Health Travel Magazine - Digest 2024

Traditional Arabic & Islamic Medicine: Zulal Wellness Resort’s approach to TAIM 

Dating back to the 7th century, Traditional Arabic and Islamic Medicine,  or TAIM, is a healing system which developed in the ancient Arab world and continues to pervade modern life. We spoke to TAIM expert Bibi Lockhat, a practitioner at Zulal Wellness Resort in Qatar, about how this newly opened resort has managed to honour its cultural heritage while applying those same principles to meet modern wellness demands. 

Traditional Arab and Islamic Medicine

Why was it so important to have TAIM at Zulal, and how much does it factor in guests’ decision to stay there? 

Zulal Wellness Resort is managed by Chiva Som in Thailand, where traditional Thai medicine is practiced, so when Zulal was created, there was a deep focus on using this region’s traditional healing system of TAIM.  

At Zulal, we’ve revived the old traditions, focusing on the Qatari heritage we are surrounded by. Locals come to deepen their practice, and other guests come solely because they want to learn more about TAIM.  

That’s the unique thing here, no one comes just for spa treatments or aesthetics; they want to focus on the holistic wellness journey, as well as education on the TAIM approach. 

What are the basic principles of TAIM and how do they influence people’s treatment plans? 

An important concept in TAIM is humoral theory. We look at the four elements of air, fire, earth and water, which assist us in finding what humors are present in the body. A balance between the humors ensures efficient metabolism and prevents a buildup of toxins. When there’s imbalance, we use our guest consultations to find what it is based on subjective questions. 

We also look at physical appearance, emotions, the type of fitness activities they do, and this gives us an insight into the constitution. It’s a very individualised, holistic approach; not every guest will have the same plan, and this is the uniqueness behind it.  

Zulal Wellness Resort Discovery Pool

What individual factors do you look at when treating clients? 

After we find out your dominant humor, we look at six essential factors. The first is exposure to atmospheric air. For a lot of our guests this very limited exposure because of the heat, with air con used instead, so we look at how that affects the hot versus the cold temperamental individuals.  

We look at the foods and drink. Each food item has a temperament or a humor linked to it, so we give them recommendations based on what is present in the body. 

We look at their fitness habits. People who have a hot temperament doing physical activity during the daytime will experience much more negative effects than a cold person, so we look at this and advise our guests on a fitness routine.  

We dive deeply into mental movement and rest. We assist our guests with healing practices such as meditation, yoga, we do beach or nature walks outdoors. We also assess sleep and wakefulness, which is so important. And the last one we focus on is elimination and digestion. This is very important when we look at how the body gets rid of certain toxins that might be stored within.  

What is a unique aspect or application of TAIM at Zulal?  

Facial hijama, or facial cupping therapy, has just launched in our aesthetic department. Silicone cups are used to create a youthful appearance in the skin – I would coin it the natural Botox treatment, so for guests who do not want invasive treatments, such as fillers, this is a natural treatment for them. It’s known to de-puff the face, release muscular tension, and assist in lymphatic drainage as well as sinusitis issues and headaches. It’s very beneficial for skin related disorders and acne as well.  

We did a lot of training and made sure the TAIM aspect was there, and we’ve found a lot of beneficial results. The approach we’ve taken is to introduce traditional practices alongside the Western. The main focus here at Zulal Wellness Resort is integrative holistic practice – it’s not that we’re saying goodbye to Western approaches and hello to traditional, it’s the culmination of the two.  

Zulal Wellness Resort Serenity Wellness Centre Treatment Room Hiram Treatment

How are TAIM principles integrated into the diet at Zulal? 

Humors are manufactured from the digestion of different foods and drinks, which are then processed and transformed in the liver. Every food we eat has a humor link to it. For example, chicken is a hot food, and a hot individual who eats lots of chicken may experience a heating imbalance. Looking at different foods and how they get digested in the body tells us about the humoral imbalance an individual can experience. 

We’ve worked closely with our chefs to develop a TAIM plan for different foods offered across the resort. For all our guests, we upload information stating whether they have a hot or cold temperamental imbalance, and then these chefs will put together a well-balanced meal to give them that nutritional balance, and also a humoral balance. 

Is TAIM just used to treat physical symptoms or is there also an emotional impact? 

Our focus at Zulal is on holistic wellness, getting deeply into the root cause as well as looking at physical symptoms, meaning our guests get the best treatment to focus on their mind, body, and spirit. 

We believe that emotions are linked to the body. We always ask ‘do you have a lot of anger?’, because anger is linked to the fire element, and so is the stomach, liver, and digestive system. It’s amazing that when we go back to psychosomatic symptoms present, it always starts in our mind and then physically manifests. 

Maybe there’s a trauma or something they’ve experienced that gets these emotions working inside and then manifests into physical symptoms, and I found that when I advise my guests or we give them certain treatments here, including energetic therapies, they have very good outcomes from that mindful approach. We also have a psychologist as well, which we will refer guests to if need be, and if they are open to it. 

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