News & Blogs
December 10 2021

The Traditional Hilot Massage: Does It Really Work?

The Philippines holds numerous traditions and superstitious beliefs that have strongly been established as cultural. From childhood, Filipinos are exposed to them through common practices as they are passed on from generation to generation. These include visiting a “manghihilot” when they contract a fever or suffer from body pains.
Despite modern medicine becoming the norm when seeking treatment for diseases, many still continue this traditional healing practice due to the cultural beliefs behind it. But is this method of healing truly as effective as traditionalists claim it to be? What are the possible benefits can it provide a person’s body?

What is a hilot massage?

The term “hilot” commonly refers to the rubbing or providing pressure on the muscles and joints as a way to promote body healing. This traditional healing practice is more often performed by elderlies referred to as healers.
However, unlike services from a spa, a hilot massage is believed to restore harmony and balance inside a person’s body to rid of pilay, which translates to “something wrong with the bones and joints.” This means that rather than focusing on relaxation, this method aims to provide treatment.
More often, a manghihilot can be found in the many provinces of the Philippines as it is seen as a low-cost healing alternative. It is also said to have emerged from the shamanic traditions of Filipino ancestry dating back as far as pre-colonial times. The practice also holds strong beliefs that the majority of illnesses and bodily pains are caused by imbalances inside the body.

How does it work?

Hilot massages work with the application of acupressure massage and herbal medication, and the practice may differ per healer and geographic location.
During a session, the healer generally checks certain areas of the body to determine any signs of abnormalities and imbalances within the skeletal and muscular structures. This can be done by detecting differences in body temperatures or pulse rate, among others, to determine the severity of any perceived underlying conditions.
Generally, the treatment sessions start when the healer chants to invoke and acknowledge the natural powers of divinity and healing. Once done, they will use coconut oil or extracts from banana leaves combined with other herbal ingredients that promote healing effects. This mixture is then kneaded into the body of the person to help loosen tight muscles and nerves.
This method is commonly practiced as it is believed to rejuvenate the individual’s internal energy and release aches, soreness, and stress from the body. Depending on the severity of the person’s condition, the treatment can also involve pain. But despite this, Filipinos are still willing to undergo such treatment because it is said to promote faster healing without major side effects.
In some cases, the individual may be given a special herbal brew before the session to provide some relief to the pain.

The Health Benefits of Hilot

While medical science is considered to be far superior to traditional healing practices, hilot is believed to have a few benefits that make the experience worth trying.
  • Relieves muscle pain

More commonly, Filipinos seek out the aid of a healer to relieve themselves of persistent muscle aches. This healing method can be done on both adults and children.
  • Alleviates pain from pinched nerves

A hilot massage can target pinched nerves and surrounding areas to reduce body pain accumulated from stress and work. It can also help reduce swelling from these problems and promote instant relief.
  • Aids in giving birth

Healers can be called to help a mother deliver their child safely throughout the stages of giving birth.
  • Helps mothers recover from childbirth

Getting a hilot massage after labor can help a mother’s body to relax and improve circulation. At the same time, it can also offer emotional relief and lower levels of stress hormones.
  • Restores balance and harmony in the body

A hilot massage is believed to help a person gain more inner balance. In some cases, people seek it to deal with issues related to spiritual beliefs.
  • An effective way to de-stress

Like other types of massages people regularly get at spas, many Filipinos find this traditional form of healing relaxing post-treatment.
  • Enhanced lifestyle

A hilot aims to rid the body of ailments and other problems, allowing individuals to focus on daily activities better. Similar to other therapeutic massages, it is believed to be an effective way to improve overall health and wellness.
  • Reduces fatigue

When a hilot massage reduces your ailments, the body’s balance is restored, allowing an individual to gain better quality sleep. At the same time, this treatment is also believed to help boost a person’s general mood.
  • Eliminates toxins

As the healer stimulates your body, toxins are believed to be released through blood circulation, which can help promote faster healing in the process.
  • Gain better flexibility

Just like other types of therapeutic massages, a hilot massage relaxes your muscles and joints so that you can gain a wider range of movement.

The magic of hilot

Traditional healing has often been questioned in the world of modern medicine, and it would be best to classify this as a type of therapeutic massage. However, this does not mean that you should ignore the advantages of these practices entirely. When done by a professional, a hilot massage can provide several healing benefits to the body.
For more serious muscle and bone conditions that need medical attention, reach out to any of the orthopedic doctors at Makati Medical Center today for world-class healthcare and services.