Hilot therapy – the ancient Philippine art of healing

Hilot therapy is a traditional folk medical practice you can meet on Siquiоor island. A practicing hilot (mangikhilot) treats the whole person, not just his illnesses. Hilot includes various alternative medical methods – such as herbal medicines, chiropractic, and acupressure. Since ancient times, people have used Hilot as an effective treatment system.

Body as a miniature universe

Hilot identifies the human body as a small universe or microcosm. The doctrine considers that the Universe consists of primary elements of Fire, Water, Air, and earth. The human body also shares the same components. Each piece corresponds to certain biological parts of the body.

Correcting the “imbalance” of the elements in the body

An imbalance causes diseases in some aspects of the body. The Hilot Therapist, called Manghihilot has many techniques that he can use to correct the “imbalance” of the elements in his patient’s body. This method includes treating with natural medicines.

Plants to fight diseases

It primarily comprises various herbs and fruits that are now scientifically proven to treat and cure specific ailments. Practitioners of Hilot Therapists are widely known for their extensive botanical knowledge. They use various plants to fight diseases.

Some of these include lemongrass and bamboo roots to neutralize toxins and excess fat. They use guava leaves as an antibacterial agent and boiled sweet potatoes (Camote) to cleanse intestinal toxins.

Hilot massage techniques

In addition to a deep knowledge of herbs, the art of Hilot uses massage techniques. Massage relieves simple muscle pains, increases blood flow in our body, and even helps with mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Energy in the human body

According to the concept of Init-Lamig (hot and cold), Mangihilot can influence the flow of neuroelectric energy in the human body. This natural electrical energy within us is responsible for the mechanical functions of organs and muscles, the conversion of food into energy, and the complex communication network of our central nervous system.

Hilot healers techniques

Healers use different techniques to distribute the nerve electricity to all body areas properly. In terms of diagnosis, manghihilot relies mainly on general knowledge regarding their patients.

Manghihilot must be careful observers for outward signs of imbalance in their patients. In addition, they use a practical way of knowing the patient’s illness from the structure, shape, color, and consistency of feces, urine, sweat, and other bodily fluids.

Holistic approach in Hilot

Manghihilots believe that hilot includes an internal method that heals a person from the inside out, implementing a holistic approach. They cure not only the disease but the person himself. Balancing the four elements that affect a person’s physical and spiritual aspects is vital.


Body diagnostics

Mangihilot intuitively scans the body with the touch of a hand to diagnose energetically imbalanced areas. With this information, the healer will focus on areas that need to be worked on to provide balance and relief. Each session is unique due to the focus on treating problem areas.

Hilot’s goal is to identify problems 

Hilot is not the typical massage that a person would look for as a relaxation form of sensory therapy. For this reason, you are unlikely to find this type of massage on a typical spa massage menu. Its goal is to identify problems in the body and correct them. A Hilot session can lead to stress relief and relaxation of tight muscles, but the massage itself may be less relaxing. It causes some discomfort in deep tissues. It’s about getting to the source of the pain and regaining balance.

The doctor will check the pulse (strength, weakness, etc.) to determine which of the four elements (air, earth, fire, or water) is missing or predominating.

Rituals in Hilot

Hilot Healing has a spiritual element in its roots. The Mangihilot repeats a humble ceremony or ritual before starting treatment, seeking help from their ancestors. This ritual should be a reflection as well as a tribute.

Hilot’s therapies

Hilot’s therapies include herbal treatments, massage, cupping, and stress management. The tools that can be a part of the Chiropractic treatment are coconut oil or coconut, banana leaves, and initial on body strips as a cleansing antiseptic. As well as various massage devices to help restore pressure in body tissues and stretch tense muscles.

Stone massage as a part of Hilot

A unique form of massage is stone massage. The master individually chooses the type and size of stones for massage, their shape, and temperature. Stones can be either heated or cooled. The rocks come into contact with particular points on the patient’s body, leading to the expansion or narrowing of blood vessels, having the desired effect on the body.

Harmony between man and nature

Mangihilot also includes healing the relationship between man and nature and synchronizing their minds, emotions, and actions to prevent conflicts that can cause chaos within themselves. More importantly, true healing is impossible without rethinking our values and embracing the path of goodness. Achieving a harmonious connection with both universal and natural law will not only make a person healthy. Still, it will also provide answers to understanding how we are all connected, being part of something greater.

You can experience Hilot healing treatments for yourself by visiting Siquijor Island, or it can be part of a 15-day Philippine Islands itinerary.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and does not replace advice, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed physician. You should seek medical attention for any health concerns and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or changing your regimen.

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