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Complementary therapies in Thailand: Which are the most popular?


Complementary therapies in Thailand: Which are the most popular?

Thailand is home to some of the world’s best health and wellness retreats, and it’s easy to find practitioners who specialize in most complementary and alternative medicines (CAM). Traditional Thai and Chinese medicine are respected in the country. In fact, the government promotes traditional medicine through public healthcare schemes and research initiatives. Hospitals in Thailand also offer CAM in addition to conventional medicine. Some health insurance policies in Thailand even cover some forms of CAM. 

As CAM continues to grow in popularity, many people wonder: what is CAM, and what makes complementary therapies appealing? Essentially, CAM helps support natural healing and largely focuses on drug-free alternatives. Here’s a closer look at the most popular complementary therapies in Thailand from our friends at Pacific Prime Thailand.

What types of CAM are available in Thailand? 

From aromatherapy and massage to osteopathy and acupuncture, most types of CAM can be found in the Land of Smiles. With an estimated 6,000 or so hospitals in Thailand offering CAM, finding a specialist for your needs should be easy. 

Traditional Thai, Chinese, and Indian medicine

Traditional Thai, Chinese, and Indian medicine are easily the most popular and extensive forms of CAM. Through a holistic health approach, these medicines focus on getting to the root causes of illnesses and diseases. Once the root cause is determined, the body’s internal system can then be rebalanced to promote healing and good health. 

Traditional Thai medicine (TTM)

The ancient practice of Traditional Thai medicine (TTM) combines bodywork practices, herbal medicine, and spiritual healing. Similar to Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, TTM is a holistic healing system that uses a variety of practices, from massage and meditation to herbs and cupping.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) 

TTM and Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) share many similarities, with popular treatments that include acupressure, acupuncture, cupping, and medical herbalism. TCM is also famous for Qigong techniques and many turn to TCM practitioners for nutritional advice as well. TCM practitioners in Thailand are often found in public and private hospitals and clinics.  

Traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda) 

Another ancient holistic practice, Ayurveda combines nutrition, exercise, and spiritual practice to maintain a healthy body. Like TTM and TCM, treatments include bodywork, herbal medicines, and practices like meditation and yoga. Ayurveda emphasizes detoxification and balancing the entire system. Though it is less common than Thai and Chinese traditional medicine, Ayurvedic doctors can still be found in many hospitals, clinics, and wellness resorts throughout the country. 


One traditional Chinese practice that has gained worldwide popularity is acupuncture, which is commonly used for pain management and nausea relief. Acupuncturists can easily be found in most places, alongside other TCM practices. Similarly, many clinics and hospitals in Thailand have therapists who specialize in acupuncture. Since acupuncture involves needles, expats may be concerned about hygiene and safety. It’s advisable to only go to acupuncturists who are trained and licensed in compliance with Thai regulations. 

Thai massage

Thai massage combines Ayurvedic principles, yoga postures, and acupressure to relax the entire body. Often described as acupuncture without the needles, acupressure involves the manipulation of specific pressure points on the body to alleviate ailments. Thai massage is widely practiced throughout Thailand and offered virtually everywhere, from small massage shops and clinics to hospitals and high-end resorts. 

If you’re seeking Thai massage for medical reasons rather than relaxation, be sure to find one that is certified by the Department of Health Support Services. It’s worth noting that chiropractic and osteopathy treatment in Thailand usually overlap with traditional Thai massage and bodywork and manual therapies. Practitioners often use a combination of techniques and can be found in most major cities. 

Homeopathy and naturopathy 

Homeopathic and naturopathic practitioners may be less common than traditional medicines, but there are still clinics and spas that provide these treatment modalities. While naturopathy in Thailand falls under natural medicine, homeopathy has yet to be recognized, and therefore regulated, by the Thai FDA. It can, however, be offered as a complementary treatment accompanying regulated medical practice. 

Finding a CAM practitioner in Thailand 

A quick internet search for CAM practitioners in Thailand will bring up many results. However, language barriers might be an issue. That is, unless you go to a hospital, clinic, or wellness resort that caters to tourists and expats. Since these places can cost a lot more than their predominantly Thai counterparts, it’s advisable to ensure your health insurance policy covers the CAM therapy you’re after beforehand. 

Whether you’re looking for the best health insurance for expats in Thailand or globally, Pacific Prime can compare health insurance plans to help you find the right policy for your needs and budget. Contact Pacific Prime Thailand for expert advice or a free plan comparison and quote today. 

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