Traditional Hawaiian Healing - the Art and Practice of Lā'au Lapa'au
For centuries, healing practitioners throughout the islands of Hawai’i have practiced the art of healing through lā’au lapa’au. Honua harnesses the power of this practice and Hawaiian botanicals in each of our products.
Lā’au lapa’au embraces the use of plants as healing treatments for minor and major maladies, while uniting the physical, mental and spiritual through a holistic approach to wellness. Hawaiian healers do not separate mind from body and spirit but rather see them as intertwined. Native Hawaiians believed illnesses could also come from supernatural forces, so treatments often included prayer in addition to strict protocols around plant and herb cultivation.
"Lā’au Lapa’au is: Solving the problems of body, mind and spirit. In Hawaiian Healing the mental is not separate from the spiritual and physical. Rely on spiritual insight and most of all, guidance from Akua.” ~Papa Henry Auwae, Po'okela Kahuna, master of Hawaiian healing
Some of the most used plants in la’au lapa’au include
- ‘Awapuhi (ginger)
- Kō (sugarcane)
- Kukui (candlenut)
- ‘Ōlena (turmeric)
Evidence shows us that noni, ‘awa, ‘uhaloa, and ‘ōlena can treat inflammation and autoimmune disease. Honua founder, Kapua Browning, turned to these plants when creating the first Honua products - ‘Ōlena Beauty Oil and Aloha Youth Serum (which has ‘ōlena, kukui….and early versions even had ‘awa but we’ve moved away from ‘awa because its effects aren’t fully appreciated in other regions, leading to restrictions around usage).
In our native Hawaiian culture, lā’au lapa’au has been practiced for centuries - even millennia! However, it has not always been easy for kahuna (i.e. Hawaiian practitioners) to study and practice. In the early 1800s, foreign missionaries arrived in Hawaii and these native healing practices were...different and misunderstood, causing widespread fear among newcomers. Believing the practice to be black magic, the foreign missionaries were successful in banning its practice.
Fortunately, some brave Kahuna continued to practice in secret, sharing their knowledge and experience. In the early 1900s, they were recognized as healers but required to obtain a license through the Hawaii Medicine Board, though this only lasted until 1959. In 1988, the United States Congress passed the Native Hawaiian Health Care Act, which recognizes lā’au lapa’au as a traditional medicine.
Although there has been a renewed interest in traditional Hawaiian healing, today, only a few kahuna remain.