Applied Thai traditional medicine

Applied Thai traditional medicine

- Thais often prefer locally prepared remedies, treatments by local healers and traditional massage therapy to hospitals and doctors. Massage is regarded by villagers as an important form therapy. Illness has traditionally been blamed on spiritual possession, fear, problems, and an imbalance of elements on the body. In the Northeast rituals such as bai sir sukwan (“tying” the soul back into a an ill or disturbed person) is an important form of healing.

- Traditional herbalists, like Thai masseurs and masseuses, have a guardian spirit they pay homage to: Shivaga Komarpaj, the Ayurvedic practitioner who treated the Lord Buddha and is considered the father of Thai traditional medicine,. An important ritual among practitioners of Traditional Thai Medicine is the wai khru, or paying homage to Shivago and the unbroken lineage of masters who have kept the tradition alive. The devotee makes prayers and offerings (usually incense) at an altar, taking care never to turn his or her back on it after the ceremony. The wai khru which opens with the words Om namo Shivago, is performed in schools and massage facilities throughout the land.

- There are three basic ways to classify medicinal herbs: those taken internally, applied externally, and inhaled. Many, though, fall under two or even all three of these classifications. Herbal drugs can have from two to as many as 40 different ingredients, which are also classified by species and medicinal attributes. Then, there is Thai cuisine, which, while famous for its flavors, is also known for its healing properties. As the different dishes can kindle and arouse as well as soothe the senses, the different spices and ingredients are again included to achieve a harmony of the body’s elements, thus serving as a preventative or curative of different symptoms and ailments.

Philosophy and Reasoning Behind Thai Traditional Medicine

   Earth, wind, fire, and water. No, not a band’s name, but the four elements that must be balanced for a person to be healthy. This is the basis for Thai traditional healing. As early as the third century BC, Indian Brahmins and Buddhist monks traveled to Thailand. As well as the introducing new religious beliefs, they brought with them a holistic approach to healing, Ayurveda, which is based on maintaining a balanced flow of energy through meridians in the body and includes massage and herbal remedies. As the region’s name, Indochina, so well implies, the Chinese also had a strong influence on Thai culture, bringing with them their treatments, particularly acupressure and acupuncture, as well as a cornucopia of animal and herbal concoctions.

  Thus, Thai healing evolved with the integration of these systems and ethno-practices being performed by local healers, shamans, and midwives. Based on a holistic approach that includes internal, external, and psycho-spiritual disciplines, or herbal potions, massage, and meditation, this medical philosophy focuses on four elements, earth (din), water (nam), wind (lom), and fire (fai), and achieving body and mind harmony.

Thai Medicine Diagnosis and Treatment

 The process of diagnosis and treatment by a "medicine doctor" (herbalist) follows the Ayurvedic model: the cause of the disease as well as the elemental makeup of the patient is analyzed. All things in the world and in the human being is made up of the four elements: fire, water, air and earth. Each element rules specific body parts and functions, and an imbalance of an element manifests as a disese of the areas it is concerned with. For example: 1) A disharmony of the earth element may manifest as a disease of the organs, bones or muscles. 2) A disharmony of the water element may show symptoms such as urniary trouble, blood or lymph disease. 3) A disharmony of the air element may show as respiratory problems like bronchitis, dizziness, stiffness, arhtiritis. 4) A disharmony of the fire element may cause heart problems.

Traditional Thai Medicines

 In addition to treating various symptoms and ailments, many Thai medicinal herbs are used to spice up the various dishes. Thais love to combine very different flavors, hot, sour, sweet and bitter, which create culinary delights that are also curatives, as they balance the four elements: wind, water, earth, and fire.