Using and practicing Non-conventional medicine-Part 1-Introduction & Talmudic examples

Using and practicing Non-conventional medicine-Part 1-Introduction & Talmudic examples:


There are various forms of non-conventional medicine or treatments available today.[1] Some people come to the use of alternative medicine out of despair of lack of solutions from medical science for their ailments, or due to a disregard of medical science, placing greater belief in nature and energy than scientific research. Aside for the public debate regarding these alternative practices and whether they are effective, moral, or useful to the patient, there is also a Halachic question relevant to many of these treatments. Non-conventional medicine and treatments can be divided to two forms:

  • Natural medicines [i.e. herbology or homeopathy] or physiological treatments [i.e. chiropractic].
  • Supernatural treatments such as energy healing, faith healing, amulets and incantations.

Hashkafa: The use of either form of unconventional treatment is subject to a Hashkafic question as to whether it is advised to go after these practices, in as much as the Torah has given permission for the Dr. to heal, and these treatments are not recognized by medical science. The Hashkafic aspect of this matter will be dealt with in Halacha D.

Halacha: The first form of non-conventional medicine or treatments is not subject to any halachic prohibition being that it does not work in a supernatural method. However, the second form of non-conventional medication or treatment is subject to a number of Halachic inquiries as to whether it is permitted according to Halacha. The subjects in Halacha that the second category of non-conventional medical practice touches upon are:[2]

  1. Darkei Emori
  2. Kishuf/sorcery
  3. Avoda Zara

Under certain conditions it is permitted to make use of an alternative medical treatment even though it is not understood by medical science, and involves unexplainable phenomenon, as the Torah does not prohibit an effective medical treatment simply due to it being unexplainable.

*For further research on these subjects please see the following articles mentioned in the footnotes.[3]

*Important note: The research to follow is an analyzation of the Halachic and Hashkafic perspective of using alternative medicine for a person whose life is not in danger. In a case that a person’s life is in danger, certain prohibitions may be pushed off for the sake of healing, as is always the case by a life-threatening illness, and thus an expert Rav is to be contacted.[4]


Non-conventional medicinal practices found in the Talmud and Poskim:

  • The egg of a locust called Chargel is a Segula against ear pain. It is hung on the ear that is in pain in order to relieve it.[5]
  • The tooth of a live fox is a Segula against oversleeping. It is hung on a person that is sleeping too much in order for him to awaken.[6]
  • The tooth of a dead fox is a Segula for falling asleep. It is hung on a person that is having trouble falling asleep in order for him to sleep.[7]
  • A wood nail used for crucifixion is a Segula for healing a swollen area due to being hit by a metal object.[8]
  • Certain stones and gems have healing powers and are used to heal certain ailments.[9] The Tekuma stone when worn is a Segula to prevent a woman from having a miscarriage.[10]
  • The Ruda plant is a Segula against Ayin Hara and sorcery. It is carried by the person and helps heal someone who is under a bad spell.[11]
  • A certain Kemia was known to have the power to make a person vomit his food. Whenever someone would consume poison this Kemia would be written and the person would vomit and have his life saved.[12]
  • Feeding the liver of a rabid dog to one who was bitten.[13]

Coming up in future parts of this series:

  1. The prohibition of Darkei Emori:
  2. Kishuf/Sorcery/idolatry:
  3. Having a gentile give the forbidden treatment:
  4. Hashkafa: Should one follow after the permitted non-conventional treatments that work based on Segula


[1] See here for a list.

[2] Minchas Yitzchak 6/80

[3] Shlezinger institute:;

[4] For a general article on when the prohibitions of Darkei Emori; Kishuf are pushed off in a acse of life threatening illness, see the following article by Rabbi/Dr. Mordechai Halperin of the Shlezinger institute.

[5] Admur 301/33; Michaber 301/27; Mishneh Shabbos 67a

[6] Admur 301/33; Michaber 301/27; Mishneh Shabbos 67a

[7] Admur 301/33; Michaber 301/27; Mishneh Shabbos 67a

[8] Admur 301/33; Michaber 301/27; Mishneh Shabbos 67a

[9] Rabbeinu Bechayeh Tetzaveh 28/15 explains how each one of the stones on Chosehn, corresponding to each Shevet, held special healing powers and Segulos; See also Pesech Dvir 301/9, brought in Kaf Hachaim 301/137 that a certain stone was used to heal an eye ailment.

[10] Michaber 303/24

[11] Kikar Laeden  p. 281; Ruach Chaim 301/2brought in Kaf Hachaim 301/135

[12] Birkeiy Yosef 301/6; Zera Emes 3/123; Kaf Hachaim 301/138

[13] Rambam Pirush Hamishnayos 8/4; Birkeiy Yosef 301/6

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