Manuia Samoa: SAMOAN HERBAL MEDICINE

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the health of Ancient Samoans was generally very good. Because of their geographic isolation from the rest of the world, infectious diseases such as measles, mumps, and whooping cough were entirely absent. Also noticeably absent were other infectious diseases like smallpox, cholera, typhoid fever, venereal diseases, tuberculosis, influenza and possibly even the common cold. European mariners and explorers constantly remarked that “at times, Samoans affected cures under the most unlikely circumstances. From their vegetable diet as well as their constant seabathing,their flesh seemed to heal more rapidly than that of others, so that they often survived ailments that would have proved fatal to Europeans. Bullet wounds, severe contusions, and broken limbs seemed to trouble them but little… (Stair, 1897).” Missionaries noted that the treatment of wounds and skin ailments in Samoa was more advanced than it was in Europe, where it was almost always fatal. This is principally because of the unparalleled hygiene practiced by the Samoans.

An Elder Woman (Healer) attending to a patient.

 

Medicinal Plants

In addition to their health-conscious lifestyle, herbal remedies in Samoa are, and always have been, second-to-none. Although too innumerable to name, this article will illustrate a few of the most common and best-known medicinal plants in Samoa; as well as their miraculous healing properties. When one thinks of Polynesian herbs, it often conjures up thoughts of Kava Kava (Piper methysticum): A ceremonial drink with psychoactive and hallucinogenic properties. It is mildly-paralyzing and produces a euphoric but clear-minded state. It has been, and is still in use in many Oceanic cultures, and it is rapidly gaining popularity among Westerners. Currently, it is being imported into Europe to develop commercial medicines; Kava is even prescribed by doctors across the United States for generalized anxiety disorder. However, it is principally-used in Polynesia for enhanced sociability, as an analgesic (painkiller), for the treatment of stomachaches and urinary tract infections.

Skin and Eye Infections

As a first-aid remedy for superficial cuts and wounds, the sap of the Fu’afu’a (Kleinhovia hospita) bark is commonly applied to the affected area to inhibit bleeding. It is also a good remedy for eye infections. The same results are usually sought from the application of Fue Saina (Mikania micrantha). Also, the Futu (Baringtonia asiatica) seed is infused and applied to skin sores, which then disappear shortly thereafter. Gatae (Erythrina variegata) juice extracted from its petiole is often dripped into infected eyes and sties, as well as applied as a plaster to reduce swelling. The Lau’auta (Phymatosorus scolopendria) is one of the most widely used of all Samoan medicinal plants. The infusion of the scraped rhizome and/or crushed leaves is taken as a potion for treating various kinds of inflammation. Similar uses are applied to the skin for treating infected, hard-to-cure wounds.

Other inflammatory disorders are cured by the Lau Ti (Cordyline fruticosa) leaves; which are very commonly used by both healers and lay people by dipping them in water and massaging out various kinds of inflammation, headaches and other body aches. Nonu (Morinda citrifolia) is the most widely-used plant in Polynesia that has a similar, but more extensive use.

Internal & Psychological Problems

La’au Fai Lafa (Fabaceae or Leguminosae) is a purgative, causing the body to purge itself of waste. This treatment is useful in treating intestinal worms. It has long since been known to Western medicine for curing ringworm and other parasitic infections. In fact, it was even given the nickname “ringworm bush.” It is also reputed to be a very effective abortfacient (abortion-inducing agent). Another interesting species is the Mamala (Omalanthus nutans); which Samoan healers use to treat hepatitis. In recent years, Samoan Healers have sent their mixtures to the National Cancer Institute, which isolated prostratin: An experimental but promising anti-HIV Compound. Another herb of distinction is the Lau Papata (Macaranga harveyana), which is taken as a potion for treating digestive tract disorders, intestinal worms and urinary tract problems, acting as a purgative. Also, the intriguing Fisoa leaves (Colubrina asiatica), when infused with water have yielded positive results for centuries

Conclusion

This is by no means a complete list of Samoan herbal medicines; it is only the tip of the iceberg. There are innumerable species of flora that have yet to be discovered and studied scientifically. Even so, the Samoan pharmacopoeia was developed to such a degree that even after long competition with Western medicine it is still the system of choice for many Samoans. In direct contrast to Western allopathic medicine, it is the ultimate aim to determine the root cause of the illness; not simply treating the symptoms of it. The various species of indigenous and imported flora have been used for centuries to treat and successfully cure disease. The perfect balance of Samoan climate and fertile land facilitate the adequate cultivation of valuable, life-saving natural medicines. Traditional Samoan remedies largely trump the medical paradigm of more developed nations. Because they are not engineered in a laboratory from synthetically-concocted chemicals, Samoan herbal medicines work in synergy with the body’s natural healing process without the unintended side-effects of pharmaceuticals. Western medicine tends to discredit the native medical systems it has largely replaced; but there is great wisdom from centuries of experimentation in most native medical practices. When it is all said and done, Samoan medicine only values results, not philosophy. Because of this, the results have been immense.

Written by Alyxzander X. Solomon Published Nation19 Magazine / APDTA® (Survival Issue #4) ©2017

Award winning Samoan Film Director wants to put American Samoa on the map!

AWARD WINNING SAMOAN FILM DIRECTOR QUEEN MUHAMMAD ALI 
IS A FINALIST FOR ARTPLACE AMERICA’S 2017 NATIONAL CREATIVE PLACEMAKING FUND

Extremely competitive national grant program will consider70 projects   

(June 7, 2017) Today, ArtPlace America announced that Queen Muhammad Ali is one of 70 finalists for the 2017 National Creative Placemaking Fund (NCPF).  ArtPlace selected these 70 proposals from 987 applications, making Queen and the community of Faga’itua’s  project “Manuia Samoa” one of just 7% of the projects across the country to make this cut.

ArtPlace’s National Creative Placemaking Fund is a highly competitive national program, receiving 987 applications this year. Investing money in communities across the country in which artists, arts organizations, and arts and culture activity help drive community development change across 10 sectors of community planning and development: agriculture and food; economic development; education and youth; environment and energy; health; housing; immigration; public safety; transportation; or workforce development.

To date, ArtPlace’s National Creative Placemaking Fund has invested $77 million in 256 creative placemaking projects across 187communities of all sizes, including 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

Queen Muhammad Ali proposed “Manuia Samoa”, a solar powered Social Wellness Hub dedicated to the health, nutrition, and creativity of the people on the beautiful, but health epidemic stricken islands of American Samoa. Inspired by traditional Samoan interior design fused with Tsunami resistant eco-friendly contemporary architecture, the 20,000 sq ft social wellness hub will include three major components; art, health, and education.
“The National Grants Program is actively building a portfolio that reflects the full breadth of our country’s arts and cultural sector, as well as the community planning and development field,” said ArtPlace’s Director of National Grantmaking F. Javier Torres.  “Knowing that these projects, and the hundreds of others who applied, are using arts and culture strategies to make the communities across this country healthier and stronger is inspirational.”

“We believe that these projects, when added to our tremendously strong portfolio of demonstration projects, will inspire, equip and connect members of the arts and culture field, the community planning and development field and those who are working to make healthy and equitable communities creatively across the country,” said ArtPlace America Executive Director Jamie Bennett.

The complete list of the 2017 finalists for ArtPlace’s National Creative Placemaking Fund may be found here.

Queen Muhammad Ali (right), American Samoa Gov Lolo Moliga (center), Flo Pereira (left)

About Queen Muhammad Ali

Queen Muhammad Ali is an award winning film director, multimedia artist/activist, public speaker, television and film producer. Before she began directing films, Queen worked as an elementary grade teacher for a private school in Southern California. Her interest in education led her to film-making. She has produced for MGM Television, Showtime, Univision Television, MTV, and VH1. Her work has also been featured in Ebony Magazine, LA Weekly, Huffington Post, KTLA Los Angeles, Washington Post, NY Times, Oprah Winfrey Network, and Yahoo! News.

Queen has traveled the world on various delegations and humanitarian projects and has spoken at several prestigious universities throughout the US. Not only has she been featured in countless national and international media outlets, she is also the recipient of several distinguished awards including a selected speaker at Doc Fortnight 2017: MoMA’s International Festival of Nonfiction Film. A founding member of the nationally distributed magazine, Nation19, Queen published the magazine to educate youth on indigenous empowerment, archaeological research, art, anthropological correctness, Hip Hop culture and social change.

Queen’s name is not by accident. Her Great Grandfather is Paramount Chief Tuli Le’iato of American Samoa whose letters to President Kennedy are on display at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

About ArtPlace America

ArtPlace America (ArtPlace) is a ten-year collaboration among 16 partner foundations, along with 8 federal agencies and 6 financial institutions, that works to position arts and culture as a core sector of comprehensive community planning and development in order to help strengthen the social, physical, and economic fabric of communities.

ArtPlace focuses its work on creative placemaking, projects in which art plays an intentional and integrated role in place-based community planning and development. This brings artists, arts organizations, and artistic activity into the suite of placemaking strategies pioneered by Jane Jacobs and her colleagues, who believed that community development must be locally informed, human-centric, and holistic.

Media Contact:
Hakeem Khaaliq
info@mobileregime.com
909.380.2574