Traditional medicine remains relevant to Omani society

While people all over the world have different opinion about alternative medicine and traditional healing, locals in Al-Awabi and the nearby villages flocked to some unimposing houses in this laid-back village for traditional medical care.
Although these locals have access to modern technology and advanced scientific medical care, it’s ingrained in their system to check out local healers first as many of them have proven that they can heal just as good as doctors.
Nazih al Bahri has been known as a great Al Tajbeer healer and she has been receiving patients in her home for over two decades.
“I deal with the non-life threatening fractures — some injuries of the bones in the hand or leg or any parts of the body that were injured after a fall or traffic accident,” she shared.
“These are the lowest degree of fractures,” she clarified.
Al Tajbeer is an easy process. Al Bahri shared that once she determined the condition of the patient, she would “repeatedly massage the fractured area, put flour mixed with egg on it and then cover the place of the injury for several days.”
“The egg and flour mixture serves like a medical plaster. It is also lightweight and its purpose is to maintain the integrity of the bones and help avoid jerking motions which can dislocate it,” she said.
She added that with this process, the patient usually recovers after two or three days of treatment much faster than the hospital treatment.
Asia al Kindi is one of many Omanis who practises Al Wassim Therapy. Welcoming patients in the living room of her house, she shared that she usually treats adult diseases that cannot be treated in hospitals.
She added that one of the frequent diseases she cures is Al Mouallada, which takes place between the chest and the abdomen and causes the abdomen to swell.
The therapy includes a piece of nail or iron called ‘kia’ being placed in the fire. It is heated to a certain degree and then placed on the neck, chest or other body parts where there is injury and left there for a few minutes. The heat from the nail or iron has therapeutic effect on the injury.
“People with fever or high temperatures cannot be treated with this therapy. They have to go to the hospital for that,” she shared.
For Khamis al Bahari who hails from Al Alyya village, her expertise is on herb therapy.
“Herbs, as many people already know, have many important benefits to the human body. Although herbal treatments have decreased due to the progress made in modern medicine, there are still a lot of diseases that individual plants or a mix of two or three herbs can cure faster and in most efficient manner,” she shared.
“For example, cooking Al Suommer herb with salt can treat acne. If children are having high fever, mixing Al Harmal with dry lemon and salt and bathing the kid on it will help them heal faster. The roots of Al Suffun herb can be used to treat cancer too,” he shared.
Al Bahari said that he has been treating patients from his home for several years now and he hasn’t received any complaint but rather was happy that his experience and more practise led him to refine his herbal therapy skills.
While alternative healing or traditional medicine works differently from person to person, the local healers are aware that there are diseases that can only be cured by an experienced doctor.
In their experience as well, if traditional medicine cannot cure their patients, they also refer them to hospitals. For them, it is very important to know if the traditional methods can lead to acceleration of healing or cause more problem.
Although traditional medicine is a cultural symbol and heritage which deserves proper regulation and support, social researcher Mubarak al Hamdani, said they people nowadays are more aware of their conditions.
He added that because of distrust to medical institutions, traditional healers are usually granted high social status and good reputation by the locals and because of this good standing in the society that people go to them and opt for more natural means of healing.
“Some people regard traditional medicine as a myth while others rely on its effectiveness to cure diseases. It all depends on the level of trust and confidence people have on who cure them,” he said.