What is Tibetan Medicine?


Summary: In this article you’ll learn about Traditional Tibetan Medicine, also known as Sowa Rigpa.

What is Traditional Tibetan Medicine?

Traditional Tibetan Medicine (TTM), known as Sowa Rigpa, the “Science of Healing” is one of the oldest healing traditions in existence and continues alive today. It is a medical system based on the interdependent relationship between human health and nature.

TTM offers a person-centered holistic approach to health and supports the cultivation of a happy mind and Health is defined as a state of balance, specifically, a balance of the body, energy, and mind. Dis-ease is the state of imbalance. The world around us and our body, energy and mind consist of five elements: space, wind, water, fire, and earth.

Tibetan Medicine uses may methods to prevent, diagnose and treat disease, and imbalances. One of the modality is to assign individual body (humoral) constitutions. Since TTM is deeply connected to nature, the humoral constitutions are portrayed as loon (wind), tripa (bile/fire), and (water and earth or phlegm). The differences of the humoral constitution reflect the body type, complexion, hair, body temperature, articulation, mind aspect, emotions, temperament, sleep, digestion, taste, tongue, pulse and urine quality. Each body typology predisposes a person to various diseases.

For example, those with the beken constitution are prone to difficult and slow digestion, stomach pains after meals and slow blood circulation. The aim here is to prevent and avoid predicted diseases.

Tibetan medicine’s goal is the prevention and avoidance of diseases. TTM looks at all aspects of a person’s like to help formulate a diagnosis and individualized treatment plan to re-balance, and maintain physical, mental, and energetic health. Practitioners focus on educating the patient how to live life in balance in all aspects of their life. The treatment plan is long-term, adjusted over time and includes the community to support the patient. Through the wisdom of TTM we can prevent, balance, restore health with modalities that include lifestyle and diet changes, external therapies and herbal supplementation, and live in harmony with the five elements.

Compared to Western medicine where the patient is treated with a “band-aid” approach, Tibetan medicine looks at the patient as a whole, paying attention to the interconnection that exists within us, between us, and everything that surrounds us.

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