The Wisdom of Tibetan Medicine

By Lowe, Justin | Earth Island Journal, Spring 1997 | Go to article overview

The Wisdom of Tibetan Medicine


Lowe, Justin, Earth Island Journal


Kathmandu -- Our Royal Nepal Airlines helicopter swept low over the bright green rice fields of the Himalayan foothills and entered the Kali Gandaki River gorge -- the deepest in the world where it bisects the Annapurna and Dhauligiri mountain ranges -- before emerging above the arid heights of the Tibetan Plateau. Within 30 minutes, we had passed from the subtropical climate of Pokhara, northwest of Kathmandu, into the rainshadow of the Himalayas.

The airport town of Jomsom looked like the setting of a Tibetan Western. Ponies wearing colorful saddles stood in front of squat stone homes, and frequent gusts of wind blew dust down the single cobbled street. After acclimatizing to Jomsom's altitude (11,000 feet) for two days, I joined Prem Gurung, a Nepali agriculturalist, for the half-day trek up the Muktinath Valley to Jharkot village.

When I visited the area three years ago, Prem had not yet begun his year-old research to record the ways in which doctors of Tibetan Medicine in Nepal's northern Mustang region collect and use medicinal plants. Now I would accompany Prem and a local doctor on one of their collection and identification trips. The goal was to evaluate opportunities for the Tibetan Plateau Project (TPP) to support similar medicinal plant research and conservation efforts.

Many of the people north of the Nepali Himalaya are known as bhotia, indicating their Tibetan origins. The bhotia brought their customs and knowledge to the area, including the system of Tibetan medicine -- a 1,200-year-old practice employing physical diagnosis, natural medicines and spiritual guidance to treat and heal a variety of illnesses and diseases. Tibetan doctors, called amchis, study for up to 12 years as apprentices to practicing physicians or in monasteries. Often, they are the only source of treatment for Mustang villagers.

Tibetan medicines rely on some 1,000 plants, as well as various animal and mineral ingredients. Of the medicinal plants, 650 occur in Nepal and 365 are native to Mustang. Soma Namgyal, a monk and amchi at the Muktinath Traditional Medical Center in Jharkot, has collected and prepared many of these plants for medicinal uses and stored them at the center on the grounds of the village temple.

Since my last visit, amchi Namgyal had taken on 17 apprentices -- including two girls -- ranging in age from 11-24. In addition to daily study, the students assist Namgyal by collecting important plants from the Muktinath Valley.

Tsampa Namgyal, an amchi and farmer from the neighboring village of Puthok, took Prem and me on a similar plant collection trip to gather more information for Prem's UNESCO-sponsored research on the environmental threats to Mustang's medicinal plants. Anecdotal information provided by several amchis suggest that some species may be declining due to overgrazing, microclimate changes and a shift in land-use patterns. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Wisdom of Tibetan Medicine
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.