from all over the country, and even abroad, are turning to Tibetan
medicines, reports Vibhor Mohan from Dharamsala
Tibetan system of medicine has, over a period of time, become very
popular due to its ability to deliver
quick results. Patients from
across the region wait for their turn in long, serpentine queues
at the half-a-dozen Tibetan clinics in Dharamsala. After
diagnosis, they continue their treatment by seeking consultation
by post or through e-mail. Tibetan practitioners rely on
traditional methods of diagnosis to pin-point the cause of the
ailmentópulse reading and the examination of the urine sample and
the skin. "For us, the pulse is not just a measure of the heart
beat, it leads us to the ailing part of the body," says Dr Tsewang
Tamdin, Deputy Director of the Men-Tsee-Khang or the Tibetan
Medical and Astrological Institute (TMAI), Dharamsala.. "Our
medicines score over allopathic drugs because they do not have
side-effects and are not slow acting," he adds.
Therefore, feels Tamdin, it would be wrong to term the Tibetan
system as an alternate system of medicine because except for
surgery or accident cases, there is a cure for every disease. A
seven-year course in Tibetan medicine and astrology is run by the
institute. The TMAI has nearly 60 seats in the two batches of
medicine it offers and the teaching is purely in Tibetan. Students
studying traditional medicine get a five-year Kachupa
degree or Bachelor of Tibetan medicine and surgery, while students
studying astrological science attain a five-year Tsipa Kachupa
degree or Bachelor of Traditional Tibetan astronomy and astrology.
The TMAI runs two clinics, one each in Dharamsala and McLeodganj.
Pulse reading is the key to diagnosis
Among the private practitioners in McLeodganj,
the Dr. Lobsang Dolma Khangkar Memorial Clinic and Dr Yeshi
Dhondenís Tibetan Herbal Clinic draw the maximum patients.
Continuing the legacy of Dr Dolma, whose name had once become
synonymous with Tibetan treatment, is her daughter, Dr Passang
Gyalmo Khangkar. She says most of her patients turn to Tibetan
medicines after they fail to get the desired results with
"Most Tibetan medicines are made from the same herbs as in
ayurveda, the difference lies in the proportion of their use in
the formulation. I donít have anything against the modern
sophisticated equipment and seek an X-ray report if there are
problems establishing the cause," she says.
In fact, she adds, many of her patients bring reports of their
medical tests along with their case history. "From common ailments
to lung and liver cancer, the Tibetan system has treatment for all
diseases. In fact, the number of Indian and foreign patients
outnumber Tibetans at my clinic," she says. Dr Dhondun is known
for helping cure chronic diseases. A large number of HIV patients
come to him for treatment. "Most of these are drivers from Punjab
or as far as Nagaland. Several Indians working as drivers in Dubai
are also getting treatment for HIV infections after allopathic
drugs proved futile," he says. Dhondun needs a translator but he
makes it a point to know the patientís lifestyle to detect any
behavioral disorders as a part of the diagnosis.
"The reason why the Tibetan system has lived on is the fact that
it had a cure for even the most recent diseases like dengue,
plague and SARS. Allopathic research for some ailments is still in
its nascent stage," he says.
Between six to 70 herbs are used in a medicinal formulation and
most practitioners have a choice of up to 300 medicines to
prescribe from. "The ability of Tibetan medicines to cure all
kinds of cancer is unmatched. We even get patients with oral
cancer from Gujarat," says Dr Dhondun, who was formerly the Dalai
Lamaís private physician.
A cancer patients, on the condition of anonymity, says that
doctors at the local government hospital had virtually given up on
her. "They asked me to go home and take rest, which meant I didnít
have much time. But thanks to the Tibetan treatment, I have lived
a healthy life for five years since then," she says.
Gurdial Singh, a patient of blood cancer from Ferozepore turned to
Tibetan medicines after an extended allopathic treatment proved
futile. "I hope the herbal medicines work," he says. A day before
seeing a Tibetan medical practitioner, a patient needs to have a
restricted diet, avoid meat and coffee. He should also sleep on
time so that no unwanted indicators are shown in his urine and on
the surface of his skin. Although both body and mind are seen as a
single unit in the Tibetan system, says Tamdin, the treatment is
very specific. "In allopathy, you have only high-grade or
low-grade fever. There could be 10 different types of fever as per
the Tibetan diagnosis, all affecting different parts of the body.
The treatment varies in each case," he says. though the Chinese
and ayurvedic systems are based on the same lines, the Tibetan
system stands out because it also deals with psychological aspects
as well. Along with curing the disease, a Tibetan practitioner
would also go into the root cause of the problem," chips in TMAI
director Dr Dawa Choedon. "Many Indians come to us with depression
due to marital disputes or professional problems, we also provide
them counselling," says Tamdin.
As far back as the 4th century, people in Tibet used to apply
residual barley from Tibetan beer on swollen parts and knew the
benefits of applying hot water in case of indigestion and using
melted butter for bleeding.
A qualified Tibetan practitioner is also trained to use astrology
in case of doubt. The practice of Tibetan astrology is believed to
have begun after the spread of Shri Kalachakra Tantra, which was
taught by Lord Buddha at Shri Dhanyakataka in Southern India in
881 BC. The Tibetan astrologers deal with only the external
kalachakra tantra, which leads with creation of the universe, its
cosmology, the positions of the planets, starts, sun and moon; the
five elements and chronological studies.