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Te Pito Te Henua, or Easter Island, by William J. Thompson, [1891], at


The practice of relieving pain by manipulation of the body was the effective movement cure resorted to by the islanders years before the Swedish or massage treatment assumed its present prominence. Without entering upon the question of how valuable the practice of lomi-lomi may be as a cure for ailments, I may testify to the physical regeneration of this titillant manipulation. On more that one occasion I have thrown myself upon the ground, completely exhausted by over-exertion, and yielded to the dexterous kneadings and frictions and palmings and pinchings of those skilled in the treatment. The hard-fisted native is by no means gentle in the operation, but with palms and knuckles vigorously tests every muscle and tendon, as well as every joint of the vertebræ until the exhausted patient sinks into a state of oblivious somnolence.

Several of the plants indigenous to the island were considered valuable remedies for certain ailments, but the chief therapeutic art of the native practitioner was the pretended exercise of powers of divination. The application of herbs, simples, and the practice of lomi-lomi were perhaps not sufficient distinction, and therefore a claim was made for occult knowledge and supernatural power.

The native pharmacopœia is extremely limited in its scope. The thistle is bruised and applied to sores and ulcers, arrowroot for burns, and a species of nightshade is used as a vulnerary remedy. On this breeze-swept island diseases of a paludal nature are unknown.

A mild type of remittent fever is common during the rainy season from April to October, but nature is left to fight its battles without assistance. Rheumatism and pulmonary complaints occasionally result from long exposure to inclement weather, but as a rule no medical treatment is attempted.

The natives believe that a disease called "kino," or cracked feet, results from walking over the rocks along the shore at Tahai. Probably the trouble arises from cuts and abrasions coming in contact with a succulent vine that grows at this place.

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