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An Account of Samoan History up to 1918

The More Common Diseases from Which the Samoans Suffer

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The More Common Diseases from Which the Samoans Suffer.

The list given below is merely an attempt to enumerate the more common states of ill health that the Samoans periodically and permanently find themselves in. It is not claimed that the list is complete or that it is in all cases correct.

Particulars of the methods of treating the illnesses are not within the scope of this list and for my purpose are not necessary; a few are mentioned to indicate that the Samoans have a somewhat complicated and contrary system of treatment even as is exemplified by our own pharmacopoeia -a hit or miss method.

Fuafua: abscesses on face, hands and feet. Herbs and lancing.
Fula: Different parts of the body swell. High temperature and very painful. Lasts from a week to two months. Young and old suffer. More common in dry season. Not very prevalent. Treated with herbs and any abscesses are cut.
Fe'efe'etolui. Elephantiasis falling on internal organs. Not common, Mortality very high. Herbs taken internally and rubbing with cocoanut oil. Only adults suffer.
Fe'efe'elauvai. Dropsy - Medioine from herbs and rubbing with oil. Not common.
Gugu: Rheumatism. More noticeable in cold weather. Young people as well as old suffer. Quite common. Principally in joints. Rubbing with oil.
Isupu: Ulceration of nose even to extent that nose is entirely eaten away. Not common.
Lomatua: Boil in armpit. Rubbing with oil and medicine from herbs.
Lasomimi: Elephantiasis in testicles or scrotum. Common amongst young and old. Reaches enormous proportions and in one case page 2 operated upon by Br Thieme eightyfour pounds weight/of spongy material was removed. (see photos of operation.)
Lasomimifu: The same disease in women. In both men and women the disease is treated sometimes by piercing the swelling with the bone of a flying fox (Pe'a.) and applying herbs and water externally. Disease is not painful.
Lafa: Ringworm: Prevalent in former times but less at present. Leaves of trees chewed and rubbed on ringworm. (name of tree La'aufailafa.) Young and old suffer.
Maiafi: Gonorrohoea: Since coming of white man, disease is common. Drink medicine made from kava and pepper. Not known before coming of white man.
Maiafi papala: Syphillis; treated the same as above. Not common but increasing in prevalence.
Ma'inifo: Toothache: The bark of a tree is pounded and mixed with water and held in mouth. Bad teeth are the exception amongst Samoans although a rapid change for the worse is noticeable.
Manavamamao: Constipation. Drink medicine made from herbs and rubbing with cocoanut oil. Very common.
Maifaasua: Boils. Rubbing with cocoanut oil and cutting. Extremely common in young and old.
Mamapala: Tuberculosis of lungs. Various native medicines tried. A disease which has developed since the advent or the white man. Not common at present but increasing rapidly.
Mulisi or Manava tata: Diarrhoea. Common amongst young and old. Drink medicine made from herbs.
Mumu: Elephantiasis. Most common in legs, feet, arms, breasts, scrotum. Young and old are afflicted with the disease which sometimes assumes astonishing proportions. Commences as a fever and is ultimately associated with gradual swelling of the part afflicted which swelling remains permanent.
Treatment is by native medicines and rubbing with occasional puncture by sharp instrument.page 3
Ma'i mata: Sore eyes. Swell and very painful. More prevalent in dry season. Treat with medicine made from leaves of trees, Lasts two weeks to a month. All suffer from this complaint.
Oloã: Sores. Very painful. The Samoans believe that they are caused by the bite of Nifoloa, a cannibal God who dwells at Falelima, Savai'i. Treated with medicien made from leaves of trees. Very common and afflicts young and old.
Patõ: Scrofulous swellings and sores under and to side of jaws. Rub with cocoanut oil.
Pueia: Ague and is usually associated with mumu or elephantiasis. Body is covered with many mats or clothing and hot water applied. Common.
Po'u: Pimples covering body. Medicine made from leaves of trees.
Patu: Fatty tumour. Cut and treated by rubbing with oil. Not common and sometimes of large size.
Sanatoto: Dysentery, Medicine made from leaves of trees. Epidemics are fairly frequent now and mortality is heavy. Children suffer chiefly. Occurs mainly in dry season.
Silailagi: A form of carbuncle usually occuring on the head. Very painful and the Samoans will not out them. Treat by rubbing and applying leaves. Common.
Silailalo: Same thing near anus. Extremely painful. Treated the same way.
Toma: Yaws. Very common amongst young children. Treatment is to scrape sores with a shell and cover with medicine made from leaves of trees.
Tulitã: A diseased state of the bladder. Native medicine taken internally. Not common.
Tale: Coughs and colds. A medicine is compounded from the leaves of trees and taken inyernally. Common.
Supa: Palsy: Treated by application of native medioine. Not common.
Tutuli: Deafness: Hot oil and rubbing. Not common.page 4
Taligatigã: Earache: Cocoanut oil and rubbing. Common.
Ufatomo: A form of piles: pressed back with leaf of nonu tree. Of ten found in young children but would appear to disappear of own accord. Adults suffer frequently with more permanent form.
Tu: Eye disease (pterygium). Very prevalent. Treated by application of native medicines. Young and old suffer.
Lepela: Leprosy: Not common.
Fuafuamamomo: Sore throat. Rubbed with oil. Common.
Tane: Skin disease: Native medicien rubbed on.
Mavaevae: Cracked skin particularly on hands and feet. Treated by allowing the smoke from burning horse dung to penetrate into cracks. Common. Men and women.
Atiloto: Shingles: Native medicien taken internally. Common.
Faaifoluga: Internal structure of nose decays. Treated by native medicine. If not attended to eventually turns into Isupū.
Fatupei: Heart disease.
Palapalaū: Itch between toes caused by mud. Chewed leaves put on.
Pagi: Palsy in fingers. Uncommon.
Polepolevale: Palpitation of heart.
Puga: Disease of the groin. Common.
Tali Umi: Whooping cough. Uncommon.
Seln: Asthma. Fairly common.
Faamai: Influenza. Periodically and sometimes very severe.
Misela: Measles. Infrequent epidemics.