laau lapaau: learning hawaiian medicine

David Frickman
Jasmine LeFever
July 01, 2019

She’s a mother with a full-time job, but Mamo Trueman’s passion has always been Hawaiian medicine. Now she’s a laau lapaau student at Waimanalo Health Center (WHC), where she learns how to use plants for healing. Trueman says she’s used Hawaiian medicine in the past, so when she heard about WHC’s classes, she knew she was meant to join.

Since WHC’s first laau lapaau class in 2016, Trueman’s taken many more. She’s learned about various types of plants, how to propagate them at home, and how to prepare them for medicinal use. She enjoys sharing her knowledge with her family and neighbors, exemplifying qualities of a great student and teacher.


Leina‘ala Bright and Mamo Trueman making tea from lāʻau

Trueman considers the laau lapaau class a blessing. It’s a chance to learn, absorb, and share with her community. And it’s helping to pass on this important ancient healing practice to future generations.

She says she’s trying to find things to do to better herself. A former WHC board member, Trueman serves as a member of the Community Advisory Board for a WHC research project called, “Ho‘oilina Pono A‘e.” The project that examines the value of integrating native Hawaiian traditional healing into Western primary care with the goal of leaving a legacy.


Mamo Trueman

Trueman also volunteers at Mālama ‘Āina Day, an annual WHC event to take care of their gardens, including the laau. Often found bringing her own wheelbarrow, tools, and gloves, Trueman is there to malama, or care for, the plants that malama her.



Jasmine LeFever is the Community Relations Specialist at Waimānalo Health Center. Waimānalo Health Center offers native Hawaiian traditional healing services including lomilomi and laau lapaau integrated with primary care. For more information, see the summer 2019 issue of Island Scene magazine or visit

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