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16:43 Dec 15 2008

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Tibetan Medicine
13:30, December 12, 2008  

About Tibetan Medicine

The Tibetan Science of Healing - "Sowa Rigpa" in Tibetan - has been taught and practiced throughout Central Asia for more than 2500 years. The best elements of Indian ayurvedic, Chinese, Greek and other medical traditions are integrated with Tibetan practices in a coherent and powerful system.

The first teacher of Tibetan medicine pointed out that all beings desire happiness and seek to avoid suffering, and that the causes and conditions of disease arise out of this desire/avoidance tendency. While the energies may be out of balance and impeded in their flow due to poor diet, emotional shock or trauma, fatigue, tension, over-work, exposure to bad weather, micro-organisms as well as spiritual, immediate and remote, all these causes can be traced to the "three poisons" -- that is, desire, hatred and ignorance -- which arise from self-grasping. Ultimately the causes of disease can be traced specifically to primordial ignorance (that is, seeing the self and things in a way in which they do not really exist), which generates mental states leading to rebirth and to the causes and conditions of disease.

Tibetan medicine is a vast and eminently "holistic" or "complementary" healing system in which the human body is considered to be based on the "five cosmic energies" (space, air, fire, water, earth). The biological intermediaries of these five are called the "three humors," wind, bile and phlegm, which govern the functions of the body (rlung, tripa, badkan, in the Tibetan construct). Each of these three is considered to be a sort of energy or force, which circulates through the different channels, organs, tissues and coordinating centers of the body. These 3 energies are further divided into 15 different energies, 5 of each and has the potency to cause disease when out of balance.

Herbal supplements are given to correct any imbalances that are found and to remove impediments to energetic flow. Recommendations for changing diet and lifestyle are also given. In some cases moxabustion and acupuncture is used to add heat and circulation.

Together these methods work to optimize the energetics of the body and mind, enabling them to heal themselves.

Tibetan Medicine

As one of the oldest medical traditions in the world, Tibetan medicine is gradually being brought into the limelight as Tibetan culture draws much public attention both at home and abroad. Dating back 2500 years, the Tibetan medical tradition has developed its own unique healing practices. In the 8th century, the renowned Tibetan physician, Yutok Yonten Gonpo, produced the Four Medical Tantras, known as Goo-Shee, after combining the medical knowledge of Tibet with that of China, India, Nepal and Persia. His descendant, the younger Yuthok, wrote eighteen supplemental medical works. At that time the traditional principles of Tibetan medicine had been established. Mentsekhang (the Tibet Traditional Hospital), founded in 1916 by the 13th Dalai Lama, was and still is the Tibetan physicians' training center.

By synthesizing knowledge from the above medical systems with their own, Tibetans have come up with their own approach to medical science. Ignorance of the five basic elements, namely earth, air, fire, water, and space, which interact with each other, is deemed as the cause of disease and disorders in Tibetan medical tradition. The cure lies in the capability of balancing these elements. Good health also depends on the proper balance of diet, behavior, environment, and psychological and social factors, according to the Tibetan medical system. Tibetans even applied Thangka illustrations many centuries ago to explain their medical theory through intuition. Some of the ancient medical Thangkas can still be found in Mentsekhang in Lhasa today. (Thangka, seen in every monastery and family shrine in Tibet, is actually kind of Tibetan scroll-banner painting and a unique art of Tibetan culture. Thangka generally falls into several categories according to techniques involved, namely painted Thangka, weaving Thangka, embroidery Thangka, paster Thangka, and etc. Among them painted Thangkas are most commonly seen. )

Diagnostic techniques used in Tibetan medical tradition basically involve interviewing of the patient, urinalysis, and pulse reading. A Tibetan doctor first speaks to the patient and finds out his medical record. Urinalysis helps the doctor to confirm the nature of illness by the color and odor of the urine specimen and the size, color, amount and persistence of bubbles after vigorous stirring of the specimen. Reading the pulse is a crucial factor for diagnosis as the doctor checks it to further define the illness. Herbal and mineral medicines are the main treatments while other physical therapies, like acupuncture and phlebotomy (Phlebotomy - the act or practice of opening a vein by incision or puncture to remove blood as a therapeutic treatment. Also called venesection.) may also be used after the illness is clearly diagnosed.

Native Products in Tibet

Aweto As the name suggests, aweto is a kind of worm in winter, while, in summer, it turns into a kind of grass. Aweto is a good tonic, also an ideal remedy of treating long-time cough & weakness, asthma, sputum with blood, ache of knees & waist as well as impotence & emission. The tonic also has a great potential of preventing & fighting against cancer and promoting beings' immuning capability.

Direction: It is fit to be braised with chicken or duck, also suitable to be dunked into wine.

Snow Lotus Flower Growing in the snowy area with an altitude of 3500-5000 meters northeast Tibet, the natural pure wild Snow Lotus Flower is an antipyretic & detoxicating medicine, and usually used to get rid of rheumatism, complete subsidence of a swelling, stop ache, enrich the blood, warm uterus, cure impotence, recover weak kidney as well.

Usage: 50g of Snow Lotus Flower and 500ml of wine mix together for a period of ten days. A drinking of everyday 30-50ml is appropriate. Also you can take 9-15g Snow Lotus Flower for boiling, drinking the flower extract will benefit you. If you are wounded, just grind the flower into flour and apply the flour to your wound.

Tibetan Safflower: Used to invigorate the circulation of blood, stop ache, cool blood, enrich the blood, etc.It has a good curative effect on haematemesis, macula, warm blood, amenorrhoea, postpartum hemorrhage and bellyache as well as injuries from falls.

Red Orpin: mainly functions as an antipyretic and a medicine of reducing phlegm. Tibetan Red Orpin can invigorate the circulation of blood and stop bleeding, having two-way regulation function of nerve system and internal system. It is also characterized by anti-caducity, anti-fatigue and intellectual promotion. Outer applications involve in injuries from falls and scald.

Tibetan Mushroom: Diuretic and water -excreting medicine.

Pearl Seventy (Qishi): The Tibetan nostrum consists of 70 rear medicinal materials such as pearl, Tibetan Red Flower, bezoar, etc. It can be able to soothe the nerves, adjust blood pressure, and mainly used to cure paralysis, falling sickness and dottiness.

Changjue: Tibetan nostrum

Principal composition: Tibetan red flower, muskiness and other tens of rare Tibetan medicinal materials

Functions: cure chronic gastricism and gastric ulcer

Aweto Health-Preserving Pill: Mainly consists of tens of precious medicinal material such as aweto, palm ginsheng, fruit of Chinese magnolia vine, etc. The pill can prevent arteriosclerosis, lower blood fat and so on.

Twenty-Five-flavor Coral Pill: made of coral, mother-of-pearl, bird's sternum, liquorice agate, Tibetan red flower, muskiness and other rare natural Tibetan medicinal materials.

Functions: Twenty-Five-Flavor Coral Pill is applied to such diseases as high pressure, cerebral concussion, neurasthenia, hemicrania, falling sickness, dizziness ,especially, it has outstanding treatment effect on cerebral diseases and nerve headache.

Source:China Tibet Tourism Bureau

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