A system of folk healing widely practised in Jamaica. The practitioner is called a 'balmist', 'balm lady' or 'balm man' . Most balmists maintain their own healing centre and church in a compound called a 'balmyard' though some will also travel to nearby places to hold services. The best balmists rely almost exclusively on native herbs (called 'bush') of which they have a thorough knowledge. They will 'read' or diagnose the patient by various means and their treatment usually includes bush baths as well as bush 'teas'. Balmyards are usually identified by a cluster of flags and banners. The practice of balm probably comes down to us through the old magico-religious cult of MYAL and is today identified with two groups, REVIVALISM and OBEAH, which are also associated with Myal. It should be noted, however, that a balmist might be a revivalist and/or an obeah practitioner, or might not be identified with either group.
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