Winter: Diet and Behavior in Tibetan Medicine


Tibetan doctors emphasize behavior as a cause of illness, and often treat by prescribing changes in diet and lifestyle. They draw no division between diseases of body and mind, believing that both mental and physical symptoms are manifestations of disorders that affect the whole person.

Early Winter

The early winter season presents with conflicting temperatures. Cold weather can block the body pores to keep the heat inside the body and protect from heat loss. The heat not only increases the inner body heat but also the power of digestive fire. According to Tibetan Medicine the food is digested faster and endangers the body and organs constituents to be consumed by the digestive fire. It is recommended to neutralize the seasonal harmful effects by an appropriate diet and behavior to keep the body in healthy balance.

Ideal Nutrition

Recommended diet should consist of sweet, sour and salty tastes such as pear, apple, banana, sweet vegetables, cereals, wheat products, milk products (low fat is ideal), porridge, warm soup, and bone broths. In Tibetan Medicine the food should contain more proteins and animal products. The food mentioned above cools down the internal heat but without increasing the phlegm humor. In case one can not eat enough of this kind of food, then mustard oil massages are advised to help balance the body constituents.

Ideal Behavior

The body should be kept warm and well protected from the cold weather. Besides the external warming methods, one should apply medicinal hot pack to the back, abdomen and joints, as they help circulate the blood and energy flow deflected by the external cold temperature, and they also prevent possible seasonal joint pains.


Later Winter (Cold and Humid Season)

The later winter is much colder and often more humid than the early winter. The external coldness and humidity may penetrates the body easily and phlegm humor may accumulate during the late winter season. However, according to Tibetan medicine phlegm does not manifest because it begins to freeze like water in the winter and is going to melt only in spring.

Ideal Nutrition and Behavior

The ideal diet and behavior are the same as that of early winter.



In the winter season the external cold reduces the external heat and gradually enters into the body. There is a cooling down effect of the heat externally and internally. Finally summer heat is completely cooled down and the macro-body parts and tissues freeze.

Natural healing and manifestation of diseases

This world and body variation of temperatures is a natural method of keeping the balance of energy, body tissue transformation and process of development and aging. Through temperature, seasons give the power of movement to the body and help circulate the energy flow, which keeps the body organs and tissues to be healthy. If the body and humors are well functioning, this process keeps them healthy without accumulation of disease, whilst if the body state is unhealthy, it produces blockages, manifests symptoms, and then expels the disease. It is a natural process of healing called “seasonal healing” process, the seasonal clock and rhythm which is very essential to every being living on this earth.


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