Healing is a sub-skill of waterbending which involves healing wounds by redirecting energy paths (or chi) throughout the body, using water as a catalyst. In rare occasions, waterbenders may instinctively be able to access this ability without any formal training, even able to heal themselves.
After Avatar Aang ignored Jeong Jeong's warnings, he accidentally burned Katara due to lack of control over his firebending. Seeking to soothe the pain, Katara put her hands down in a creek, only to see the water around her hands glow silvery-blue and heal her. Having accidentally discovered this new ability, Katara used it again later that day to heal a burn on Aang's forearm, after a fight with Zhao.
After the Hundred Year War, there were male healers as well. As Korra's waterbending teacher, Katara had also passed the art of healing onto Korra, and she used it to heal Bolin's shoulder after it was injured in the third round of the Fire Ferrets' semifinal match in the Pro-bending Tournament. She used the technique once more when she healed General Iroh's injury he sustained during his fight against the Equalists' attack on Republic City. When Korra had lost her bending due to Amon, she sought out Katara in order to be healed by her, but even she, known as the world's best healer, was unable to restore the Avatar's bending.
Healers are quite prominent in Republic City and the best of them were visited by Tahno after his bending was taken from him by Amon. After Tarrlok fabricated evidence of a fight with the Equalists in City Hall, a healer was brought in to treat his arm, which he had used an electrified glove on to strengthen his alibi.
Physically, healing draws on the restorative properties of water in organisms that are primarily composed of it, such as human beings. Though unusually strong and powerful, waterbending induced healing cannot heal every ailment, for example, Jet's internal wounds or the complications associated with Princess Yue's birth. It is shown that healing is ineffective on a person who has had their chi flow blocked or otherwise disrupted; Katara was unable to help a Terra Team member who had been a victim of Ty Lee's chi blocking skills, and not even the best healers could restore bending lost through bloodbending, as demonstrated by failed attempts by Republic City's best healers to restore Tahno's, and Katara's to restore Korra's.
So far, waterbending induced healing has been shown to work on physical injuries, such as burns (Toph's feet and Katara's own hands), lacerations (Hakoda's injury during the Day of Black Sun), broken bones (Sokka's left arm), diseases brought on by severe pollution (Jang Hui villagers), and severe tissue damage caused by lightning bolts (Aang and Zuko); it has even shown to counteract mental distress and tampering (Jet). The healing abilities of a waterbender appear to be influenced by the water they use: when using a special water from the Spirit Oasis in the North Pole, Katara was able to save Aang's life after he was mortally wounded from being struck by lightning (though he remained in a coma for a few weeks and required follow-up healing sessions to cope with the pain and be restored to full health).
Known practitioners Edit
- Due to the dissipation of the Southern Water Tribe waterbenders and the tradition of the Northern Water Tribe to restrict the female benders to hone the vitakinetic sub-skill of waterbending, the healers around 100 ASC were all female. Seventy years later, however, a male healer used his skills on Tarrlok.