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Tea Leaves

Asian faith healer has lessons for modern medicine

Success of Bali 'bone-healer' highlights popular belief in traditional cures

"Bone healer" Mangku Sudarsana treats a patient at his clinic on the slopes of Bali's Mount Agung. (Photo by Ian Lloyd Neubauer)

Despite constant advances in modern medicine, hundreds of millions of people around the world still turn to traditional medicine. The phenomenon is vividly reflected in Southeast Asia, where superstitious beliefs remain a fact of life.

In the Hindu-majority island of Bali, "balians" -- holy men who allegedly use energy from the universe -- are called on to cure everything from colds to cancer. There is no empirical evidence of success. But there is one balian whose patients claim his methods provide far better outcomes than modern medicine. His name is Mangku Sudarsana, but he is known as the "bone healer."

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