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Ethnology of Tokelau Islands

Medicinal Treatment

Medicinal Treatment

Wounds are washed out with water and covered with a ball of maile leaves which have been previously chewed and mixed with saliva. If the wound bleeds profusely it is covered with taususu leaves as a styptic compress and is then bandaged with narrow strips of plaited kie pandanus.

Abscesses are brought to a head with hot compresses of nonu leaves cut into small pieces and wrapped in the fibrous stipule (kaka) of a coconut leaf. The compress is dipped into heated coconut oil and gently pressed around the eruption to force out the pus. A little of the compress is left on the head of the abscess while the massaging and pressing is continued. When the sore is in the proper condition it is opened with a shark's tooth lancet, tapped by the operator with a light stick.

Headaches are cured by massaging the head and applying an ointment made of eight buds of the maile tree and a young root of fala pandanus, the thickness of a man's finger and half an arm in length, pounded in a coconut shell cup (ipu).

Earache is relieved by pouring into the ear and then drawing out an extract made from the bark of the tausunu.

The growth over the conjunctiva of the eye, usually the result of irritating an eye infected with conjunctivitis, is scraped away with leaf stems of lau puka. For conjunctivitis and other inflammations of the eye an extract is secured by squeezing the scraped pulp of a coconut leaf midrib. The outer surface of a young leaf is removed and the fibrous pulp is scraped into a receptacle. The juice or sap is expressed through the clothlike stipule of the coconut leaf.