Traditional Maldivian Medicine - Knowledge Worth Preserving

Traditional medicines, or ‘dhivehi beys’ are an integral part of our heritage in the Maldives. They are glimpses into the many influences that Maldives had throughout its long history. As an island nation that lies scattered across the vast Indian ocean and isolated from the rest of the world, Maldivians survived and flourished through adaptability and resilience. We developed an intimate knowledge of the natural cycles of nature, and the benefits of the diverse flora and fauna in the nation. Most importantly, the traditional medicine system is a product of our deeply intimate relationship with the natural environment- the knowledge that lets us walk into the woods with nothing, and return with handfuls of healing plants. 
Maldivians believe that every plant, vine, flower, and root are blessings, with its own unique properties. Our woods were our pharmacies, and in it we found healing and nourishment. Our intimate knowledge of the flora, combined with the ancient healing knowledge of travellers from all corners of the world, created the local traditional medicine system of Dhivehi Beys, also famously called ‘Dweep Unani’ in some areas. 
Dhivehi Beys is based upon the philosophy that good health is a balance of proper ‘humours’ in the body. Dhivehi Beys’ holistic approach and techniques to healing is a window into the many influences from Arab, Persian, Indian, and Ancient Greek traditions. The system indicates that the ancient world was more connected than we previously assumed, and that the scattered isles of the Maldives, perched at a crossroads of these ancient civilizations. 
El Sheikh el Hakeem Ahmed Didi from Seenu Atoll laid the groundwork for Dhivehi Beys as it is practised today in his notable book “Tibbi Fuqara fee hikamadhil Umara’. The book continues to guide aspiring practitioners today. Like most traditional knowledge, the ancient system of Dhivehi Beys may have disappeared if not for those who carried the tradition through word of mouth and recorded it down on paper. The Maldivian government also recognizes the value of traditional medicine and is deeply dedicated to preserving the tradition. There are several practitioners currently in the Maldives, and Dhivehi Beys is popular amongst Maldivians for conditions ranging from simpler issues such as  digestive problems and body pain, to more serious illnesses such as arthritis. 
In recent years, the Maldives’ tourism industry has also sought to integrate traditional Maldivian elements into the industry in a meaningful and impactful way. One of those is the integration of traditional medicinal techniques into wellness packages for visitors. 
Veli Spa in Kurumba Maldives 
The first spa in Maldives to incorporate elements from Dhivehi Beys in their spa treatments.  Their signature treatment ‘Akaraka Theyo Dhemun’ uses traditional local herbs to improve blood circulation, strengthen tissues, and muscles, and relieve tightness in the body. Veli Spa remains committed to learning from traditional healers and providing tourists with a genuine glimpse of Maldivian traditional healing. 
Javvu Spa and Wellness at Amilla Maldives 
Pioneering a combination of traditional and modern medicine, Amilla sends apprentices to neighbouring local islands to study traditional medicine with local practitioners. “Thamburu & Mirihi” massage uses a special paste which is applied onto the back. The plants have powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. The massage focuses on releasing muscle tension and reduces swelling. 
ELE | NA SPA & WELLNESS at Ozen Reserve Bolifushi
The team at this spa is working towards blending local healing traditions with cutting-edge international spa and wellness practices. They are currently in the process of introducing visiting traditional medical practitioners into the wellness experience in Ozen. The resort also encourages locals to take part in the spa and wellness sector and continue the tradition of indigenous healing. 
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