Tibetan Medicine

Along with Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, one of the oldest medical systems is Tibetan Medicine. The system is based on Buddhist philosophy and psychology. The mind and the five elements form into three characteristics: mind, body and, energy.

These aspects in turn, are reflected in the form of three functions (humors) in the human body (Tibetan Medicine Education Center). These three functions are:

  • Wind; rLung (pronounced Loong) – circulation and nervous system
  • Bile; mKhris-pa (pronounced Tree-pa) – aggression, metabolism, liver function
  • Phlegm; Bad-kan (pronounced Pay-gen) – mental stability, joint health

Traditional Tibetan Medicine is derived from four texts (tantras) that are influenced by the Chinese and Indian medical systems. Presently, these tantras are still used as references. The underlying basis to the system is to keep the three humors in balance. These are the (Wikipedia):

  • Root Tantra – discusses the humors in the body and their imbalances and their link to illness
  • Exegetical Tantra – discusses theories on anatomy, physiology, psychopathology, embryology and treatment
  • Instructional Tantra – discusses in detail specific treatments for illness and humoral imbalance
  • Subsequent Tantra – discusses diagnosis and therapies with the use of moxibustion, massage and minor surgeries

Tibetan Medicine diagnostics are based on the senses. This is done through pulse reading, visual diagnosis, urine analysis, questioning before and after pulse reading, and tongue diagnosis. Traditional Tibetan medical practitioners see the tongue as the “heart flower.” It mirrors symptoms of imbalance of the three humors-wind, bile and phlegm. A yellowish tongue with thick covering is indicative of a Bile disorder. A red, coarse tongue would be a disorder of the Wind. A phlegm disorder would show a white, smooth coating of the tongue (Arura Tibetan Medicine).

Like other ancient medical systems, long-term health and prevention is the goal. As long as the bodily functions are in balance through proper diet, exercise and even meditation, one can achieve this goal.

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