The Dragon’s Den has been selling natural medicines in Makawao for 18 years. For the last 16, Matthew Hammond has been behind the wheel, dishing out herbs, tinctures and advice to Maui’s health conscious consumers. In addition to his duties at the store, Hammond gives a free two-hour health lecture every other Saturday. His discussions deal with everything from addiction and emotional healing to colon cleanses and flower essences. Hammond sat down to share his opinions on the state of health today and talk about why he wants to help.
MAUI TIME WEEKLY
: What do you get out of your free health lectures?
: It’s very much my joy to offer what I know, or what I think I know. Having been in natural medicine for so long I’m sitting on a lot of knowledge, and I feel stagnant if I don’t get to express it. I only ever get to partly express it in the context of serving customers at the store.
How have your studies and practices affected your own life?
I might begin to answer that by saying that I got into natural medicine because I lost my health at a very early age. In my early 20’s I became severely hypoglycemic and the medical doctors were pretty much worthless to me. I got a big assist from a chiropractor and he pointed me in the direction of taking care of my own health. After that I was just looking for more and more knowledge and started to kind of organically help others. In my college years I remember coming up with this traditional Japanese concoction that turned out to be a wonderful remedy for hangovers. I’d have the guys knocking on my door Sunday morning asking, “Matthew, can you make me some of that stuff?”
What’s the general public’s most common misconception about holistic medicine?
I see a lot of what you may call conventional people disenchanted with conventional medicine. I see it as a very deficient system. It has its strong points, emergency medicine for example. A car crash, the ER room. I wouldn’t want to have it done any other way. But for some of the more organic processes of disease, my impression is largely based on the complaints of my customers, who are in it and it’s not working for them. Thus they’re showing up.
The fallacy, in my opinion, of the naysayer of holistic medicine is that it isn’t scientific. This is the biggest misconception there is. The amount of scientific research done on natural medicine is humungous. The studies are there. When I hear people dissing natural medicine, I’m hearing scientifically uninformed, or misinformed people.
What would you say is the largest public health problem today?
I would have to say the food system, which is prevalent across the whole country. Sadly the Hawaiian culture has had a tendency to go to what I would call the bottom end of quality in the food distribution system. The worst of the worst, the SPAM and whatever. And there you see a very high prevalence of diabetes in the Hawaiian community. A lot is being done about that, returning to traditional diets for example. It doesn’t matter where you come from, you will always find health if you go back to your ethnic roots in terms of food systems. You really just need to get away from the modern system to find health. It’s that simple.
What are the three largest obstacles to good health today?
The first one is getting caught up in our hectic world. To be healthy, we need to make a constant effort towards simplicity in our lives. We end up in over-stressed lives because we’re trying to do too much. I would suggest looking at what’s meaningful and trimming the fat. The second important thing is looking at everything that passes through our lips. Is it for our nutrition, or our entertainment?
Now hopefully we’re highly entertained by our nutrition, but there are those elements we know aren’t doing much for us besides entertaining our mouths and taste buds. The third one, and I’m going to frame it in the positive, is the willingness to accept that it’s a lot of homework to take care of ourselves, because we’re in a society that’s adverse to our health. There are various saboteurs, like how our environment is being polluted, all the technological advancements that come with their price tag, and the drugs that come with their side effects.
All of these things chip away at our health, and it takes very deep resolve to counter them. What comes to mind is the label ‘health nut’. A lot of people have a hard time accepting that you really need to be a health nut to make a significant difference. MTW