Brief introduction to Tibetan medicine

Tibetan medicine is one of the oldest medical practice and healing art in the history of mankind dating back to 2500 years. It is called Sowa Rigpa in Tibetan. The historical Buddha Shakyamuni taught the medical text Vimalagotra (Tib: Dri-med Rigs) simultaneously with the first turning of the wheel of Dharma at Sarnath on Four Noble Truths.
Sowa Rigpa has been practiced not only in Tibet, but also in many countries of the Himalayan regions i.e. Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, northern India and central Asia. The Tibetan medical system is based on four medical tantras called rGyud-bzhi which contain thirty one chapters that explains and describe in detail the human body, including embryology, anatomy and physiology.
According to Tibetan medicine disease are caused by one's ignorance or delusion, imbalance of three humours energies or Nyes-Pas i.e. Wind energy(Loong), Bile energy(mKhris-pa) and Phlegm energy(Bad-Kan). The main cause of sickness and deseases are derived from three poisons i.e. Desire (Dhoe-Chag), Anger(She-Dang) and Ingnorance(Ti-Mug).The diseases are also a product of the causes and conditions and ones bad karmic result of previous lives. It is through the interrelationship between the energy of the mind, humors and physical constructions that the framework of the theory and practice of Tibetan Medicine is established.
Tibetan Astrology: Tibetan Elemental Astrology, 'Byung-rTsis, is based on the five elements, the twelve-year cycle, eight par-kha or trigrams, and nine sme-wa or magic square numbers. Tibetan astrologers use these to calculate horoscopes along with four major themes: one's life span, physical condition, economic and political power, and overall luck in business and work.

The seven important constituents of the body are:
1. Essential nutriment (Dangsma) 5. Bone (Rus)
2. Blood (Khrag) 6. Marrow (rKang)
3. Fat (Tsil) 7. Regenerative fluid (Khuwa)
4. Muscle tissues (Sha)

Diagnosis Procedures:

1. Spiritual Consultation and Advise: Tibetan Medicine is based on Buddhist values. Due to cause and conditions, ignorance, karmic results from previous life one goes through many sicknesses and sufferings. As Tibetan traditional Buddhist ways, get spiritual guidance and consult from high lamas (Rinpoches) by doing "MO" (Tibetan way of divination), do prayers to get rid of evil castings, bad karmas and to enhance the life span. Also by sparing animal life.
2. Interrogation: Considering the patient's history is very important as a Tibetan diagnostic method.
3. Visual Examination: Visual examination consists of examining the patient's physical structure, eyes, tongue and urine, etc.
4. Physical examination: This method of diagnosis is concerned with such things as temperature of the body, inflammations, etc. Most important here is diagnosis by pulse.

Methods of Treatment

1. Diet: The first treatment involves the prescribing of a proper diet as a proper diet as a basis is very essential. For example, if the patient is suffering from a bile disorder he should not take alcohol, oily food and sweet substance.
2. Behaviour Modification: Treatment through behavior modification comprises for instance, a patient with wind energy (rlung) disorder should not do heavy physical activities. He should relax and try not to take any stress. If possible do some light joggings.
3. Herbal Medicine: The Tibetan medicine consists of a huge number of Himalayan medicinal herbs, minerals and to a lesser extent animal substances. The physician (sman pa) starts with less potent concoctions and turns to stronger forms, if necessary. The drugs can be classified as follow such as: decoction, pills, powder, medicinal butter, medicinal wine etc.
4. Physical Therapy: Apart from the prescribing of natural drugs, the physician may also have to depend on other therapeutic techniques. They are again to be classified in gentle and rough techniques. Massage, hot and cold compresses, mineral and medicinal bath are the gentle techniques. Blood letting, cauterization, moxibustion, cupping, golden needle therapy are considered as rough techniques. There is also some minor surgery such as the draining of abscesses.