Aloha Authentic: ʻAwa used as medicine for generations

Aloha Authentic

HONOLULU (KHON2) – KHON2’s weekly “Aloha Authentic” segment highlights various roadways across the pae ʻāina so the meaning of their names can be uncovered.

It is time to bring attention to a plant used as medicine in Hawaiʻi for generations.

In the ahupuaʻa of Honolulu, which lies in the moku of Kona on Oʻahu, stands a roadway that brings attention to both land and sea.  

That roadway is Awa St.

In Hawaiian language, the word Awa can be translated to a “port or harbor”.

But if an ‘okina is added in front of the word, then ‘Awa can refer to what other parts of the Pacific call Kava.

‘Awa is a shrub known as a canoe plant in Hawaiʻi, as it is believed to have arrived in the islands via the canoes of the first Hawaiian ancestors.

Utilizing its roots, either fresh or dried, ‘Awa can be chewed or strained into a drink which gives a narcotic result. 

In Lāʻau Lapaʻau, or Hawaiian natural medicine, ‘Awa was consumed to help with a wide range of problems.

Commonly used as a relaxant, ‘Awa helps with insomnia, kidney disorders, chills, headaches, labor pains and menstrual irregulates

In Hawaiian belief, ‘Awa has always had a relationship with the gods.  

When the missionaries arrived in Hawaiʻi, the use of ‘Awa became discouraged.

But by the mid-1900s, ʻAwa nearly faded away into complete disuse.  

Today, most ceremonial circumstances call for the use of the bitter beverage.

Did you know? Now you do!

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