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Tibetan Medicine: Balancing Energies to Maintain Health

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Based on the teachings of Buddha, Tibetan medicine focuses on the beliefs that all feelings and perceptions of the universe begin in the mind and optimal health only occurs when all energies of the human body are in balance among themselves and with their environment. Tibetanmedicine-edu.org explains how medicine practices in the Eastern world look at the mind as the center of all things real and unreal in the universe.

“The mind is considered to be the base because all existences and moments depend on its movements; it is the creator of every external and internal phenomena,” the Tibetan Medicine Education center (TME) said. Although the mind serves as the foundation of life and health, ignorance can weaken the mind. When the mind is unaware of the larger world, it sees illusions as reality, causing the mind to suffer and seek hope in fantasies, said TME.

In Tibetan medicine, the elements of sa (earth), chu (water), me (fire), rLung (wind) and Nam-mkha (space) are believed to form the entire universe. Each element has a specific job in the world and the human body to help create harmony.

According to tibetan-medicine.org, within the human body, sa is in charge of forming muscle cells, bones, the nose and the ability to smell. Chu controls the creation of blood, body fluids, the tongue and the capability to taste. Me regulates body temperature, one’s complexion, the eyes and sight. Being able to breathe, the formation of skin and the feeling of touch are jobs of rLung. Nam-mkha produces body cavities, the ears and the ability to hear. When the five elements work together and fully complete jobs, the human body, mind and spirit are more healthy.

According to TME, the mind and five elements work together as three body energies or humors. The three humors of Wind (rLung), Bile (mKhrispa) and Phlegm (Badken) continually circulate throughout the entire body to maintain strong health and mentality. TME said that when Wind, Bile and Phlegm are harmonious the body benefits with good health, but when they are unbalanced, illnesses arise.

Each humor holds a different role in the human body. According to TME, the Wind humor operates in all areas of the body, but especially in the heart, small intestine, lungs, nervous system and colon. The energy’s roles include controlling respiration, circulating blood and maintaining overall health. Wind relates to the element of air, and therefore, its characteristics include roughness, coldness, mobility, lightness and subtlety. The Bile humor represents the element of fire and is in charge of circulating blood, controlling sweating and running metabolism. Oiliness, sharpness, lightness, hotness, moistness, powerful odor and purgative are some of Bile’s characteristics, said TME. The humor of Phlegm mixes the elements of both water and earth. Unlike Bile, Phlegm’s traits include coolness, heaviness, bluntness, stableness, smoothness and stickiness, according to tibetanmedicine-edu.org. Some of Phlegm’s roles include creating a solid body and mind, causing the body to sleep, regulating body heat, moistening the human body and organs, making sure the body is patient, attaching joints, and managing the body’s glands.

Making diagnoses and choosing treatments are often based on the state of the human body’s humors. For example, signs of a Wind humor disorder may include insomnia, heavy breathing, aches and pains in joints, the neck and shoulders, present anxiety and nervousness, and abnormal sounds within the ear. For a full list of symptoms and treatments for humor disorders, look at pages 23-25 at http://www.tibetanmedicine-edu.org/images/stories/pdf/tibetan_medicine_w.pdf.

Tibetan-medicine.org said that observations and touching are two primary forms of diagnosing ailments. With visual observation, doctors look at a patient’s eyes, tongue and urine. Doctors look at the color, texture, consistency and odor when examining the eyes, tongue and urine to determine the problem with one’s health. Feeling one’s pulse helps doctors determine disease through touch.

“This involves placing the index finger, middle finger and ring finger of a doctor at patient’s radial arteries,” said tibetan-medicine.org. All three fingers line up long-ways on the patient’s pulse, and each finger on the right and left hand identifies specific illnesses.

Doctors use many techniques in Tibetan medicine to determine diseases. Other forms of treatment include, changing one’s diet and lifestyle, Buddhist spiritual healing, plant and mineral remedies, Tibetan yoga and meditation.


Tibetan Medical and Astro. Institute of H. H. Dalai Lama. Web. 21 Aug. 2011. http://www.tibetan-medicine.org/tibetan_medicine.php

What Tibetan Medicine is. TME- Tibetan Medicine Education center. Web. 21 Aug. 2011.

Tibetan Medicine. TME- Tibetan Medicine Education center. Web. 21 Aug. 2011. http://www.tibetanmedicine-edu.org/images/stories/pdf/tibetan_medicine_w.pdf

Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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