Tibetan medicine – Elements, Energies, and Diagnosis

is a science, , and that provides a holistic approach to care. It is a science because its principles are enumerated in a systematic and logical framework based on an understanding of the and its relationship to the environment.

It is an art because it uses diagnostic based on the creativity, insight, subtlety, and of the medical practitioner. And it is a philosophy because it embraces the key principles of altruism, , and ethics.

states that everything in the is in a constant state of flux – that all phenomenon is characterized by , and that the only permanent feature is impermanence itself.

As said,

“No matter whether perfect beings arise or not, it remains a fact, and a hard necessity of existence, that all creations are transitory.”

It is this impermanence that causes each and every being to suffer at one stage or another. is thus not accidental but springs from a specific cause, whether from this life or a previous life. Only through proper learning and the genuine practice, of can liberate from the vicious cycle of suffering.

Five Elements in Tibetan Medicine

medical theory states that everything in the universe is made up of the five proto- sa (), chu (), me (), (Wind), and Nam-mkha ().

Although all five proto-elements are responsible for the of each tissue cell, each element has a specific influence: sa (Earth) a exerts a greater influence over the formation of muscle cells, bones, the nose and the sense of smell; chu (Water) is responsible for the formation of blood, body fluids, tongue and the sense of taste; me (Fire) is responsible for body temperature, complexion, the eyes and the sense of sight; rLung (Wind) is responsible for breathing, and the sense of touch; and nam mkha (Space) is responsible for body cavities, the ears and the sense of .

A healthy body

gSowa (the art and science of or , , and astrology) involves the proper of these divisions that is, the 3 humors, 7 bodily constituents, and 3 excretions — into a state of equilibrium. If this is accomplished, then the body is said to be in a state of health or free from psycho- disorders; whereas a non-equilibrium in any of these energies constitutes a state of disorder or ill-health.

Diagnosis in Tibetan Medicine

The diagnostic techniques include visual observation, touch, and interrogation.

Visual Observation

This involves checking a patient’s skin complexion, the color, and texture of his/her blood, nails, sputum, feces, and other general conditions. Special attention is paid to the condition of the patient’s tongue and urine.


Pulse reading the most important touching method employed in Tibetan . Only after ensuring an important set of preconditions, the physician proceeds with a . This involves placing the three middle at a patient’s radial arteries.


Interrogation forms the most important clinical aspect of the diagnosis. There are three main elements to a medical interrogation:

  • determining the causative factors
  • determining the site of the illness
  • studying the signs and symptoms: this involves the doctor asking the patient about the sort of food and drink s/he has been consuming, and what kind of physical and mental behavior

Tibetan Medicines

Tibetan medicines take various forms, from decoctions, powders, general pills, precious pills, and syrups, and are prescribed in small doses a fact that reflects the emphasis Tibetan medicine places on gentle treatment.

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About sadiksha

Namaste! I am a Nepali Art Dealer specialized in Mandala and Thangka paintings. I love to write articles about the monastic culture of the Himalayas.

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