There are two distinct kinds of Balinese medicine man here in Ubud (known as a ‘balian’ in Balinese, or ‘dukun’ in Indonesian).

The first, known as the ‘balian taksu’ is a kind of shaman or trance medium: he goes into a trance to communicate with the spirit world, and frequently chases away unwanted influences this way. The second, the ‘balian usada’, refers to sacred medical manuscripts, and uses massage techniques and traditional medicines made from plants and animals. He also works with a spiritual approach, drawing on intuition, visions, mantras and prayer to aid the healing process.

There are many medicine men in Ubud. Paying them a visit requires sensitivity and openness to the Balinese beliefs about the spirit world and the power of the invisible. You may need a dramatic leap of faith – the remedies can be unorthodox. Yet many visitors to Bali have found themselves cured by a local medicine man when no Western doctor was able to help.

Local healers operate either by a fixed fee or by donation. It’s best to ask in advance.