As one of the world’s most famous styles of baths, the medicated bath of the Yao minority is a traditional Chinese healthcare method. It was listed as one of the World’s Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2008.
The medicated bath of the Yao minority is a method of bathing that originated in Congjiang County of Guizhou Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture and has been passed down for thousands of years. Due to the lack of medicine, the Yao ancestors invented the medicated bath to combat various diseases and medical ailments.
The formulas of the Yao minority’s medicated bath are different according to people’s needs, their respective health conditions, and even different seasons. According to the surveys of the Yao, there are about 188 traditional formulas for the treatment of 47 diseases. It is said that almost everyone in the village can recognize the plants required for the bath.
A traditional medicated bath requires several steps of preparation. First, the Yao people pick herbs from the remote mountains and forests and sort them by hand. Then the herbs are stewed into a medicinal soup following the order of “roots first, then branches, then leaves.” Afterwards, the soup is poured into a vat made of China fir, with moderate density and temperature. The bath-taker sits in the vat, lets the medical elements permeate throughout the body, and enjoys an increase in blood circulation and an expulsion of toxins.
The bath is especially effective for gynecopathy, skin diseases and colds.