Faith healers are medical laypersons who use their knowledge of folk medicine and generally see their faith healing as a form of praying or link it closely to the use of prayers. Many ask the person seeking help or their relatives to pray as well in order to strengthen the effect.
Healing for them is a God-given talent that they practise in private in addition to their primary occupation. Faith healers are recommended to others based on people’s own experiences or on reports of successful «treatments». Patients come from all layers of society and most are native Swiss residents.
Faith healers must have empathy, compassion and a sense of justice. No fees may be requested otherwise the talent may be lost. However, those seeking help generally feel they should give something. The healers know that although it is forbidden to ask for anything, there is nothing that forbids them from accepting gifts.
Faith healers can also work at a distance even where the sick person knows nothing about their actions. Faith healers are most frequently consulted in cases of fever, inflammation, pain, skin conditions and before and after operations in order to promote healing and calm the patient. A particular specialty is the dispelling of homesickness.
In the case of stubborn dermatological conditions it is often a faith healer who is consulted and the best time for calming the affected skin is during a waning moon.
In many cases faith healers are consulted alongside conventional therapies. Faith healers are often sought by farmers to help with livestock illnesses.
The healing power is passed down from generation to generation. Normally transcriptions of the healing spells are handed on and the old books of spells are destroyed.
There are currently around 30 faith healers in Appenzell Innerrhoden who relieve pain and homesickness, stop bleeding and banish warts and other skin diseases. They use secret healing spells and blessings, some of which go back to late mediaeval times. In dialect they say that these individuals «tuet fö Hitz ond Brand», i.e. they use supernatural powers to cure fevers and heal burns.