Tibetan Medicine

tree of therapy and treatment

Tibetan Medicine is a science, art and philosophy that provides a holistic approach to health care.

  • It is a science because its principles are enumerated in a systematic and logical framework based on an understanding of the body and its relationship to the environment.
  • It is an art because it uses diagnostic techniques based on the creativity, insight, subtlety and compassion of the medical practitioner.
  • And, it is a philosophy because it embraces the key Buddhist principles of altruism, karma and ethics.

Buddhist philosophy states that everything in the universe is in a constant state of flux. That all phenomenon are characterized by impermanence, and that the only permanent feature is impermanence itself. As the Buddha said, “No matter whether perfect beings arise or not, it remains a fact, and a hard necessity of existence, that all creations are transitory.” It is this impermanence that causes each and every being to suffer at one stage or another. Suffering is thus not accidental but springs from a specific cause, whether from this life or a previous life. Only through proper learning and the genuine practice of the Dharma can one be liberated from the vicious cycle of suffering.

Tibetan Medical theory states that everything in the universe is made up of the Five Proto-Elements:

1. Sa  ( Earth )
2. Chu  ( Water )
3. Me ( Fire )
4. rLung  ( Wind )
5. Nam-Mkha  ( Space )

Although all Five Proto-elements are responsible for the formation of each tissue cell, each element has a specific influence:

1. Sa – exerts a greater influence over the formation of muscle cells, bones, the nose and the sense of smell,
2. Chu – is responsible for the formation of blood, body fluids, tongue and the sense of taste,
3. Me – is responsible for body temperature, complexion, the eyes and the sense of sight
4. rLung – is responsible for breathing, skin and the sense of touch and
5. Nam-Mkha – is responsible for body cavities, the ears and the sense of hearing

The Three Principle Energies or Humors

Medicine Buddha Mandala 1. rLung, or Wind,  is one of the three principle energies of the body which manifests the the nature of Air element. It is characterized by rough, light, cold, subtle, hard and mobile. It is responsible for the physical and mental activities, respiration, expulsion of urine, faces, fetus, menstruation, spitting, burping, speech, gives clarity to sense organs, sustains life by means of acting as a medium between mind and body.

2. mKhris-pa (pron- Tripa), is the nature of Fire, and represent Bile in Tibetan Medicine.  It is characterised by oily, sharp, hot, light, fetid, purgative and fluidity. mKhris-pa is responsible for hunger, thirst, digestion and assimilation, promotes bodily heat, gives lustre to body complexion and provides courage and determination.

3. Bae-Kan is the nature of both Water and Earth and represents Phlegm in Tibetan Medicine. It is cold in nature and is characterised by oily, cool, heavy, blunt, firm and sticky. Bae-kan is responsible for firmness of the body, stability of mind, induces sleep, connects bodily joints, generates tolerance and lubricates the body.


A Healthy Body

gSowa Rigpa is the Art and Science of Healing in traditional Tibetan Medicine, Astronomy and Astrology. It involves the proper alignment of the 3 Humors or energies, 7 bodily constituents and 3 excretions, into a state of equilibrium or harmony. If this is accomplished, then the body is said to be in a state of health and free from psycho-physiological disorders. However, when the body is out of harmony or in a state disequilibrium, in any of these energies constitutes, then the body is in a state of disorder or ill-health.

 Traditional Tibetan Medical Treatments

Dietary and Lifestyle Factors – In both in developing and developed countries health problems can be either directly or indirectly traced to poor diet or lifestyle. Examples of this include alcoholism, hypertension, obesity, sedentary lifestyles,  heart disease The first form of treatment in Tibetan Medicine is thus not medicines but changing a patient’s diet and or lifestyle.

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.