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Throughout its history, the traditional medicine practices of Thailand have been brought forward locally, with variations from region to region in information and focus based on lineage.

The Ministry of Public Health in Thailand has collected information to create a traditional medicine program that offers government licensure over four years.

The four focus areas are traditional pharmacy, medicine, midwifery, and massage.

While all practitioners, regardless of the level of previous training and experience, are encouraged to complete the degree program to earn licensure to practice, there are still doctors practicing within their lineages and systems of knowledge that exist locally and regionally across Thailand. 

 While overlap and standard theory exist among these various local systems, each lineage is considered whole unto itself.

Here is a relatively extensive list of specializations within the Traditional Thai medicine system. 

Herbal medicine plays a significant role in Thai culture. Passed down through generations, it is deeply rooted in traditional practices. Thai people believe in the healing properties of various herbs and plants, using them to treat a wide range of ailments. These remedies are often prepared in the form of teas, poultices, or ointments. Thai herbal medicine is known for its holistic approach, addressing not only physical symptoms but also the overall well-being of an individual. The use of herbal medicine in Thai culture reflects the deep connection between nature and health and continues to be an integral part of traditional healing practices in Thailand.

One of the more famous aspects of Thailand and its culture is the sophistication of its food. While popular for its flavors, its ingredients’ healing properties are attributed to the recipes’ inspiration. There is no doubt that these dishes have a powerful impact on arousing and soothing the senses, but the different spices and ingredients were originally included as a curative or preventative to restore the balance of the body’s elements, thus serving various symptoms and ailments.

In Traditional Thai Medicine, doctors’ remedies from the local area and treatments from the local therapists are preferred to those that are not connected to the neighborhood. Especially in rural areas, hands-on therapy is regarded as a normal and everyday part of life. Diseases and sickness have often been deemed the product of fear, possession by spirits, or a simple imbalance of the elements. Rituals such as Bai Sir Sukwan in the Northeast are performed in order to tie the lost soul back into a mentally ill person and are still an important part of Thi healing.


Elements and Tastes in Thai Medicine:


Elemental Rulerships of the Human Body Element Body Parts/Functions:

ORGANS: brain, stomach, spleen, liver, heart, kidneys, lungs, intestine, colon, muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, bone marrow, rectum, hair, body hair, skin, teeth, nails.

FLUIDS: blood, lymph, sweat, tears, mucus, bile, saliva, nasal mucus, urine, joint lubrication, liquid, and solid fats.

WINDS/MOVEMENT: higher to lower wind, lower to the higher wind, wind in the belly, wind in the digestive system (digestion), wind in the blood, and wind in the breath (respiration).

HEAT: heat near the lungs that generates warmth, heat near the heart that stirs circulation, the heat that helps with digestion in the abdomen, and the lowest heat that causes metabolism


The Tastes:

Traditional Thai Medicine recognizes nine tastes plus bland, which are tied to the elements. Taste is a primary consideration in Thai herbalism because it is by taste that herbs’ healing properties are determined. Depending on its taste, an herb can increase a particular element and decrease others. 

List of Tastes, Treatments, Health Problems: 

 Astringent> diarrhea, digestion, flesh wounds, liver disorders
 Sweet> Fatigue, low immunity or energy; 
 Toxic/Nauseating>anti-toxic, for parasites, wounds, tetanus; 
 Bitter Tonic> parasites, infections, blood or bile disease; 
 Hot/Spicy> common colds, gas, indigestion, sinusitis; 
 Nutty> skin disease; stiff joints, tendons, or muscles; 
 Fragrant> stimulates the heart, enriches the blood, lifts depression; 
 Salty> supports the skin, constipation reduces gas; 
 Sour> expectorant reduces fever, supports the blood, aids lung infections; 
Bland> balances poisoning and reduces thirst.

Thai Herbal Medicine: Traditional Recipes for Health and Harmony

Nephyr Jacobsen and C. Pierce Salguero are the foremost authorities on the Thai medicine theory of our time. Together, in this book, they delve into the uses of herbology in Thai medicine.

Thai herbs are part of a vibrant culture of healing that has been practiced and preserved over the centuries in traditional medicine schools, Buddhist monasteries, and village homes all over Thailand. Many ancient herbal traditions continue to be practiced throughout Thailand to this day, and the Ministry of Public Health has now recognized some of these as an important facet of the country’s national healthcare system.  

Thai Herbal Medicine: Traditional Recipes for Health and Harmony
ISBN 1844096556
by Nephyr Jacobsen  (Author)