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Traditional Tibetan Medicine (TTM), TCM and Ayurveda - a comparison

Origin and provenance of the TTM

Traditional Tibetan medicine, known as Sowa Rigpa, the "science of healing", is one of the three major natural healing traditions in Asia alongside traditional Chinese medicine and Indian Ayurveda. Its roots are believed to go back around 8,000 years. Yogis living in seclusion in nature discovered the healing properties of certain plants by observing the behavior of animals, which instinctively used healing plants to treat injuries. Further insights into the healing effects of certain foods, thermal water and other natural resources as well as the positive effects of external therapies form a wealth of knowledge that has been preserved and passed on by ancient healers. In the 12th century, Yuthok Yonten Gonpo the Younger completed his clinical studies on Gyud Zhi, the Four Tantras of Medicine. To this day, this form of the Four Tantras forms the basis of Tibetan medicine, which is widespread in Tibet, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Ladakh and Mongolia, as well as parts of Russia.

The intention here is to combine spiritual practice and therapeutic work. Traditional Tibetan medicine is extremely complex in terms of its overall structure and methodology. Emphasis is placed on a holistic approach to maintaining or achieving both mental and physical health. The TTM combines the wisdom of various healing systems: Indian Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, Persian Unani medicine and the ancient knowledge of Mongolian shamanic Bon medicine. It is thus a very complex and extensive method of maintaining health and treating disease.

The cosmology in Tibetan therapy

The five elements (space, fire, earth, water and air) not only make up the outer dimension, the universe in which we live, but also the inner dimension of our body. The three juices, or basic energies, which are referred to as Vata, Pitta and Kapha in Ayurveda: Lung (wind), Tripa (bile) and Beken (mucus) are in turn made up of the five Elements formed. They are located in specific areas of the body and are connected to so-called mental poisons: attachment and desire are connected to Lung, anger and anger with Tripa and ignorance and ignorance with Beken . Furthermore, all five elements have special functions, relate to one of the five senses and have their counterpart in certain organs and limbs. An excess or deficiency of one or several basic energies leads to disturbances in the system, which then shows up in the form of symptoms or diseases. The goal of traditional Tibetan medicine is therefore the harmonization and balance of the five elements and the different forms of energy.

What are the diagnostic methods in the TTM?

In order to identify an existing imbalance within the three forms of energy, a Tibetan doctor or healer will always perform a urine analysis, which has its origins in the shamanic practices of the Bön tradition. Examining the urine is very important because it gives direct information about the inside of the body, in contrast to the pulse diagnosis that is also carried out, which gives more subtle information about the status of the internal organs. According to the TTM, urine is the mirror of the inside of the body and therefore represents a simple and direct way to understand the patient's condition.In addition to questioning the patient, eye diagnostics and attention to the shape and appearance of the lips are also used as diagnostic methods

What are the different treatment methods in the TTM?

The prevention of diseases is at least as important in TTM as their treatment. Various forms of treatment are used for this purpose. In addition to the traditional Tibetan massage Ku Nye and moxabustion, cupping or incense, acupressure from the tradition of TCM or acupuncture with the golden needle, Tibetan healing yoga Lu Jong, meditation, the recitation of mantras and teaching about the right one Lifestyle, knowledge about type-appropriate nutrition plays a central role. Tibetan medicine is a constitutional doctrine based on the three basic energies mentioned above. Every person carries an individual mixture of these three active principles, so that seven different constitutional types can form. According to the TTM, there are up to 84,000 different disorders that can occur, which are broken down into 404 major disorders. All diseases are divided into cold or hot diseases, or a combination of both, based on their effects. All substances used for a treatment (herbs, minerals, etc.) and all therapeutic measures can also be divided into these categories. An important basis and prerequisite for a healthy body and mind is an optimally functioning digestive fire (medrö), without which digestive disorders can occur and the inner fire (tummo) that leads to happiness cannot be kindled.

Traditional Tibetan medicine is therefore a naturopathic treatment method that has collected and completed knowledge from various traditions and practices and whose intention is to create an inner balance in the human being.

Contact our author, professional for everything to do with relaxation ♥

Karin Savignano

Imbröderstr. 14, 71634 Ludwigsburg

Tel.: 07141 / 12 90 55 9


Thank you very much, dear Karin, for this exciting insight!


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