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Tibetan Medicine and Other Holistic Health-Care Systems (Foreword by His Holiness The Dalai Lama)

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Item Code: IHD017
Author: Tom Dummer
Publisher: Paljor House
Edition: 2014
ISBN: 9788186230039
Pages: 307
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5” X 5.5”
Weight 400 gm
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Book Description
Back of the Book

Western interest in Eastern forms of medicine such as acupuncture is widespread and growing-yet little attention has so far been given to Tibetan medicine. Tom Dummer describes its concepts and practice in a non-traditional way, thus making it more readily accessible to the western mind.

He writes form first-hand experience of observing notable Tibetan doctors at work in their practices and receiving instructing form them, to give a comprehensive account of their country’s medicine. This he assesses both in terms of the Tibetan tradition of Buddhism of which he is a follower and with the clinical insight of a practising osteopath of many years standing. Beginning with an explanation of the basic elements of Tibetan medicine he describes the relevance of certain Buddhist concepts; the Tibetan analysis of bodily functions; concepts of health and susceptibility to disease and methods of diagnosis and treatment.

In the second part of the book he analyses the similarities between Tibetan and western holistic medicine and shows how they may be practised in conjuction with each other. He considers different, specific areas of medicine, including the use of occidental herbal medicine and homoeopathy within a context of Tibetan medicine; the similarities between contemporary osteopathy and Tibetan massage based on theories of spinal centres and reflexes; and the use of Tibetan medical philosophy and Buddha dharma as a basic for counseling therapy.

Tom Dummer makes a unique contribution towards bridging the gap between Tibetan and other natural therapeutics- and towards communicating this medicine of ancient origin to the Western world.



The Land of Snows the magic conjured up by these three words is all that exemplifies the old Tibet, so ably and graphically recorded by those outstanding story-tellers, Alexandra David-Neel, Heinrich Harrer and Marco Pallis, to name but a few. Moreover, the folklore and pageantry captured the imagination, the monasteries with red-robed monks and lamas, the chortens, the gods, the mountains and demons the ritual and the mysticism so painstakingly documented by Waddell and other eminent Tibetologists and scholars.

Lhasa, the ‘Forbidden City; was the seat of the Dalai Lamas, the spiritual and temporal rulers of Tibet during fourteen incarnations. The Potala the winter residence, towering high above the city is saint and protector of Tibet, the Great Compassionate one of whom the present Dalai Lama is an emanation. His mantra, Om MANI PADME HUM, is inscribed on thousands upon thousands of mountains surfaces, rocks, ‘mani’ stones, prayer wheels and flags and was in the old Tibet constantly on everyone’s lips.

Being brutally ejected in 1959 out of the Middle Ages and into the twentieth century has been a painful and tragic experience for the Tibetan people. But good always comes out of bad, and so much potential good in the form of the rich cultural heritage of Tibet is now available for the first time in the west at least to those who are prepared to make the effort and acquire some of the untold spiritual wisdom and knowledge which is virtually there for the asking.

Within this context as and integral part of the Tibetan way of life and culture, the Emchi system of medicine is now, in the West, awaiting our full consideration and investigation. Indeed, although relatively small by comparison with the vast amount of as yet untranslated literature, sufficient is already available in European languages concerning the fundamentals to permit at least a serious study of the subject, if not the full potential application.

Here our thanks go to the amchis (doctors) whose numbers can be counted on both hands, who brought this knowledge with them they left their homeland during some of the most difficult and heroic journeys in the history of refuge migration. For me whose imagination has always been fired by adventure stories, it was a great moment in my life and, indeed, an honour, to meet personally several years ago Dr Lobsang Dolma, and to learn afterwards from Tibetan friends details of her extraordinary escape across the mountains into India, carrying her two babies on her back together with whatever belongings and ‘tools of trade’ that she could take with her. Also the dramatic escape of his Holiness The Dalai Lama and the intrepid and daring exploits of the making others who risked their lives, as did Dr Lobsang Dolma, during those dark days of 1959. The story of the refugees flight from Tibet is told vividly by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in his book Born in Tibet.

Writing this book has been an act of faith, as indeed has been my role in the original founding of the study Group for Tibetan Medicine and my attempts to organize t and maintain it as a valid point of reference for the accumulation and dissemination of knowledge about Tibetan medicine. I am eternally grateful to the few colleagues and friends, Dr Elisabeth Finckh and Miss Marianne Winder, together with Riki Hyde-Chambers of the Tibet society (UK), who have all three, sustained my efforts during the past few years. Also to Mr Gyatso Tshering of the library of Tibetan works and Archive din Dharamsala and above all to his Holiness the Dalai Lama who so graciously agreed to be our patron and who is a constant inspiration to us all.

When it was first suggested that I should write a book on Tibetan medicine particularly with a view to relating it to other forms of medicine my reaction was totally negative. What could I pretend to know about the subject? Subsequent reflection and talking with friends and colleagues persuaded me to the contrary. Apparently by chance and certainly not by design, some forty years ago I had found myself as a student of herbal medicine. Again within the same context of seemingly no choice (my life has always been like that) I served for some fifteen years as the Hon. General-Secretary of IFPNT (International Federation of Practitioners of Natural Therapeutics) where I was in constant contact with the various disciplines of what is now called ‘complementary medicine’. I realized that my knowledge of this was considerable. When I think about it in the light of what I have learned during my relatively brief contact with Tibetan medicine, I realize that many western practitioners of other medicines are in approaches to healing. Moreover practitioners of other medicines are in a way practising Tibetan medicine through their holistic approaches to healing. Moreover, I’ am sure that most of them have never heard of the subject and know little or nothing about the Buddha Dharma.

Although for most of my professional life I have been both practising and teaching osteopathy as a primary therapy, I realize now that my initial training osteopathy as a primary therapy, I realize now that my initial training herbal medicine and my early interest in the healing properties of plants was in fact a stepping stone towards Tibetan medicine. In 1977 I decided to go to India and learn all I could as quickly as possible. My imagination had been fired.

I have heard it said that it takes several lifetimes to become a practitioner o Tibetan medicine. if this is so it would seem that perhaps I am indeed fortunate in already having had at least two lives in one! It is this aspect of Tibetan Buddhism, i.e. karma and rebirth, plus the implied elements of timelessness and familiarity, which have always fascinated me. For instance, when I first set foot in Dharamsala, the hill station in North West India which is now an important Tibetan refugee settlement and headquarters of His holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in exile, Bingo that was it! it registered so strongly, the old familiar feeling ‘I’ve been here before’. My mind flashed back to my childhood and I remembered vividly as if it were even today-the birthday present when I was but three years old–the picture book with Tibetan lamas and monks and the monastery with the great shrine room perched on a mountain top! Now I was here in real life, perhaps not with the same mountain top, but certainly with the same mountains before my very eyes. A mere association-reflex the cynical behaviourist might say. Maybe, but that does not necessarily explain the strong fascination and affinity that years later, my parents assured me I had for these sights at the age or three. Nor does it fully account for my spontaneous reaction of having been more before and the feeling that I had come home.

Constant prodding from colleagues and friends and particularly Riki Hyde-Chambers convinced me that I must do what do what I in the first place had decided was an almost impossible task i,e. write a book on Tibetan medicine. Hopefully, I have managed to write it in such a way that it will have the widest possible appeal Finally, bearing in mind that it is such an erudite subject it could so easily end up as a dry-as-dust old tome, I have tried hard to avoid this at all costs even to the point of being mildly anecdotal. The fact that I am primarily a clinician and not an academic probably weight in my favour. Indeed it is my earnest hope that I shall be able to fulfil all the requirements usually demanded of a useful and helpful book. Mercifully it is not solely dealing with the technicalities of Tibetan medicine per se and I hope dear readers to fire your imaginations and inspire you in the direction of further and far more serious study. If, at the same time, I have presented you with a minimum of factual data so that you will at least ne reasonably informed, hopefully entertained and certainly not bored then the whole exercise will have been a success and everyone will be happy.




Foreword by his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet xii
Dedication xiv
List of Tables and Figures xv
Vows of a Tibetan Doctor xix
Introduction xxi
Part One Traditional Tibetan Medicine  
1 Tibetan Medical philosophy 3
Historical Origins 3
Basic Texts and commentaries 4
2 Buddhist Tantra, cosmology and symbolism relevant to Tibetan medicine 8
Tantra 8
Prana, the psychic channels and the Cakras 10
The Psychic Channels and body-energies within a Tibetan Medicine Context 10
The Psychic channels –cakras-The trikaya –The five elements –the relevance of the subtle energies to healing –the five jinas –the five Buddha families  
Mount Meru 22
The Medicine Buddha 22
The Triratna (Three jewels) 26
The four kayas and the six realms 27
The Wheel of life 28
The Bardo or intermediate state 29
Rebirth –life-Death  
Mantras 30
The Bodhisattva 31
The six parmitas (or Transcending perfections) 32
The Tibetan Medical philosophy of health 35
The five cosmic energies 37
The basic causes of all Disease 38
The three poisons 39
The Body in its natural condition of health 40
The Three Humours-The seven basic body constituents –excretios –environmental influence-conception and embryology-the six tastes –conscious Expansion-western observations-The Flowers and fruits of health  
Conclusion 49
4 Disease  
Etiology 51
1. Incompatible behaviour (occasional behaviour as a factor; wind; bile; phlegm: The relevance of the three humours) - 2 Diet as a causative factor (diet the humours and the vital channels; Digestive fire; Miscellaneous observations)-3. The influence of age and biotypological factors on the humours- 4. Daily seasonal and geographical influences (a) Daily Time influences: (b)The Seasonal influence, The Tibetan year and calendar; some exceptions to seasonal aspects (c) Geographical factors)  
Pathology 63
Pathological Entrance: the ‘Doors of Disease’ and pathways of Disease- The Fifteen Directions or Movements of Disease  
The Classification of Illness 65
1.The cause -2. The Ailments Affecting Different Types of Patients -3. The Characteristics of the Ilness (The Twelve Types of Reaction Imbalances)  
Heat and Digestion  
Abnormal conditions arising out of the Departure from the Body of its natural Condition of Health, when the Seven Energies Diminish – Abnormal conditions arising out of the Departure form the body of its natural condition of health when the Three Excretory functions are deficient  
The nine fatal conditions 71
5 Diagnosis  
Diagnosis 73
Method of clinical procedures 74
1. Visual Diagnosis (A The tongue; B The three Humours; C The Ear-lobes; D The Eye –lids)- 2. Pulse Diagnosis – 3. Interrogatory Diagnosis  
Clinical Objective 82
Tibetan Medical Urinalysis 83
General Objective  
Methodology and Diagnostic Conclusions 85
Biotypology in Tibetan medicine 86
Morphological and Temperamental characteristics of the Biotypes  
6 Mind and Mental Discorders 87
The natural of the mind 88
Mental Illness 89
Causes Treatment  
7 Ecology and Tibetan Medicine 91
Iatrogenic Disease 91
Buddhism and the Subject of Death –Therapeutic  
Faith –Conclusions  
Early Tibetan Buddhist Medical Texts 94
Predictions Naturally Occurring poisons – Stress – Practical Advice –Prophylactic Tibetan Medicines Conclusion 100
8 Introduction to Treatment 101
Clinical problems 101
Methods of Treatment 101
Four Categories of Disease 102
The principal Therapeutic Methods 102
Warning classification of methods of Treatment-  
Two Levels of Treatment  
9 Behavioural Therapy 106
1 Dietetic Advice 106
(a) Wind Disorders – (b) Bile Disorders – (c) Phlegm Disorders –raw food Diet (Botanical Reasons for cooking food; Ecological reasons for cooking food; conclusions)  
2 Changing Unhealthy and/or Unsuitable Behavioral patterns 112
(a) Continual Daily Behaviour – (b) Seasonal Behaviour – (c) Occasional Behaviour  
10 Treatment 114
1. Medication Therapy 114
(a) Some General considerations- (b) The Tibetan Materia Medica – (c) Medicinal Plants –contemporary Obstacles to the use of Tibetan medicine in the West 122
2 Accessory Therapy  
Conclusions 123
Part Two Relating Tibetan Medicine to Western Holistic Systems of Medicine  
11 Introduction to relating Tibetan and western Holistic medicine 127
Holism Versus Reductionalism 127
Energy Fields 129
A Comparison of western and Tibetan Medical Thought 135
Bridging The Gap Mind over Matter –Anatomy and Physiology –Conclusions  
A Brief Comparison of Tibetan and Chinese Medicine 147
12 Western Herbal Medicine 149
Tradition and Contemporary Aspects 149
The Physiomedical system 150
Holistic and cosmological Aspects 153
Correlations between Western and Tibetan Medicine 154
Materia Medica 156
Conclusions 157
13 Homoeopathy 158
How Homoeopathy can be adapted within the Philosophy of Tibetan Medicine  
Homoeopathic Principles and the Five Element 158
Homoeopathic correspondences to Tridosha and the Three homours 163
The Six Jewels 167
Electro Homoeopathie 169
Ostepathy I 171
Osteopathy: The perfect complement to Tibetan Medicine 171
Historical Aspects 172
Still’s principles (or precepts) 173
The Somatic Dysfunction (Osteopathic Lesion) 174
The Facilitated Segment 177
The Traditional emphasis on the role of the circulatory system 179
Sutherland’s Discovery of the cranial Rhythmic impulse 180
The four Evolutionary stages of osteopathy 182
Osteopathic Diagnosis 183
Osteopathic Technique 184
Development Treatment –Specific Adjusting Technique -  
Functional Technique –cranial Technique -  
Miscellaneous Osteopathic Techniques  
Still’s Spiritual and intuitive insight into Healing 189
Osteopathy II 191
The Great Breath 191
The Clinical Significance of Past lives 192
Structure/ Function and the Significance of Tantra 192
Structure/ function –psychic channels or Pathways -  
The cosmological Interpretations of Sutherland and still  
Osteopathy II 201
Body-mind Relationship: Similar ancient and Modern views 201
Touch Sensitivity Diagnostic Technique 203
Buddhist Medicine 204
The Difference between Treating Healing 204
The role of Trauma 205
Diagnosis of Stress 205
General Note  
17 Psychological counseling with Buddha Dharma and Titan Medical philosophy as a Basis 213
Psychological precepts commonly Experienced in the west 213
Buddhist precepts as a basis for counseling 215
1. Impermanence- 2. Suffering -3 Non Self Karma and rebirth 219
Practical procedures  
1. Advice to the patient -2 Meditation -3. Counselling 221
18 Practising Tibetan Medicine in Conjunction with western scientific medicine 222
Personal Responsibility 223
The Incorporation Of Tibetan medical Principles 224
19 Self Help Through Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy and Medicine 226
Procedures and Practices Directed at Helping the mind 227
Controlling Mind Tonus 231
A self Help procedure to help the mind and balance Generally: Kum Nye 231
A Summary of the Main self help Procedures 232
Self help and simple but effective help for others form meditation on the Medicine Buddha (Men-la) 233
The Fundamental Principles –Procedure –The Sutra of The medicine Buddha  
20 Conclusions and perspective for the future 239
Difficulties facing Tibetan Medicine in the west 240
Essential Differences between Eastern and Western  
Systems of Medicine –Problems from a western viewpoint  
Some modern philosophical Approaches 243
Buddhist Symbolism and Carl jung 243
The role of Mantras in Healing 244
Possession by Spirit Entities as a cause of Disease 244
Conclusions 245
Appendix 1 Technical Data for Health Professionals 247
A Guide to Tibetan Medical Urinalysis (Introduction, Methods, Materials and Results)  
Basic Urinalysis 247
Compliances- Collection of Urine-Containers - 248
Stirring stick- Time of Urine collection –Time for examination  
Procedure of Analysis 251
1. Physical Examination ((a) Colour; (b) Odour; (c) Cloudiness’ (d) Bubbles) – 2 Deposit Analysis ((a) Sediments; (b) Cream)- 3. Examination of Urine after change ((a) Time when change occurs; (b) way change occurs; (c) Post-change Qualities)  
Normal Healthy Urine 257
Pathological Urine 258
Major Differential Diagnoses 268
1. Colour- 2. Transparency and sediment -3.colour and Bubbles –factors to keep in mind during Urinalysis (Humoural Constitutional Predisposition; Seasonal factor)- 4 Tests to determine Diagnostic and Therapeutic procedures ((a) Tests for determining diagnosis)  
Conclusion 270
Appendix 2 General Information 272
1. Tibetan Medical Texts and commentaries 272
2. Training in Tibetan Medicine 275
3. Organization concerned with the promotion of Tibetan Medicine 275
4. Subject Matter Analysis of the rGyud bZhi, the for medical Tantras (Material which has been translated into English) 276
1st Tantra 2nd Tantra -3rd Tantra-4th Tantra  
5. Structured syllabus for the further study of Tibetan Medicine 277
Introduction-stage 1: The Introductory Group syllabus –General plan of the introductory stage –standard Textbooks in the English Language  
6. Names and addresses of Tibetan Doctors 280
7. The Tibetan Medical Institute 282
Notes 284
Bibliography 292
Glossary 299
Index 301
Erratum 308
**Contents and Sample Pages**

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