Sacred Bodywork: Articles
Ancient Traditions, Modern Expressions
Thai Massage Article

April 23rd 2008 - Introduction
Medicine in the United States has historically been associated with the treatment of disease by medical doctors—usually with prescriptions or surgery. More specifically, the tradition has been to respond to specific symptoms, rather than viewing the individual holistically. Headaches suggested the use of analgesics to stop the pain. Muscle spasms prompted prescriptions for muscle relaxants to bypass the nervous system. Frequently little, if any, effort was devoted to seeking the cause of these common types of symptoms. The quickest, shortest answer was assumed to be the correct one, and stress or aging could be blamed for almost anything. Patients exhibiting symptoms without convenient blanket explanations, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, might find themselves referred to a psychologist for counseling. Even such basic preventive measures as vaccinations are largely ignored after childhood.

In recent years, this mindset has begun to thaw somewhat. I believe there are a variety of reasons for changing attitudes, but I want to mention some of the more important one. First, thanks to the internet and various forms of targeted publications, those with an interest can find much more information on alternative forms of treatment. Second, Western medicine has lost the sheen of inevitable victory in the treatment of certain conditions. Some strains of bacteria have become resistant to all of the major antibiotics. Years of research and millions of dollars have not yielded cures to persistent illnesses, such as AIDS and cancer. Third, medical care through a medical doctor/hospital has become prohibitively expensive for a large segment of the population. Finally, for purely business reasons, some health insurance providers have realized that “alternative” medicine can effectively treat many conditions cost effectively and without the side effects of drugs. For example, it is less expensive (and more effective in the long term) to treat stress-related issues with acupuncture or massage than to take prescription drugs. This same business reality encouraged the rediscovery of preventive measures as a cost-effective way of avoiding expensive treatments of diseases in full bloom.

All of this means that the United States is finally catching up with much of the rest of the world.

In Thailand, and in many other Asian nations, the healthcare tradition has been to treat the body holistically, with a focus on maintaining balance or helping the individual to regain it once lost. Illness is considered an indication of imbalance, either within the client or between the client and his external world. In sharp contrast to American medicine, the client is considered on multiple levels, physical, energetic and spiritual.

More specifically, Thai traditional medicine combines herbal treatments, proper nutrition, physical exercise and hydrotherapy with massage practice. Thais believe that “’the absence of illness is the best blessing.’”[1] Until dislodged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this combination constituted the primary healthcare regime for Thailand, rather than an alternative viewed with some skepticism as it has been in the United States. Please go to to read complete article.

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Dennis Stovall is a LMT, Thai Massage practitioner, and Thai Massage teacher at Sacred Bodywork LLC in Miami Beach, Florida. USA