Traditional Tibetan Medicine (Sowa Rigpa)
About Tibetan Medicine
Traditional Tibetan Medicine (TTM, known in Tibetan as Sowa Rigpa or Sorig) is one of the oldest healing sciences in existence. It offers a vast medical knowledge that is accessible to everyone, and supports the cultivation of a happy mind along with a healthy body.
According to TTM, health is a state of balance — specifically, the balance of our body, energy, and mind — and disease is a state of imbalance. The wisdom of TTM shows us how to prevent disease through maintaining balance, and how to cure disease by restoring balance.
TTM explains that our body, energy, and mind (as well as the world around us) are made up of five fundamental elements: space, wind, fire, water, and earth. TTM offers a wealth of therapeutic methods — including lifestyle guidelines, diet regimens, herbal medicines, and external therapies — to help us maintain the balance of these five elements within ourselves, and to live in harmony with the five elements in the environment.
Through the healing wisdom of TTM, we can cultivate what are known as the ‘two flowers’ of good health and long life. From these two flowers, the ‘three fruits’ naturally grow, and we enjoy an open, satisfied, and happy mind and heart. This integrated state of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being is the ultimate goal of the healing science of Tibetan Medicine.
The Four Medical Tantras
The essence of Tibetan medical theory and practice is contained within the Four Medical Tantras (Tib. རྒྱུད་བཞི་ “gyüd zhi”): the Root Tantra, the Explanatory Tantra, the Oral Transmission Tantra, and the Final Tantra. The Four Tantras were composed by Yuthok Yönten Gönpo the Elder (729-854 AD) and revised by Yuthok Yönten Gönpo the Younger (1126-1202). Within these volumes are a detailed explanation of the basis of both health and disease; an extremely sophisticated understanding of anatomy (both physical and subtle), embryology, and pathology; a highly effective diagnostic system with emphasis on pulse and urine diagnosis; and a wide variety of treatment modalities including a regimen for diet and lifestyle, herbal medicines, and external therapies such as Ku Nye oil massage, acupuncture, moxibustion heat therapy, hot and cold compresses, and Yukchö stick therapy.
Foundations of TTM
Students who wish to study and train in Tibetan Medicine in depth are encouraged to join the multi-year Foundations of TTM program. Many modules can be attended online! Learn more →