Traditional Tibetan Medicine (TTM) is a natural and holistic medical science, which addresses the individual’s body, mind and spirit in an integrated way. Dating back
to antiquity, TTM has a genesis, history and development of its own, rooted in the Tibetan landscape, the indigenous culture and the spirit of the Tibetan people.
Traditional Tibetan Medicine contains a comprehensive philosophy, cosmology and system of subtle anatomy with associated spiritual practices. The study of TTM contains a wealth of knowledge on anatomy and physiology, embryology, pathology, diagnostics and therapeutics, including a huge
herbal pharmacopoeia and a large variety of external therapies which are little-known in the Western world.
Despite being one of the world’s most ancient healing systems, Traditional Tibetan Medicine continues to be effectively practised in contemporary society. Modern
research is now confirming the extraordinary benefits of this ancient knowledge.
The aims of TTM are two-fold:
Prevention of illness through correct lifestyle and diet are fundamental to TTM. Today, most chronic diseases occur as a result of imbalances - mental attitude, incorrect lifestyle and diet. Diabetes
and cardiovascular disease are well-known examples.
Once there is imbalance disease soon follows. It then becomes necessary to re-balance by working on the underlying causes and effects. This means looking at diet and lifestyle and then making use of
herbal therapies and external therapies.
There are four main methods of treatment in Traditional Tibetan Medicine:
Diet, Life-style, Medicine and External Therapies.
According to Tibetan Medicine, you should be aware of your typology, following a diet which helps to maintain balance.
Fast-foods high in fats, pickled and preserved foods and drinks should be avoided, particularly in early years in order to prevent the onset of disease.
Tibetan Medicine considers a healthy lifestyle to be an awareness of every moment of our lives – waking, sleeping, eating, sitting, walking, working – (not just regular
The environment should be suitable to each person’s 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.
Natural herbs, plants and wild-flowers are employed for their therapuetic effect. A variety of minerals, and a small number of animal-derived substances are also used.
While many of these can be found all over Asia, some particularly powerful herbs and minerals are found only on the Tibetan high plateau. Due to the pristine nature of this environment, the
ingredients of theTibetan Materia Medica are particularly pure.
Tibetan medicines are formulated according to two guiding principles – according to Taste and according to Potency. Typically, they contain many components. A simple remedy might contain 10
substances, and a more complex formula as many as 70.
There are approximately 500 medicinal formulae that are currently in common usage. These formulae or remedies have the function of restoring the balance of the three Humors. Recent scientific studies
are now able to demonstrate the efficacy of these Tibetan formulae.
- External Therapies
Traditional Tibetan Medicine incorporates a wealth of external therapies, which can be used individually, or in combination with other types of treatment.
- Massage - Kunye (Tib, bsKu mNye)
Ku Nye is the traditional Tibetan Medical massage, used both in prevention, and treatment, of disease. Specific acupressure points and meridians are used, as well as the use of specific
therapeutic herbal oils.
- Acupuncture - Thurche (Tib, Thur dPyad)
The knowledge of Tibetan acupuncture was lost for many years; thanks to Dr Nida Chenagtsang, a revival of this healing art has begun. IATTM is proud to present teachings on traditional Tibetan
acupuncture. Tibetan acupuncture differs from the Chinese acupuncture predominantly in the use of different points and meridians.
- Moxibustion - Metsa (Tib, Me bTsa)
Moxibustion is a heating therapy which utilises the herb eontopodium and applied over specific points in order to provide heat. Best used for cold conditions – eg. Digestive
problems, poor circulation, dull pain.
Specific points are used for different conditions. 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.
There are other external therapies that are taught, such as herbal baths, stick therapy, and compresses.