Tibetan medicine involves a holistic approach towards healing. Experts claim that Tibetan medicine is an art and a philosophy that is based on science and that its principles have a logical and systematic framework. This art of healing is influenced by the Buddhist principles of ethics, karma and altruism. Tibetan medicine is based on the understanding of a body and its relation with the environment. Those who practice Tibetan medicine utilise their insight with subtlety, creativity and compassion.
History and basics of Tibetan healing
The Tibetan science of healing known as Sowa Rigpa is a 2500 year old philosophy. It is practised mainly in central Asia, but is slowly gaining acceptance and popularity all over the world. It has influences of Indian, Chinese as well as Greek traditional healing customs and beliefs.
Healing through Tibetan medicine involves balance of the body’s 3 principles of function, 5 cosmic elements and the 3 excretions. When all these fall into a state of equilibrium a complete wellness and overall good health can be achieved. Non equilibrium of any of the above mentioned energies can cause various illnesses and diseases.
The three principles of function that need to be balanced in order to maintain health are as follows
rlung refers to the flow of energy in the body. It functions to promote growth, movement, and facilitate breathing and flow of air in the body. It also refers to the flow of blood and it is responsible for separating nutrients and waste products in stomach. rLung also aids various functions of mind and speech. It promotes thoughts and is cold as well as hot in nature.
mKhris-pa is related to the element of fire and its most important function is to maintain temperature. It is describes as oily, hot, light, sharp, moist and pungent. It enhances digestion and gives lustre to the skin. It also controls the heart and moods of a person.
Bad-kan is a function related to water and earth and is responsible for sustaining bodily fluids. It also helps in digestion and maintains the health of bones and joints and overall fitness. It also gives the sense of taste, and is responsible for functioning of other sensory organs as well.
Five cosmic elements
Like the theory of panchamahabhuta, Tibetan medicine also believes that the five basic elements play a major role in our overall well-being. All the five cosmic elements must be in balanced state to achieve a disease free and healthy body.
These three excretions are also considered important, as they are responsible for getting rid of bodily wastes and toxins. All three are generally observed during diagnosis, as complete wellness depends on them as well.
A Tibetan medicine practitioner diagnoses an ailment via visual observation, touch and interrogation. Visual observation includes checking skin complexion, colour and texture of nails, sputum, faeces etc. of the patient. The practitioner also observes the eyes, tongue and urine of the patient. The process of diagnosis also includes checking pulse of the patient by placing three middle fingers at the patient’s radial arteries. Further interrogation regarding the patient’s lifestyle and behavioural pattern also helps in establishing a firm diagnosis. During diagnosis the practitioner also probes the causative factors and determines the site of illness before deciding the effective treatment.
Treatment and healing
Like most of the alternative therapies,Tibetan medicine, too, has a very general approach towards healing and believes in causing no harm while treating. The medicines are carefully balanced and tested and do not cause any side effects.
These medicines are completely natural and are derived from various plants, herbs, shrubs and trees. Medicines are prepared using specific portions of plants, and the selection is based on a theory associated with each part of a tree- roots help to treat bone disorders, bark can cure ailments related to muscles, and branches are good in the cure of nerve disorders. While leaves are used for curing diseases of the hollow organs such as gall bladder and intestines, flowers are used for treating diseases and disorders of sensory organs like eyes and ears. Fruits are used for treating vital organs like the heart, kidney and liver. These herbal Tibetan medicines are beneficial in completely healing various disorders without causing any harm.
Apart from herbal medications, Tibetan medicine also suggests specific diets according to the requirement. A Tibetan medicine practitioner might also resort to techniques such as natural or medicinal baths, blood letting, external therapy (treatment via exposure to heat or cold), Mey-Tzar (Tibetan moxa ), enema, and Ku Nye (Tibetan therapeutic massage).