Healing Oneself Through Nature

Dina Marie Kaniho with some of her homemade Natural Aloha products NATHALIE WALKER PHOTO

Dina Marie Kaniho with some of her homemade Natural Aloha products NATHALIE WALKER PHOTO

Last August, during one of her shifts as a nurse at The Queen’s Medical Center, Dina Marie Kaniho ended up in the emergency room. She had been noticing a range of symptoms — back pain, fatigue, chest pains, weight loss and numbness — for a while, and on this particular day, it was so bad she couldn’t function. Even with her medical background, Kaniho couldn’t connect the symptoms. And the doctors didn’t seem to know what was wrong either. That day in the ER marked just the first in a blur of doctors and specialists, X-rays and MRIs — all found nothing.

“I actually got told a few times that I needed to go see a psychiatrist,” Kaniho recalls. “They basically told me, ‘Nothing is wrong with you.’ … It just felt like it was hopeless.”

But she refused to give up. Kaniho, who was always interested in natural medicine, wondered if chemicals in store-bought products were contributing to her health problems in some way. She changed her diet, eating more natural foods and fewer processed, chemical-laden ones.

“Lo and behold, my symptoms started to gradually disappear,” she recalls.

After that she began to apply the same concept to the things she puts on her body, and developed a line of natural, chemical-free personal-care products as a way to reduce the severe reactions she started having to everyday items. At first, the products were just for herself and her family. But soon the word spread, and now Kaniho runs Natural Aloha, which features natural, organic products for personal care and household needs.

The first product she developed remains one of Natural Aloha’s most popular: the Pit Balm, an all-natural deodorant comprised of coconut oil (for its antibacterial properties), arrowroot (to keep it smooth) and baking soda (to neutralize odor). Kaniho notes that even her husband, whom she describes as a “workout maniac,” uses this.

“Some people say that we should call it Pit Bomb because it’s so good that it’s the bomb!” she says.

Another popular product is Natural Aloha’s Laundry Soap, which, like the Pit Balm, Kaniho concocted during the peak of her illness, when her normal detergent made her itchy. The soap is comprised of natural minerals.

Natural Aloha also creates homemade exfoliating body scrubs, including Home-grown Olena Body Scrub, which features pieces of real olena, as well as coconut oil and Hawaiian sea salt. Other products include Aloha Glow, which exfoliates and moisturizes skin with coconut oil, lavender and chamomile, and Calm and Clarity aromatherapy spray, which is designed to reduce anxiety and help you sleep.

Eventually, Kaniho was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, as well as an autoimmune condition. Along the way, she chose to focus her energy on running Natural Aloha rather than returning to nursing.

“I was trying to help as many people as I could (in nursing), but in the process, I was basically killing myself — which took me a long time to even say out loud because I felt like I wasn’t a good nurse if I had to put myself first,” she says. “(Natural Aloha) is the blessing out of my tragedy. And now I am able to help people. It is more than just about the products.

“It is a lifestyle. We want to try to make people aware and let them know that they have a choice. That is the big key.”

Natural Aloha can be purchased at Down to Earth, Vim N’ Vigor, Noelani Studios, Nori Kohana Massage, or online at natural-aloha.com. For more information, email naturalalohahi@gmail.com.