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Hawaiian Medicinal Plants

Sources in the Hawaii Medical Library



Abbott, Isabella Aiona. Laau Hawaii: Traditional Hawaiian Uses of Plants. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1992. 163 pages, illus, maps. (SPCOLL QK 473 H4 A33 1992)
Chapter 13 provides an overview of plant use and short descriptions of important traditional Hawaiian medicinal plants including the scientific name, the Hawaiian name, English common name and uses. Includes appendix of plant names, chapter notes, extensive bibliography, and index.

Gutmanis June. Kahuna La'au Lapa'au: The Practice of Hawaiian Herbal Medicine. Translations by Theodore Kelsey; illustrated by Susan G. Monden. Norfolk Island, Australia: Island Heritage, 1977. 267 pages, col. ill. (SPCOLL WB 925 AH3 G984 1977)
This work examines many aspects of Hawaiian herbal medicine. One chapter gives prescriptions for specific conditions and another consists of a reproduction of a kahuna's notebook from the 1870's with an English translation. Includes glossaries, bibliography of written sources and informants, and index.

Handy, E. S. Craighill, Mary Kawena Pukui and Katherine Livermore. Outline of Hawaiian Physical Therapeutics. Millwood, NY: Kraus Reprint, 1976; reprint of Bernice P. Bishop Museum Bulletin No. 126, 1934. 51 pages. (SPCOLL WB 50 AH3 H236o 1934a)
Ten pages are devoted to discussion of Hawaiian medicinal plants including preparation techniques. A glossary of Hawaiian terms for medicinally used plants, minerals and animal substances is also included. Has bibliography, but no index.

Hawaiian Medicine Book: He buke laau lapaau. Translated by Malcolm Naea Chun. Honolulu: Bess Press, 1986. 72 pages. (SPCOLL WZ 309 C559h 1986)
This has both the original Hawaiian text and an annotated English translation of one of the earliest native Hawaiian accounts of medicinal practices. Includes glossaries and bibliography, but no index.

Kaaiakamanu, D. M. and J. K. Akina. Hawaiian Herbs of Medicinal Value. Translated by Akaiko Akana. Honolulu: Territorial Board of Health, 1922; facsimile reprint, Honolulu: Pacific Book House, 1976. 74 pages. (REF QV 766 K11h 1972)
Descriptions of preparation and dosage for 169 medicinal plants are presented alphabetically by Hawaiian name. Most entries include a description of the plant as well as a the conditions for which it was used. There are no illustrations, but some of the entries include the botanical name of the plant making it easier to identify the plant discussed. There is no index or table of contents, but this is a major primary source for information available at the early part of the century.

Kamakau, Samuel M. Ka Po'e Kahiko: The People of Old. Translated from the newspaper Ke Au `Oko'a by Mary Kawena Pukui; arranged and edited by Dorothy B. Barrere; illustrated by Joseph Feher. Bishop Museum Special Publication 51. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1964. 165 pages. (SPCOLL DU 624.5 K15p 1964)
Classic work based on material originally printed in the Hawaiian language newspaper Ke Au `Oko'a during the late 1800s. The section on Medical Practices (Part 5) includes details on the use of medicinal plants, often including information on the part used, but with very few specifics concerning preparation. In the text, plants are referred to by their Hawaiian names, but the work includes a glossary which correlates the Hawaiian to the botanical names. The discussion is organized by the condition being treated and the index does not include specific plant names making it difficult to locate information concerning specific plants. Includes bibliography.

Krauss, Beatrice H. Plants in Hawaiian Culture. Illustrated by Thelma F. Greig. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1993. 345 pages. (SPCOLL QK 473.H4 K91p 1993)

Native Hawaiian Medicines. Translated and edited by Malcolm Naea Chun. Honolulu: First People's Productions, c1994. 276 pages. (SPCOLL QV 766 K11h 1994)
This is a newly revised and enlarged translation of Hawaiian Herbs of Medicinal Value, by D.M. Kaaiakamanu and J.K. Akina. This translation includes cultural and religious material omitted from the original work, which was published in 1922 by the Territorial Board of Health. This translation also includes a table of contents, a botanical nomenclature, an index, and a list of references.

Stemple, Ellen K. Hawaiian Medicinal Plants: An Annotated Bibliography. 1989. 18 pages. (REF QV 770 AH3 S824h 1989)
A comprehensive guide to English language published materials through 1989 available at the University libraries. Items are grouped into "Most Useful" and "Less Useful Sources" and the annotations provide a guide to evaluating relevance of the various sources.

Whistler, W. Arthur. Polynesian Herbal Medicine. Lawai, Kauai: National Tropical Botanical Garden, 1992. 237 pages. (REF QV 770 W576p 1992)


Auwae H. Papa Henry Auwae po'okela la'au lapa'au: master of Hawaiian medicine. Interview by Bonnie Horrigan. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 6, no. 1 (January 2000): 82-88.

Bushnell, O. A., Mitsuno Fukuda, and Takashi Makinodan. "The Antibacterial Properties of Some Plants Found in Hawaii." Pacific Science 4 (July 1950): 167-183.
Scientific study using standard in vitro antibacterial screening techniques to evaluate 101 native and introduced plants used in Hawaiian herbal medicine. Plant selections were based on material available on Oahu, but many of the major medicinal plants were tested. Includes a number of tables indicating level of antibacterial activity and correlating the scientific, Hawaiian and English names for the plants and notation concerning type of traditional use and references.

Davison, Charles. "Hawaiian Medicine." The Medical Age, May 25, 1899. Reprinted in The Queen's Hospital Bulletin 4, no. 3 (August 1927): 2-5 and 4, no. 4 (September 1927): 1-4. (Archives Box 48, H I 462)
This is a reasonably balanced turn-of-the-century account of physical and spiritual preparation of Hawaiian herbal medicines.

Hope, Bradley E., Douglas G. Massey, and Gisele Fournier-Massey. "Hawaiian material medica for Asthma." Hawaii Medical Journal 52, no. 6 (June 1993): 160-166.
Summary of the literature concerning Hawaiian medicinal plants used for this condition. Extensive reference list.

Kobayashi, Joy "Early Hawaiian Uses of Medicinal Plants in Pregnancy and Childbirth." Journal of Tropical Pediatrics and Environmental Child Health 22 (December 1976): 260-262.
A succinct review of existing information about herbal medicines used by Hawaiians during pregnancy and childbirth. Where possible, the author gives both the Hawaiian and botanical names for specific medications. Includes references.

Norton, Scott A. Herbal Medicines in Hawaii from Tradition to Convention. Hawaii Medical Journal 57, no. 1 (January 1998): 382-386.
A review of kava, chaulmoogra, and their uses in ancient Hawaiian medicine and in more recent times.

Tabrah, F. L. and B. M. Eveleth. "Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Ancient Hawaiian Medicine." Hawaii Medical Journal 25, no. 3 (Jan-Feb 1966): 223-230
This article focuses on the pharmacologic activity of several Hawaiian medicinal plants and fish poisons including `awa, puakala, hinahina, and noni. Includes diagrams of chemical structures of active compounds; references.



Larsen, Ivar J. Ancient Hawaiian Medicine. 1966. 90 pages, photocopy. (SPCOLL WZ 309 L334 a 1966a)
"A thesis submitted to the American Orthopedic Association in partial fulfillment of the requirements for membership." Chaper V, "Medical Practices", contains passing references to herbal aspects of traditional medicine, but the emphasis of the work is on paleopathology. Includes table of contents and bibliography, but no index. The original is at the Bishop Museum Library.

McBride, L. R. Practical Folk Medicine of Hawaii. Hilo: Petroglyph Press, 1975. 104 pages. (REF WZ 309 M119p 1975)
A popular account of contemporary Hawaiian herbal remedies. The introduction provides a brief summary of the history of Hawaiian folk medicine.

McBride, L. R. The Kahuna: Versatile Mystics of Old Hawaii. Hilo, Hawaii: Petroglyph Press, 196?. 68 pages, ill. (REF WZ 309 M119k 196?)
The section entitled `Healers' (pp. 42-50) includes abbreviated information on medicinal plant use. Includes short bibliography; no index.

Stone, Robert B., and Lola Stone. Hawaiian and Polynesian Miracle Health Secrets. West Nyack, NY: Parker Pub. Co., Inc., 1980. 270 pages. (SPCOLL WB 50 AH3 S879h 1980)
Uneven and generally superficial treatment of folklore of Hawaiian medicinal and food plants. Plants covered include later introductions from all over the world. The authors do not include botanical names and are confused on some issues of geographic origins. No bibliography or index.

Bibliography prepared: January 5, 1994
Eileen Herring
Reference Department
Hawaii Medical Library
Bibliography updated: March 20, 2002

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