Therapeutic Approach In Tibetan Medicine

Mountains against the sky

In the framework of Tibetan medicine the constitutional disorders and psycho-pathological disorders are treated with a holistic view by specific methods of treatment: diet, behavior or lifestyle, medicinal treatments and external therapies.

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Diet can be adjusted for different types of imbalances according to whether the affliction is hot or cold in nature or pathology according to the three humors. The general guidelines are: a nutritionally balanced and natural diet low in fats, meat and alcohol in moderation, with no extremes of taste such as highly sweetened or highly salted meals.


Behauvior or lifestyle The environment should be suitable to each person’s constitutional typology, in particular, living in harmonious balance with nature. It is most essential to breathe fresh air, to have good light and to avoid extremes of temperature. It is important for the individual to allow time for activities such as meditation, breathing exercises and gentle yoga in order to reduce physical and mental stress – which form the underlying cause for disease.

Medicinal Treatments

Medicinal treatments In the Tibetan pharmacopea, natural herbs, plants and wild-flowers are employed for their therapeutic effect. A variety of mineral substances and a small number of animal-derived substances are also used. Tibetan medicines are formulated according to two guiding principles: according to taste and according to potency.

Doctors examine the different tastes of the substances and make a combination of medicines – this is known as medicinal compounding according to taste. Each substance of the Materia Medica has a natural potency which is independent of the taste, and serves to guide the compounding of medicines according to potency.

Remedies may be found in the form of pills, powders, decoctions, concentrates, creams or lotions, some simple ones might contain 10 substances, whereas a more complex formula might contain as many as 70 ingredients or more. There are approximately 500 medicinal formulae that are currently in common usage. These formulae or remedies have the function of restoring and balancing the three humors.

External Therapies

Tibetan Medicine incorporates a wealth of external therapies, each of which can be used individually, or can be used in combination with other types of treatment to restore balance in each of the three humors.

Massage – Kunye (Tib, bsKu mNye)

Ku Nye is the traditional Tibetan medical massage, which can be used both in prevention of disease as well as treating disease. Specific acupressure points and meridians are used, as well as specific therapeutic herbal oils.

Moxibustion – Metsa (Tib, Me bTsa)

Moxibustion is a heating therapy that utilizes the herb ‘Leontopodium haplophylloides’ which is dried, crushed and formed into a cone that is burned and applied over specific points in order to provide heat for different conditions. This is one of the most important external therapies used for cold conditions, for digestive problems, poor circulation and dull pain. There are 20 different types of moxibustion, each using different materials, making the art of Tibetan medical moxibustion quite unique in its diversity.

Cupping – Mebum (Tib, Me Bum)

Tibetan medicine traditionally employs copper cups applied to painful areas in order to relieve the pain and energetic blockage.

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