The Hawaiian people, before the Europeans came, were healthy, hardy and free from disease. They maintained their health through practices we now acknowledge as being important. These included proper diet, exercise through work and play, outdoor living, and spirituality. They were unhurried and lived a peaceful daily life.
Hawaiians were tall and well-developed and the average height of the common people was about 5’10”; while chiefs were even taller. Chiefs often weighed three hundred pounds or more, and the larger their wife the more she was revered.
Hawaiians frequently bathed, often two or three times a day, in salt, then in fresh water, followed by a massage using coconut oil. People washed their hands regularly.
The Hawaiian medical kahuna administered enemas, performed autopsies, and employed massage, steam baths, diet and rest. He was supported by over a dozen specialists who were highly trained in their specific fields of healing. Spirituality and herbs played a big part in the health of the Hawaiians. Herbs were gathered, prepared and administered according to well-defined rituals.
The Hawaiian doctor was eminently successful in treating his patients since Hawaii was practically free from bacteria and viruses until the Europeans came. The chief physical conditions that confronted the doctor were primarily constipation, and, of course, physical injuries.
Hawaiian doctors, like his European counterpart were unsuccessful in coping with many of the 19th and early 20th century diseases. The Hawaiians isolation resulted in their having no immunity to contagious diseases. Many illnesses which caused very few fatalities among Western and Oriental people took a high death toll among the Polynesians, nearly wiping out the original Hawaiian population.