Hoʻomaʻemaʻe: A Traditional Method of Detoxing


Read this article in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

Hoʻomaʻemaʻe is a traditional healing practice that involves cleansing or detoxing as a means to correct imbalances within the three dimensions of health: physical, mental, and spiritual. Such imbalances are believed to be the cause of many illnesses.

I was privileged with the opportunity to work with a hui of people trained in this healing art form by internationally renowned Aunty Margaret Machado, an expert practitioner in this field whose family taught and passed down this knowledge over many generations.

Hoʻomaʻemaʻe is not a simple or quick practice; overnight stays for a period of time are required.

The protocol includes frequent rest, scheduled formulas, and multiple treatments incorporating lomilomi, hoʻoponopono, lāʻau lapaʻau, and more. Participants also receive evening ʻai pono classes to obtain the knowledge needed to support the physical detox that will continue in the weeks after leaving the program.

Meals consist of only whole and fresh plant foods without added oil and sugar. Other food groups are omitted, as they can hinder the body from eliminating toxins, delay healing, or cause toxins that are released to be reabsorbed.

While traditional Hawaiian foods are the base of every meal, other vegetables and fruits are also included to demonstrate readily available food substitutions. This is important, as each cohort commonly includes both continental and international participants. A typical meal includes poi and steamed ʻulu or ʻuala, brown rice, salad, fruit, soup, tofu or beans, and a few other plant-based dishes that are prepared steamed, stir-fried, baked, or fresh. Foods are lightly seasoned with Hawaiian sea salt, ginger, garlic, ʻolena, dulse, or nutritional yeast. People seeking to improve their health can get a jumpstart by following a similar diet at home for two weeks.