Thailand's Health Advantage News Feed

Thailand's Health Advantage

Thailand welcomed around one and half million medical and wellness tourists in 2010, almost three times the amount of health related visitors that arrived 10 years previously. With health now a global concern, international visitors see Thailand as one of the world's top destinations for physical and spiritual well being and on average spend a week to 10 days in the Kingdom, generating a projected revenue US$2.23 billion this year alone.

Thailand’s health and wellness advantage lies in both prevention and cure. Thai spas and holistic centres are known for their quality treatments and diverse offerings, and provide visitors with an appealing blend of Western design and relaxation concepts to complement the choice of traditional Asian therapies. On the spiritual side, thanks to the country's long-standing Buddhist traditions, Thailand also draws significant numbers of people looking to learn how to meditate and also those interested in learning the ancient art of Thai massage. This eclectic package of healthy holiday choices has allowed popular destinations like Phuket, Koh Samui and Chiang Mai to attract a whole new breed of visitor in the last few years.

As the global spa and wellness industry develops and diversifies, Thailand is firmly establishing itself as a leading choice for those looking to combine tourism and preventative health care. As a recognition of Thailand's significance as a gateway to wellness, conferences and exhibitions are now frequently hosted in the Kingdom. In September, for example, the World Spa & Well-Being Convention will take place at the IMPACT Exhibition & Convention Centre in Bangkok, an event that is expected to attract some 3,000 trade visitors, along with 400 congress delegates and 5,000 members of the public. Speakers will focus on the latest Asian spa industry trends, facilitating the exchange of industry knowledge, experience and best practices. The Expo will also connect exhibitors and visitors with international experts with know-how and expertise and provide a platform for local and international associations to meet, exchange views and discuss issues to leverage spa industry.

The essence of Thai wellness

Despite the growth and diversification of health and wellness approaches in Thailand, the Kingdom's most ancient healing art, Thai Massage, continues to be its most popular and commonly sought after treatment. The technique and the philosophy behind it have existed for thousands of years and are based on a blend of Ayurvedic medicine, Buddhist spiritual practice, and yoga, rather than the Western system of anatomy.

Starting from a position of external observation rather than internal dissection, Thai Massage is commonly described as an energy-based healing system. Practitioners use the term 'sen' to describe the pathways along which energy or 'lom' travels through and around the body, and their goal is to harmonise and clear any imbalances in that energy flow. The pathways are also often called meridians and the energy that moves through them referred to as 'Qi' (pronounced "chee"). As energy powers all our physical, mental, and emotional processes, Qi imbalances may present themselves physically in a number of ways. Pain, muscle cramping and stiffness, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, constipation, or disease are all common signs of energy imbalance. Conversely, when the energy system is working well, a person feels happy, relaxed, and free from pain.

Though strong differences exist between ancient Chinese acupuncture treatments and traditional Thai massage, there are also a number of similarities between them. Much like the needles used in acupuncture at various points on the body, a Thai massage therapist uses his or her fingers, palms, elbows, knees, and feet to clear energy blockages. It is believed that 72,000 channels course through the human body, but only ten of these pathways are considered major sen lines and are therefore the main focus of Thai massage. The sen begin and end at or near the navel, and energy travels in both directions along each sen. Examples of major sen lines in the body include Sen Sumana, which originates at the navel and travels to the tip of the tongue; Sen Sukhumang, which travels from the navel to the anus and Sen Sikhin, which travels from the navel to the urethra. Some sen also have different names depending on the sex of the patient. There is the Sen Pitakun running from the navel to the penis in menand Sen Kitcha running from the navel to the vagina in women.

Though complex in itself, Thai massage is only part of a much wider range of treatments that make up traditional Thai medicine. Ancient knowledge accumulated through years of experience, observation and testing has been handed down through the generations and many Thai people still use herbal medicine in their every day lives. A combination of massage, steam baths, hot compresses containing medicinal herbs, herbal medicinal plants, religious rites and mental healing are all commonly considered valuable approaches in Thailand, alongside Western medical practice.

Each year, more and more people from around the world also discover the health benefits of Thai traditional medicine, as it helps them attain improved physical and mental balance, which in turn supports better health and longevity.


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