MONOLOGUE: ‘SECRETS OF FIJIAN MEDICINE’

The Michael Savage Show – Friday April 9, 2021

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Today’s podcast is very very different. 

It’s not about politics.  It’s not about the hatred of the left and the destruction of America.  It’s about something I know a little bit about, called Fijian Medicine.  Secrets of Fijian medicine, folk medicine. Now this has nothing to do with Fiji water.  It is about the people of the islands of Fiji. 

Today’s podcast is brought to you in three parts.   In the first I tell you why I actually went and collected medicinal plants, what it meant to me. And I share initial writings about the beauty of the islands.  In the second, I focus on the PEOPLE of Fiji, their folk ways and wisdom.  And I share what were then my YOUNG MAN’S IDEAS about western culture and government.  In the third part, I relate the travels of an older man, revisiting the islands and looking at the very small things as well as the big picture.

I was a city boy who found himself in the farthest flung corner of the world you can imagine.  Why did I do it?  I was inspired by JFK to make the world a better place, for one.  I was inspired by Ernest Hemingway to go to faraway tropical places.  Not to kill animals, but to find cures for disease. 

It was a crazy time in America. 

Others my age were joining the Peace Corps. But I needed something riskier.  Wilder.  With more imagination.  The Peace Corps was too tame for me.  I wanted to go it ALONE, not as part of some organization. 

What did it feel like getting off the plane from civilization, and stepping onto a warm wet tropical island filled with ancient history?  And what did I do first?  I looked around, appreciated nature, and I started to write in my journals.

I was very fortunate.

I visited Fiji in 1968 as an ethnobotanist.  A student of ethnobotany, that’s folk botany, collecting medicinal plants.  And I sent them back to the National Institutes of Health to try to find treatments and cures of various illnesses, according to the healers that I was fortunate enough to be allowed to meet in the villages of Fiji. 

I was a plant explorer!  I did this in 1968, before Fiji became an independent nation. It was still a colony of Britain, if you can believe it.  I was on those islands during the last gasp of colonialism in Fiji.   There were no television sets in the outer villages, up in the mountains where I went. There were no roads. You had to walk in, climb in, climb up hills, go down river.   it’s hard to believe but that’s how it was:  I captured a country in the crucible of its own originality.

I codified the medicinal plants as best I could, and then it was published as a Ph.D. dissertation at the University of California Berkeley.  And then it was picked up as a book by The United Nations.  I was told it was the first book that the U.N. had ever published. 

There are copies of this book out there, but very few of them.  You can find them on the internet for up to $1000.  I’m going to reprint this book, for you, in an expensive paperback edition.  For those of you who want to read the complete details and get the names of all of the plants, the actual botanical names, what they are, what they were used for, and what the plants look like.   Right now I want to begin with Secrets of Fijian Medicine.  

The Introduction is entitled The Art & Science of Collecting Folk Remedies.

“Filtered shafts of piercing light within an atmosphere of dense moistness. The tropical rainforest.  A swollen river yesterday beaten down, now coursing rapidly around banks. The result of sudden impossible heavy rains.  Then there was the beach and endless cobalt jade seas with visions of pirates and captains, treasures and disaster.  A full sail, the trade winds, the night stars.”
“An endless shadowbox of mystery.” 

“These and other images first drew me to the islands of Fiji. Of course, the search was for healing plants, but beneath it all was poetry. Nature is the well of all poems and her pure images have propelled men through countless quests. Like all men my dream was fueled by images of glory.  To bring back to world medicine a jewel of cure long sought.  I did not realize then, in the beginning of my journey, that dramatic results often elude the searcher.”

“The treasure may be the search itself.” 

“You see, like a bad novel, a good life often appears pointless and undramatic.  Yet beneath the apparently pointless existence, there may be a series of great gifts known only to our creator, the spirit of spirits.  You see, in this way my rather undramatic series of visits to Fiji may offer yet unrecognized treasures. But this depends upon the future directions of pharmaceutical research.”
“Should our infatuation with synthetic drugs go on? The medicinal plants described today, in my book and enumerated in other natural medicine oriented sources, may remain mere objects of medical curiosity.  Simple throwbacks to a more primitive romantic phase of medicine in the eyes of those who create medicines from OTHER than natural sources.  That is, the drug companies.”
“On the other hand, great treasures may await the research chemist or pharmacologist, the corporate executive or government leaders willing to gamble on their own backyards. Why root in strange vineyards for cures to our ills when solutions may be found  in our own forests or underneath our own seas?”


And so I say to you now:

Why import costly sedatives, tranquilizers, first aid creams, sore throat and painful head and stomach remedies?  Why, when local plants may work more effectively with fewer side effects and at much lower costs, which will be spent at home not sent abroad, further unbalancing our national economy?

A majority of the 150 or so medicinal plants that I describe in “Secrets of Fijian Medicine” can also be found growing throughout other Pacific Islands, especially the coastal growing plants and many also grow in regions of Southeast Asia. Of course, some of these medicinally useful plants will be familiar to residents of or visitors to these tropical nations and the utility recognized immediately. 

I have collected these plants and I have all of them in different herbaria around the world.  Some of them are in the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. Others are in the New York Botanical Garden. Others are in an herbarium in Moscow. Others are in the Kew Gardens in London. There’s a collection in Paris. 

I’m hoping that by putting these plant specimens in these herbaria around the world, people will eventually come back and look at them with a new interest.  Even 100 years from now.  Maybe they’ll find out what’s in them, after analyzing them, that worked for the Fijian healer, and by doing so they could develop a medicine useful for the people of the world. 

I have long wanted to create a fusion of art with science. 

Art with science, because I found out a long time ago that the very finest scientists rely on their intuition, just as great artists approach their creations with the precise skills and methods of science.  But I will admit that the fusion I have sought continues to elude me.

This is an odd presentation and for now it must be so, until medical systems and cures of ancient times are accepted for what they are.  What are they?  They’re not just old folk healers poking around in the woods.   They are the scientific product of ages of experimentation by the people who found them and used them over a long period of time.

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