History of the Tibetan Medical Thangkas
Tibetan medicine is a traditional system of medicine which has been practiced for over 2500 years and is still practiced today although Tibetans are now in exile.
The headquarters of the Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute are now based in Dharamsala, North India. It is here that ail the Tibetan doctors now receive all their training, and it is also where the medicines are manufactured. The period of training before one qualifies as a Tibetan doctor is for a minimum of seven years. For the student to understand the medical texts a knowledge of Tibetan linguistics, grammar and poetry is required. The first four years of training are taken up with studying the four main medical tantras, or rGyud-bzhi; they are the root tantra, the exegetical tantra, the oral tradition tantra containing methods and instructions, and finally the subsequent tantra. In the fifth year students take exams both oral and written on these four tantras. For the sixth and seventh years students are sent for practical training under a senior and experienced doctor at one of the branches of the Tibetan Medical and Astrological institute. At present there are now over 30 branches in India and Nepal, and in addition to this there are a number of private clinics. Tibetan medicine still survives in Tibet where the Chinese have destroyed so much of the Tibetan tradition and culture. It has survived because it is of great practical help for them.
Tibetan medicine is one of the five major sciences, and it is called gSoba Rig-pa, the science of healing. It uses different kinds of ingredients such as herbs, trees, rocks, resins, soils, precious metals, saps etc. However, 95% of Tibetan medicine is based on herbs, and precious metals are used for the seven kinds of precious pill known as Rinchesen rilpo. If the physician is able to make the right diagnosis and administer the right medicine, then Tibetan medicine is good for all kinds of illness. However, it has been particularly successful in its treatment of chronic diseases such as rheumatism, arthritis, ulcers, chronic digestive problems, asthma, hepatitis, eczema, liver problems, sinus problems, anxiety and problems connected with the nervous system.
The basic theory of Tibetan medicine is to keep in balance the Nyipa sum - they are rLung [pronounced loong], mKhris-pa and Bad-kan. The long-term causative factors of Nyipa sum are the three poisons of desire, hatred and delusion which show how closely connected Tibetan medicine is with Buddhist philosophy.