Tuesday, October 18, 2011

الوسم : علاج بالنار AL Wasem: medicine of fire

Al wasem is a traditional Omani medical treatment used to cure a variety of illnesses.  This treatment was wide spread in use in the interior of Oman in the Dahirrah and Dakaliyya regions. Most villages had a wasem practitioner. In the past, when someone was sick the wasem "doctor" would visit the home of the patient. A steel or an iron rod about the size of a pencil was heated until red and then pressed into the flesh for two-to-three seconds at the appropriate place for healing on the patient's body. At one sitting, only two-to-three spots could be treated. Sometimes more than one session was necessary.

        Afterward, the wasaam practitioner would place ashes on the wound to seal and sooth. The wounds would take about two weeks to heal. The pain from the burns could last for six to ten days. On occasion, patients would drink milk or honey after treatments. The cost of wasm is about 10 to 15 OMR. Fire medicine has been said to be an effective treatment, and many stories of recovery have been reported. The burns caused by the treatment normally leaves scars on the patient. The treatment is rumored to have been in use for hundreds perhaps thousands of years.

       The interior villages had little access to modern medicine and hospitals until about thirty years ago.  Sometimes you can see small bald spots on the backside of men's heads in Oman. These marks maybe have been caused by scaring from wasem treatments. Wasem can be applied all over the body including feet and ears depending on the ailment. Normally, wasem is performed by a traditional healer who are experts in which areas of the body to be treated will cure the sickness. Most healers learned from their parents and grandparents. This treatment is still in practice today.  As far as I know, the Traditional Medicine Clinic in Muscat employs healers knowledgeable in the art. Some Omanis from villages are applying wasem as their primary or preferred treatment for illness.

Wasem treatment
Scars from wasem performed during childhood

Omani traditional medicine. wasm, wasem, medicine in the Sultanate of Oman. Oman Traditional Medicine Clinic.

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