A medical facility operated and managed by the nuns and volunteers of Druk Amitabha Mountain for the benefit of the community under the direction of His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa.

Tibetan Medicine

Written by Administrator

Tibetan system of medicine has its source in Buddha Himself. According to his teachings, all animate and inanimate phenomena have the same composition of five energies; earth, water, fire, air and space. The basic philosophy of Tibetan medicine establishes the sciences of anatomy, pathology and pharmacology on the basis of this theory of the five energies. This implies that both a disorder and its medication have the same material composition relying upon this knowledge, a physician treats the patient.

Philosophy of Tibetan medicine is entirely Buddhist. It is, therefore, believed that the cause of all suffering is ignorance in which gives rise to the three mental poisons of desire, hatred and closed mind. Each of these corresponds to imbalance [illness] of the three humours; wind, bile, phlegm. All beings have the three humours as essential constituents in their body and, in a healthy body; the balance between the three humours is maintained. When any one of the three humours is disturbed, or imbalanced, that is when disorder sets in and harms the body. In fact, it is said that a body can never be free of illness, unless the three mental poisons are eliminated, essentially this is only possible when ignorance is overcome.

Dr Dolkar seeing patients during the 2nd ADC.

In Tibetan medicine we believe that whether one is physically healthy or not, basically all of us are sick and even though the disease may not be manifest, it is present in a dormant from. This fact makes it difficult to fathom the scope of diseases. We believe thousands of different types of afflictive emotions, such as desire and hatred etc. have a corresponding effect on the body, causing different types of what people commonly term disorders.

According to Tibetan medicine there are 101 disorders that are influenced by the Karma (action) of ones past life. There are 101 disorders that have their causes in the early period of ones life however manifest only in the later part of ones life. There are 101 disorders involving spirit beings and there are 101 superficial disorders that can be corrected by simply following proper diet, or altering behavioral patterns that mitigate the need to go through medication and therapy.

Like other medical sciences. Tibetan medicine too has its own method of diagnosis. There are three basic means of diagnosis: questioning, visual and touch. The first involves queries about the patients case history. The second is the physical examination of the patient mainly scrutiny of the tongue and urine analysis. The third and by far the most accurate and unique method of diagnosis is the pulse reading. This is quite similar to the system used in homeopathy and Ayurveda. However the underlying understanding and philosophy is entirely different.

To become a doctor of Tibetan medicine, like all other medical sciences, a person has to undergo intensive training. There are four main medical manuals or Tantras. The first one is the Root tantra, which in Tibetan means introductory summary of Tibetan medicine, covering all subjects. The medical student has to memorize this text first. The second is the Explanatory Tantra, which elaborates how the body is formed of the five elements. If a human form does not maintain a diet composed of these five elements it ceases to be in a state of good health. This tantra also considers the qualities of a good doctor. One of the most essential qualities of being a good doctor is compassion. The third medical text is the Oral Tradition Tantra. This describes the symptoms and signs of diseases. Each disease is elaborated and considered in terms of the three part treatment; method, medicine and blessing of the Medicine Buddha. The fourth and the most important text is the subsequent Tantra which teaches urine and pulse diagnosis.

Apart from these four principal medical texts, there are hundreds of commentaries on the various aspects of Tibetan medicine, the knowledge of which the student has to acquire. Also, many of the doctors have recorded various interesting case findings with accurate diagrams and explanations in their memoirs. Such mines of information are passed down generation after generation and kept as reference material by the doctors. Unlike other systems of medicine, Tibetan doctors do not rely on the modern diagnostic machines solely.

Jigme Chostar, one of our nuns who is learning about Tibetan Medicine. Jigme Wangchen, one of our nuns who is learning about Tibetan Medicine.

Yet another unique and interesting aspect of the Tibetan system of medicine is that the doctor not only has to give correct diagnosis but also has to be a fully qualified pharmacologist. The doctor should be able to identify several hundreds of medicinal plants, flowers, roots, minerals etc. and are able to detoxify certain poisonous ingredients and compound them into appropriate medicines.

Last Updated on 07 July 2010