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Tibetan Medicine

-- Tibetan medicine is a science, art and philosophy

Tibetan medicine is a traditional medical system over two thousand years that employs a complex approach to diagnosis, incorporating techniques such as pulse analysis and urinalysis, and utilizes behavior and dietary modification and natural materials such as herbs and minerals and physical therapies as Tibetan acupuncture to treat illness. It aims to free individuals from both physical disease and ignorance.

The Tibetan medical system is based upon a synthesis of the Indian, Persian, Greek, and Chinese medical systems, and it continues to be practiced in Tibet, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Ladakh, Siberia, China and Mongolia, as well as more recently in parts of Europe and North America. It embraces the traditional Buddhist belief that all illness ultimately results from the three poisons of the mind: ignorance, attachment and aversion.

Three principles of function

rLung (Wind) is one of the three principle energies of the body, which manifests the nature of Air element. It is rough, light, cold, subtle, hard and mobile. It is responsible for the physical and mental activities, respiration, expulsion of urine, feces, fetus, menstruation, and spitting, burping, speech, gives clarity to sense organs, sustains life by means of acting as a medium between mind and body.
mKhris-pa basically has the nature of fire. It is oily, sharp, hot, light, fetid, purgative and has fluidity. mKhris-pa is responsible for hunger, thirst, digestion and assimilation, promotes bodily heat, gives luster to body complexion and provides courage and determination.
Bad-kan is cold in nature and is oily, cool, heavy, blunt, smooth, firm and sticky. Bad-kan is responsible for firmness of the body, stability of mind, induces sleep, connects bodily joints, generates tolerance and lubricates the body.

Drawing of Three Anatomical Figures

Drawing of Three Anatomical Figures

Diagnosis in Tibetan Medicine

The diagnostic techniques include visual observation, touch and interrogation.

Visual Observation

It involves checking a patient's skin complexion, the color and texture of his/her blood, nails, sputum, feces, and other general conditions. Special attention is paid to the condition of the patient's tongue and urine.


Pulse reading forms the most important touching method employed in Tibetan medicine. Only after ensuring an important set of preconditions, the physician proceeds with a pulse diagnosis. This involves placing the three middle fingers at patient's radial arteries.


Interrogation forms the most important clinical aspect of the diagnosis. There are three main elements to a medical interrogation:

* determining the causative factors

* determining the site of the illness

* studying the signs and symptoms: this involves the doctor asking the patient about the sort of food and drink s/he has been consuming, and what kind of physical and mental behavior s/he has been experiencing.

Traditional Tibetan Medical Treatments

Dietary and Lifestyle Factors
At an immediate level, a disorder is primarily caused by an improper diet and/or lifestyle. In fact, a majority of health problems, both in developing and developed countries, can be either directly or indirectly traced to poor diet or lifestyle. Examples of this include alcoholism, hypertension and heart disease. The first form of treatment in Tibetan medicine is thus not medicines but changing a patient's diet and/or lifestyle. Only if this fails to remedy an ailment is the use of medicines considered.

Tibetan Medicines

Tibetan medicines take various forms, from decoctions, powders, general pills, precious pills, and syrups, and are prescribed in small doses -- a fact that reflects the emphasis Tibetan medicine places on gentle treatment.

So we can see that Tibetan medicine is a science, art and philosophy provides a holistic approach to health care.

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