Thai Massage is not the only healing modality in Thailand. There are quite a few unusual healers here. Some spit red betel juice on afflicted areas, some use magical eggs, others prepare herbal mixtures, and some prescribe amulets and other objects that are supposed to be infused with healing power.

Healing magic or scam?

Many or most of these healing methods seem strange or unbelievable to the western mind. The question is: do they really work? Is there some real magic involved or is it quackery?

The answer is not what you expect: It does not matter so much if it is ‘real’ or not.

Healing and the placebo effect

May I remind you that it has been scientifically proven that placebos work almost as well or in some cases equally well as the real thing.

There have been plenty of studies where some patients were given the actual pill, and another group were given sugar pills. They all believed that they took the real pills, and both groups showed very similar improvement.

You might be surprised to learn that this even works with operations. Placebo knee operations resulted in very similar improvements than the patients who had the real operation. Does this mean that the placebo patients were cheated and that their improvement was not real?

Healing and the power of the mind

No, it just means that the power of our mind plays a major role in our healing. We all know that we can think ourselves sick and end up with an ulcer.

It also works the other way round. We can think ourselves healthy and reverse the ulcer. I know that for a fact because I have done it when I had an ulcer once.

So in the case of the Thai healers we will never know for sure what is ‘real’ and what is ‘not real’.

But we know for sure that some people get better through highly unorthodox methods. Some people even get healed where the ‘real’ doctors could not help them and had given up on them.

Of course those methods do not always work, but neither do surgery and chemical pills.

Which healing method is “right”?

So does it really matter what method is used as long as the result is real and beneficial?

If you take a sugar pill, or if someone rubs an egg all over you or if you think that a drop of holy water will cure your ills – if you believe it strongly enough, chances are good that it will actually work. And that has been scientifically proven in many placebo experiments.

Recently I visited a temple called Wat Tanak in Thailand where I witnessed a highly unusual demonstration by a Thai herbalist/healer. He meditated for 40 minutes in a vat filled with herbs and boiling oil while there was a blazing fire under the container. I caught it all on video which you can watch below.

Real magic?  Shame on you!

The interesting thing is that as soon as I published this video in various places, I received a lot of outraged comments. People told me it was all a scam, I would damage my good reputation by publishing it, the oil was not really hot, etc.

This was quite interesting for me since I just filmed exactly what happened and everything was in plain view.

I can’t help but notice that people will watch all kinds of magic shows where they are being totally “cheated”, and they all know it and enjoy the show anyway.

But as soon as you publish something that seems to be magical and may even be real, people get very upset. The debunkers come out and fight you tooth and nail over it.

The debunker’s dilemma

Debunking is like a fanatical religion. The debunker’s mind is already made up, and they would not recognize real magic if it hit them in the face. 

I happen to live in Thailand where most people believe in ghosts, spirits and magic to some degree. It’s part of their religion, actually, which is a mixture of Buddhism and animism (spirit worship).

Debunkers allow only one way to look at the world – their way. There is no tolerance for the possibility of anything else. That’s why anything mystical or magical will always remain hidden from them, even if they look right at it.

For example in my massage practice, if I say that my clients “claim” to feel better after a session, that will be acceptable.

However if I say that I have seen some miraculous improvements which cannot be explained medically or scientifically, the debunkers will go all out to prove me or make me wrong.

However my wife’s life has been saved by one of those magic healers. If you want to read the story, you can find it here.

What’s so bad about a little mystery in life?

There is another way to look at life. I prefer to take it as a reminder that there are some things in life that are mysterious, magical and unexplainable, and they make life interesting.

What is so great about insisting that everything has to be proven scientifically in a test tube or under a microscope?

What is the benefit of explaining away and rationalizing every bit of mystery in the world?

You could also look at it as a unique cultural experience. You just don’t see something like that in many places. It was a fascinating show and a great time so spend a Sunday morning. And if somebody got better by buying some of the amulets that were sold there – good for them.

Now it is up to you what you get out of it. Watching a Thai yogi meditate surrounded by boiling oil should at least be good entertainment, or you might conclude that there really are some things in life that cannot be rationally explained.

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author's pictureThe author, Shama Kern, has been practicing and teaching Thai Massage for 16 years. He is the founder and director of Thai Healing Massage Academy and the creator of 20 online Thai Massage video training courses.