Here in Samoa natural healers are a very real thing. Mostly this revolves around massage, and natural herbs. The massage seems to range from deep tissue style to a pinching motion that I have never seen back home. Samoan massage is SO good according to Samoans that it can and will cure anything. There are many things that a little Samoan “fofo” will make much better.
Like the coral reefs of Papua New Guinea, Samoa grows an amazing variety of plants. Each plant has a specific use, and almost no plants are wasted. For burns people quickly gather “nonu” (passion fruit?) leaves and place them on the burn for a minute or so. These leaves are amazingly cool, when pressed to the skin. When they heat up, just lift them off the skin for about 20 seconds and they are cool again. For minor injuries and ailments, these samoan remedies are awesome! However, when things get more serious “fofo” and leaves don’t get the job done. Unfortunately, Samoan people believe they do/will.
While in training one of the neighbors got extremely sick. They eventually took her to the hospital and said she was hooked up to a dialysis machine. They took her home with some meds, and she was feeling better. Well she started to get worse again. It seemed like she had some kidney issues, but I am not a doctor so who knows. Regardless as a white person /”palagi” I was continually asked what I though. I told them to take her back to the hospital and if they didn’t she would surely die. Well, they brought in a few natural healers who chewed up some plants and made a potion of sorts out of the chewed remains and had her drink it. They had a “faifeau”(priest) come as well. He determined she was possessed. An exorcism was planned and happened that night. I was assured by the village that the demon inside her would be removed that evening and she would get immediately better. The morning after the woman died. From that point afterwards people in that village took my advice a little more seriously when they asked for my opinion.
While not being life threatening, boils are a HUGE problem here. If you are like me you have never seem a boil before. In my mind boils were some thing that old people got on their feet that had some crusty old person looking look to them. WRONG. Boils are caused by a full body infection. Samoan people get them all over the place. They appear to be extremely painful, and are very disgusting. First the area swells up, the it gets amazingly swollen. Eventually it bursts with an epic flow of puss and blood mixed together. For all of you who are thinking about some bad zit you had in high school you have no idea. A boil or 2 or 3 as it sometimes is on your leg will leave you immobile for a week or longer when treated samoan style. We were lucky enough to procure these pictures for all of you so you can get an idea.
Anyway, be glad you have western medicine and you are reading this. GO TO THE DOCTOR!