In Appenzell Innerrhoden there are non-medical healers who use secret ancestral healing chants and blessings to alleviate pain, relieve fever, calm the blood, drive away warts or extinguish the “fire”. The healing power is passed down through the generations, but the faith healers are not allowed to charge a fee for their services.
Due to a favourable (Catholic) environment, the tradition of healing has remained particularly popular in the canton of Appenzell compared to other regions. It is, however, still practised in Central Switzerland and French-speaking Switzerland, particularly in the cantons of Jura and Fribourg. The healers either consider their services to be a prayer or they practise them with a deep personal connection to prayer. It is difficult to estimate the significance of faith healing within the health system. Even though most people in the canton are aware of this medical “sub-culture”, the practice is a phenomenon largely kept from public view. However, a great number of people have personal stories to tell of baffling, unexpected recovery after a visit to a faith healer.