What is Tibetan Medicine?

Tibetan medicine, properly called Sowa Rigpa, is the unique, indigenous form of natural medicine native to the Tibetan culture. It has developed over many centuries on the Tibetan plateau, is recorded in texts in the Tibetan language and is taught in schools devoted to its study and is practiced in clinics throughout upper Asia.

The Tibetan medical system, based in Buddhist understanding, approaches the individual with a unique and detailed understanding of the integrity and wholeness of body and mind. Patients are diagnosed not only by interview but also by the distinct Tibetan methods of pulse diagnosis and urinalysis. They are treated with herbal compounds which are prepared in distinctly Tibetan ways, and which may be quite complex. A Tibetan physician must be qualified not only to diagnose and treat patients but also to prepare remedies, even if he uses remedies prepared for him by a Tibetan compounder. Patients are also treated with diet and lifestyle modification. Tibetan physicians in the east also use a number of physical therapies, chiefly cauterization and bleeding. Over the centuries Tibetans have written thousands of volumes of literature on the subject of Tibetan Medicine. Today it is practiced again in throughout Tibet (though it was banished by the Chinese government during the cultural revolution), in Mongolia and Siberia, throughout the Himalayas and wherever Tibetan communities are found. There are an increasing number of clinics in North America and Europe.

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