Ancient Tibetan Medicine

Ancient Tibetan Medicine, also known as ‘Gsowa Rigpa’ or the knowledge of healing, is a predominant Buddhist practice of medicine and healing followed in the region of Tibet since ancient times. Heavily inspired by the teachings of Gautam Buddha and the Indian tradition of Ayurveda it utilises many rare herbs and minerals in combination with a thoroughly planned regime of exercise and lifestyle changes to keep the human body in harmony with its surroundings.

Traditional Tibetan medicine methods include balancing the body and mind using herbal pills and spiritual practice. Closely connected with Buddhism, Tibetan medicine seeks to understand the vital life force and its connection with the cosmos, working to minimize or purify karmic influences through meditation and other spiritual practices.

“A 2014 review of Tibetan medicine (TM) in three cancer case studies found TM to be safe and have positive effects on quality of life and disease regression and remission in patients with cancer and blood disorders.”

Tibetan medicine practitioners believe that there are three types of poisons namely desire, anger, and ignorance which are responsible for every imbalance in a human’s body. To regain that balance and equilibrium the three poisons have to be dealt with separately by targeted treatments. Dividing the patients into three types Long, Chiba, and Peigen, the diagnostician decides whether the problem is due to an imbalance of breath, internal heat, or soil and water respectively. These three imbalances, in turn, are nothing but the physical manifestations of the three poisons that we discussed before. After determining which type of imbalance exists in the body, various medicinal remedies combined with practical and lifestyle changes are employed to regain the balance for a long term. 

While diagnosing any disease, Tibetan medicine attributes special importance to the colour of tongue and the colour and feature of the first urine in the morning. It is believed to be a revelatory fact in determining the kind of ailment which has manifested itself in the patient. Then two types of treatments are utilised to take care of the body. First is different forms of medicines derived from natural herbs and minerals. Second is an external application which includes acupuncture, cupping, bloodletting etc. One of the most famous medicinal herbs used in Tibetan medicine is Caterpillar fungus, a renowned antimicrobial and antibiotic. Rare herbs like Himalayan Viagra, Snow Lotus, and camphor are also used in taking care of a plethora of diseases including AIDS and SARS. 

His holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has famously commented that a combination of Tibetan and Western medicine can prove to be a wholesome and all-encompassing treatment for every bodily disease. Although not identified by Western Medicine as a viable method for treating major illnesses like Multiple Sclerosis, AIDS and Cancer, Tibetan Medicine is an option worth exploring. Please follow the links below to find out more about it. Patients should also note that treatments like Tibetan medicine take a significant amount of time to register their curing effects. So don’t expect major improvements in a day or two. Just like psychological medicines, there has to be a constant level of drug in the body until the ailment can be removed and avoided over an extended period. 


  1. Credit: Beyond Conventional Care Therapies
  2. Integrative Oncology Cancer Care
  3. Ansari E. What Tibetan medicine can offer cancer patients. Tricycle. June 2, 2017. Viewed February 4, 2018.
  4. Bauer-Wu S, Lhundup T et al. Tibetan medicine for cancer: an overview and review of case studies. Integrative Cancer Therapies. 2014 Nov;13(6):502-12.
  5. Men-Tsee-Khang: Tibetan Medicine
  6. Tibetan Herbal Clinic Dharamshala

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