Thai Massage Intro -16 The Old Medicine Hospital

The Old Medicine Hospital

Located in Chiang Mai and officially called the Thai Massage School Shivagakomarpaj & Old Medicine Hospital, it has been the leading Thai Medicine, and Thai Massage institute in the North of Thailand since the 1960’s up to the beginning of the 21st century.
In recent years, the school may have lost some of its original passion, but it’s still, after the Wat Po Medical Massage school in Bangkok, one of the most renowned Thai Massage institutes in Thailand and around the world. Many contemporary Thai Massage training schools in Chiang Mai and around the world have been founded by former teachers and practitioners from the Old Medicine Hospital. Among the most notable teachers you’ll find, for instance, Ajarn Pichest Boonthumme and John Settakorn (ITM).
Moreover, several well-known Western Thai Massage lineages, such as the Sunshine Network and Lotus Palm, are deeply influenced by the Shivagakomarpaj lineage.
Note that the name “Old Medicine Hospital” is perhaps somewhat ambiguous because it doesn’t refer to an “Old Hospital,” but to “Old Medicine.” Old Medicine in the sense of “Traditional Medicine” or “Ancient Medicine.” 

When I first discovered Thai Massage, it was in a 20 hr. elective at the Swedish Institute in NYC. Our teacher was not a specialist, so he used a video made by Richard Gold for the demos. In the intro for the video, Richard mentioned his lineage beginning at the Old Medicine Hospital.

So, when I decided to make Thai Massage the focus of my practice, I headed for the Old Medicine Hospital in 2008.

On the DVD it read:

About the Actor

Richard Gold is a licensed acupuncturist and holds a doctorate in psychology. In 1989 Dr. Gold graduated from the program in Nuad Bo-Rarn at the Old Medicine Hospital in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He is a senior instructor and board member at I.P.S.B. in San Diego.


The school and clinic were founded in 1962 by Ajahn Sintorn Chaichakan (Ajahn Sintorn passed away in 2005) and was the first in Chiang Mai to open its doors to Western tourists who wanted to learn Thai massage. Ajahn (Master) Sintorn Chaichakan is honored as the founder of the school’s tradition of Thai massage (the Shivagakomarpaj Lineage).

Here I am with the cowboy hat back in 2008 on my first visit to Thailand.

Ajahn Sintorn

Ajahn Sintorn himself studied traditional Thai medicine at Wat Pho (Bangkok) in the late 1950s. After his studies, he stayed on as a teacher at the Wat Pho Medical School for four more years. Before that time, Wat Pho did not formally teach Thai massage, and Ajahn Sintorn was a key figure in starting the Thai massage program from Wat Pho.
When he returned to Chiang Mai in 1962, he started practicing medicine on the grounds of several city temples. Ajahn Sintorn adapted his massage and herbal medicine practice to include aspects of northern Thai culture. He made An important change to the Wat Pho massage routine: to slow it down, as he said, “to suit the laid-back style of Chiang Mai natives.” He also focused on local herbal knowledge, integrating treatments that were not part of the Wat Pho tradition. In 1973, Ajahn Sintorn established the current facility.
Current Thai Massage Course Programs
The Old Medicine Hospital currently runs 4 Levels of Thai Massage training, each program with a duration of 30 hours (5 days).