Ancient Chamorro healers were known as makahnas – they treated illnesses but were also known to cast spells to deal with spiritual matters. Under Spanish colonization the Chamorros were introduced to Catholicism and the makahnas all but disappeared. However, the practice of traditional healing survived thousands of years and is maintained today by practitioners known as suruhanus.
Up until World War II, the Chamorro people vastly preferred herbal remedies over Western medicine and suruhanus were routinely consulted for common ailments. The suruhanu uses various plants, including roots and leaves, to make medicine to treat common ailments such as fever, rash, sores and even diabetes, cancer, and dementia. A suruhanu might prepare an herbal drink or an ointment made of a mixture of ground herbs and oils, and also engage in massage.
One modern day suruhana is Ms. Bernice Nelson, manager of Åmot Farm. Amot Taotao Tano means “medicine for the people of the land” and Åmot Farm grows herbs and native medicinal plants that are used for traditional healing practices. Ms. Nelson also teaches the community about the island’s plants and herbs that have healing properties. Along the pathways at Åmot Farm, each plant has an informational sign that includes interesting information such as the plant’s Chamorro, English and scientific names and its healing properties.
Åmot Farm recently launched its first coconut oil making workshop where guests learned how to husk and grate a coconut and use it to make pure coconut oil infused with fresh lemongrass, ginger, and turmeric. This hands-on workshop is a wonderful and unique experience for someone who wishes to delve deeper into Chamorro culture and also take home a bottle of coconut oil they created from start to finish.
Åmot Farm is a short drive from Two Lovers Point and is open Monday through Friday with farm tours at 10:00am and 1:00pm. It is recommended to email or call ahead to make a reservation or to inquire about workshops.
Address: 613 Swamp Road • Dededo, Guam 96929
Telephone: (671) 969-3276