Pharm.D. (six years)

Second Major



Lausier, Joan M

Advisor Department

Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences


Iyo, Janis (University of Hawai'i at Hilo)




Medicinal Plants, Alternative Medicine, Gardening, Hawaiian Culture, Ancient Healing

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


The study of medicinal plants in the western world tends to focus on the isolation and elucidation of natural products that have bioactive characteristics and potential for pharmaceutical formulation. However, the utilization of medicinal plants in cultures that still practice ancient medicine, such as Hawai’i and other Pacific Island nations, involves the use of whole plant parts in conjunction with spiritual rituals to heal illnesses and ailments. In order to gather a different perspective of the use of plants in medicine, a diverse investigation of “Lā’au Lapa’au,” or the Hawaiian art of healing through the use of plants and spiritual practices for the mind, body and spirit was performed by immersion into the Hawaiian culture as a result of studying during an exchange semester in Hilo, Hawai’i.

Since Captain Cook’s arrival on the Hawaiian islands in 1778, westernization of the Hawaiian archipelago has caused a drastic decrease in Lā’au Lapa’au, as industrialization and introduction of invasive species has threatened indigenous and endemic plant populations, and laws restricting Hawaiian language has prohibited the oral transmission of ancient spiritual practices. After learning about a diverse variety of medicinal plants, their uses, and their significance to the Hawaiian culture through independent research, coursework, Hawaiian locals, and a week-long service project removing invasive species and planting native seedlings, it was decided to preserve a collection of plants by creating a “Mala Lā’au Lapa’au,” or “Hawaiian Healing Garden” on the University of Hawai’i at Hilo Agricultural farm. The garden was established by identifying an 85 x 93 ft plot on the agricultural farm, selecting an inventory of plants to be grown, gathering the plants from direct harvest from nature or individual donations, and planting of the desired species. 24 species were planted in different forms (as cuttings, seeds, seedlings, or whole plants) into pots and kept in two locations, a greenhouse and mist house, to grow before being transplanted to the ground. Preparation of the plot by removal of inhabiting trees, herbicide application, and fresh mulching was to be performed, but inclement weather postponed the process to after my departure from the Big Island. However, the establishment of caretakers to initiate, tend to, and expand the garden occurred, and as of recent weeks, the transplant of species from the greenhouses to the plot and addition of new species has commenced and will continue for generations to come.