are held trees with large elliptic to round leaves and large. briefly over a fire and then placed over wounds as a strong smelling fruit that are not commonly used. 112 INTEGRATIVE CANCER THERAPIES 1 2 2002,From Polynesian Healers to Health Food Stores. Figure 2 Morinda citrifolia fruit young green fruit with flowers green fruit and mature white fruit. medicinally although the ripe fruit is used in exter lineages Generally elderly healers carry on tradi. nally applied home remedies remedies used by tional practices with traditional beliefs about health. nonhealers and wellness Younger healers may also follow tradi. Rotuman treatments that employ M citrifolia are tional practices or may have become involved in com. mostly topical involving immature fruits or mature mercialization of the traditional health care system. leaves Rotuman healers using these remedies ranged The dichotomy between traditional healers and non. in age from 21 to 80 years old Younger and older heal traditional healers is growing particularly in 2 areas. ers both used M citrifolia however older healers knew incorporation of nontraditional explanations for dis. more kinds of remedies While I was on Rotuma there ease and treatment and charging for services and. was no commercial trade in medicinal plants and no medications. real influence from outside of the culture driving When asked about use of M citrifolia elderly Hawai. them to use plants in other than traditional ways ian healers spoke of it as being a powerful plant that is. Younger healers tended to know less probably due to usually too strong to use Among 6 elderly healers I. lack of experience and training rather than loss of cul interviewed about noni fruit each indicated that they. tural knowledge Younger healers were being trained knew of its use by other Hawaiians but had not learned. by their elders throughout their lives Elder healers to use the fruit in their own particular tradition Each. knew about each other and their individual specialty healer did use the leaves in various remedies and 1. areas Patients were regularly referred from one used young fruit for mouth sores None of the healers. healer to another when it was thought that certain over the age of 50 discussed using fermented fruit as. kinds of expertise were needed Thus the system of described below and only rarely was the fruit. health care in this small culture of only about 2500 described as being medicinal When the fruit was used. local residents on 1 island was unified as a single in internal remedies it was usually the younger green. health care delivery system fruit and not the mature fruit However 1 of the more. The situation is quite different in the much larger commonly reported uses of M citrifolia is external. Hawaiian culture that is spread across 7 major islands application of crushed or sliced mature fruit to skin. with a population of over 300 000 now and probably lesions and wounds These uses are consistent with the. well over 1 million in pre European contact times first 2 in Table 3 as reported from the literature One. Commercial trade in medicinal plants is common in of the students of an elderly healer Mr Russell Ili. Hawai i particularly in non Hawaiian communities who is attempting to closely follow the traditional rem. Although there are prominent healers know who each edies told me that he has also used ripe fruit prepared. other there does not seem to be a strong cohesion as a poultice for treatment of skin infections but that. particularly between islands and between knowledge he was not taught to use the fruit internally by his. INTEGRATIVE CANCER THERAPIES 1 2 2002 113,McClatchey. Table 2 Traditional Rotuman Treatments Employing Morinda citrifolia ura. Disease state Treatment, Sores or scabs around the mouth whether Immature green fruits are crushed and the juice extracted This juice is. associated with mamosa lethargy weight added to the fresh yellow film removed from the seeds of the pinau. loss dry cracked tongue and loss of Thespesia populnea L Corr Serr and the mixture is applied to the. appetite or alone nuj ko but which external sores The treatment will not only alleviate the lesions but will. are persistent also relieve pain associated with the lesions The ura fruits may be. used alone to treat the sores in which case the crushed fruits are. placed in an ununu coconut petiole fiber mesh functionally like cheese. cloth and squeezed until juice is freely leaching from the ununu The. ununu is then daubed on the lesions as needed to apply the juice. Nuj ko sores found within the mouth Immature fruits are crushed and mixed with coconut oil The mixture is. placed in an ununu then wrapped with a banana leaf and heated over. a fire After heating the ununu is squeezed and the resulting warm. solution is drunk In children only a small dose can be given because. higher doses will cause nausea and vomiting Occasionally this is given. in the higher dosage to promote vomiting and thus remove the cause of. the illness This is usually the case if the illness is felt to reside in the. throat and or if there is mucus built up in the throat. Susun topical burns Leaves are applied to the site of the burn until wilted and then are. replaced with fresh leaves The treatment is repeated until the leaves. no longer wither and the fever discontinues, Filo u headaches and fever Leaves are applied and the head massaged with the leaves until the.
leaves are wilted The treatment is repeated until the leaves no longer. wither and the fever and headache discontinue, Neonatal inability to breath immediately Upon delivery of a child that is not breathing the midwife will wrap the. after birth umbilical cord with a pair of ura leaves to promote breathing If. Morinda citrifolia is a bush to small tree Figure 1 growing from 2 to 6 meters tall Distinctive varieties exist with differing leaf morphology Leaves may be rounded elliptic or long and strap like Larger rounded leaves are 15 to 30 cm wide by 20 to 40 cm long Strap like leaves may be as narrow as 10 cm and aslongas60cm

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