Giving the Makana of Health

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Buying holiday makana is not easy. Trying to figure out what people like and what they already have is the most challenging part. Rather than figuring out their size or favorite color, how about giving a Hawaiian culture-focused gift to support their olakino (health)? Consider these gift ideas.

Lomi stick. A friend who specializes in lomilomi did a class teaching massage using a lomi stick. What a life saver! Although it is sometimes used by lomilomi practitioners, it is commonly self-administered to release tension and pain in the neck, shoulder, back, legs, and feet. A wonderful gift for those who work at a desk or are always on their feet. If you do decide to purchase one, I recommend that you talk to a lomilomi practitioner about the best place to purchase one, which size to buy, and techniques on how to use it safely and properly. Good for the mind, body, and spirit.

Hawaiian salt. Most of the Hawaiian salt sold in supermarkets is not real Hawaiian salt, although it may be labeled that way. Most brands are just coarsely ground table salt. Real Hawaiian salt has a finer, flakier texture and is unprocessed. This means it retains essential minerals that help to counteract some of the blood pressure-raising effects of sodium. Although too much salt is not recommended, you will not need as much when using Hawaiian salt, as it delivers more flavor with less. It can be found at most Farmer’s Markets if you don’t already know someone who harvests their own.

Native plants. Giving lāʻau or medicinal plants as a gift benefits all generations who access those plants. As our ancestors utilized plants in healing, we should always seek to do the same. Māmaki, koʻokoʻolau, noni, kukui, ʻuhaloa, ʻōlena (turmeric), and kī (ti leaf) are common medicinal plants that can be used either as teas or made into simple tinctures. When selecting a plant as a gift, consider the location and climate of the receiver’s home. For example, if they live on the west side of the island, choosing ‘uhaloa, kī, or koʻokoʻolau will do best as they thrive with lots of sun. If you have some of these plants already growing at home, you could alternatively dry the leaves or make the tinctures and gift them “ready to use.”

Poi. Not all Hawaiians eat poi as often as they would like. Limited availability and high cost have turned this traditional staple into a luxury item. It is more nutritious than white rice or potato, with less of an effect on blood sugar. It is also easy to digest, making it a good food for babies. Given alone or accompanied with some dried fish or poke, it is sure to be a favorite gift – what Hawaiian doesn’t like poi?

Of course, there is no greater makana to give than the gift of aloha to those you love. Mele Kalikimaka iā kākou!