Tibetan medicine is a centuries-old traditional medical system that employs a complex approach to diagnosis, incorporating techniques such as pulse analysis and urinalysis, and utilizes behavior and dietary modification, medicines composed of natural materials (e.g., herbs and minerals) and physical therapies (e.g. Tibetan acupuncture, moxabustion, etc.) to treat illness.
Tibetan medicine is a science, art and philosophy that provide a holistic approach to health care. It is a science because its principles are enumerated in a systematic and logical framework based on an understanding of the body and its relationship to the environment. It is an art because it uses diagnostic techniques based on the creativity, insight, subtlety and compassion of the medical practitioner. And it is a philosophy because it embraces the key Buddhist principles of altruism, karma and ethics.
The Tibetan medical system is based upon a synthesis of the Indian (Ayurveda), Persian (Unani), Greek, indigenous Tibetan, and Chinese medical systems, and it continues to be practiced in Tibet, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Ladakh, Siberia, China and Mongolia, as well as more recently in parts of Europe and North America. It embraces the traditional Buddhist belief that all illness ultimately results from the “three poisons” of the mind: ignorance, attachment and aversion
Tibetan medical theory states that everything in the universe is made up of the five proto-elements sa (Earth), chu (Water), me (Fire), rLung (Wind), and Nam-mkha (Space). Although all five proto-elements are responsible for the formation of each tissue cell, each element has a specific influence: sa (Earth) 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, skin and the sense of touch; and nam mkha (Space) is responsible for body cavities, the ears and the sense of hearing.
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