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Tibetan Medicine, The Oldest in the World for Wellbeing

Tibetan healing, the oldest in the world, uses Buddhist wisdom and relaxation techniques to cure the mind, body and spirit TIBETAN Medicine is the oldest integrative medical system in the world having been used successfully for more than 1000 years for the promotion of wellbeing. The system was started in the 8th Century by King Tritson Detsen when he ordered the first international conference on medicine.


This gathering of Greek, Indian, Nepalese, Persian and Chinese medical minds, which lasted for 50 years, resulted in four medical books - magnus opus - called the Gyushi.


Even the Chinese, who invaded Tibet in the Fifties, have tried to preserve parts of the medical system, while destroying monasteries and temples.


This practice of Tibetan Medicine was continued by Ralpachen his brother who became the next dharma King of Tibet - a country the size of Europe for the wellbeing of his people.


The Book of Tibetan Medicine Ralph Quinlan Forde
The Book of Tibetan Medicine Ralph Quinlan Forde

Tibetan Medicine Pulse Diagnosis for Wellbeing

Like the traditional Indian and Chinese medical systems, Tibetan Medicine views health as a question of keeping in balance the psycho-­physiological processes to achieve wellbeing.


Circumstances such as diet, lifestyle, seasonal and mental conditions can disturb this natural equilibrium which gives rise to different kinds of disorders and diseases.


A Tibetan doctor employs his open senses to examine the individual’s balance of health including pulse diagnosis which is unique to Tibetan Medicine. The doctor, amchi, not only takes the pulse but also feels the pulse and can see into the different organs with his or her mind.



Unique to this medical system are the highly evolved forms of exact methods of diagnosis, both from pulse reading and urine specimens. Tibetan doctors read six organs from the right pulse and six organs from the left. Just like Dr Yeshi Dhondon, they can detect cancer in an organ and in what way it is travelling, just from the pulse. When Richard Selzer MD from Yale saw a demonstration of Dr Dhonden’s ability he said, “I know that I, one who has taken thousands of pulses, have never felt a single one.”



The Book of Tibetan Medicine Ralph Quinlan Forde
Tibetan Medicine Wellbeing Pulse Diagnosis


Tibetan Medicine Wellbeing - Treatment

Treatment involves therapeutics such as dietary and behavioural advice, relaxation yoga therapy, acupuncture, moxibustion and a unique materia medica which offers herbal cures and medications derived from natural sources such as plants, minerals and organic products.


As this system is imbued with the wisdom of Buddhism, it is perhaps the greatest medical healing system in the world, due to its capacity to address not just the body but also the mind and spirit.

According to The Buddha, all sickness begins from a false assumption that an independent autonomous self exists and by not having an understanding of emptiness — devoid of self — or shunyata. This belief in a self image is called marigpa. This wrong view ultimately produces 84,000 afflictive emotions which are the cause of the 404 diseases known to man. These diseases, according to this system, arise from the three mind poisons: desire (wishes, passions, and attachments); anger (irritation, rage and hatred); and stupidity (closed-mindedness or apathy).


However The Buddha said the real true state of mind is luminous.


The Book of Tibetan Medicine Ralph Quinlan Forde
Tibetan Medicine Modern Science


Three Mind Poisons

These three mind poisons are regulated by three energies in the body called Lung (wind), Tripa (bile) and Bekan (phlegm). Tibetan medicine is based on maintaining these energies in harmony with one another to attain wellbeing . Everybody has one of these constitutions more predominant than the other and sometimes a mixture of two of them.

The Lung type person is very mentally active. All psychosomatic diseases are Lung and these people generally have cold constitutions. Physically they are often of slim build, problems with sleep affects them and they can be very talkative. When they are out of balance their digestion is first hit, often with a feeling of no appetite which causes sleeping problems. They are cured by anything that earths them or makes them heavier and is warming.




Tripa types are by nature hot-headed, often hungry and thirsty with a healthy appetite. They sweat easily and have strong body odours. Their weak points are liver, gall bladder and small intestine. They are quick on the uptake and very convincing with anger and jealousy surfacing from time to time.

Bekan has a very strong build with a cool body and thick skin. They can endure hunger, thirst and love their sleep. They tend towards weight increase. They think that sleep is the answer to all their ills, when in fact they need to exercise.


Their digestion is sluggish which creates their susceptibility to mucus diseases. They tend to be shy are very dependable and, according to the medical texts, the wealthiest.


Ralph Quinlan Forde
Tibetan Medicine Wellbeing Moxibustion

Tibetan Medicine - Urine Diagnosis

Using the patient’s morning urine the doctor can detect, through the colour, the bubbles it makes when shaken and suspended matter contained in the urine, an imbalance in the body’s organs and what constitution the patient has.




The Medicine Buddha - Supreme Healer

The Book of Tibetan Medicine Ralph Quinlan Forde
The Buddha


One of the most important parts of the healing system is chanting The Medicine Buddha mantra, in the preparation of medicines and the treatment of patients, “Tayatha Om Bekentze Bekentze Maha Bekentze Radza Samudgate Soha” while visualising the Medicine Buddha. It is believed that the sound that is created can effect healing from all classes of diseases.


As an integrated system of health that is one millennium old, Tibetan medicine can offer conventional medicine a different perspective on health. However, like other scientific systems, it must be understood on its own terms and we may need to wait for Western science to evolve in order to understand the positive results that Tibetan doctors — of whom only 150 are left in the world — achieve, especially in areas such as psychiatry, infertility, arthritis and, most of all, the medicine of compassion - bodhicitta.


The Medicine Buddha Mantra

Click on the video to hear the chant and how to pronounce the mantra.




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