The author receiving the ceremonial scarf khata from H.H. the Dalai Lama. Tibetan medicine is about 2500 years old. And some of its elements are even older, about 5000 years or more. The author had a cancer treatment with serious and chronic side effects, and turned to alternative medicine for help. A Tibetan friend had a dream of getting a Tibetan doctor to Norway, and this is how it all started, in 1986, with Dr. Lobsang Wangyal, personal physician of H.H. the Dalai Lama who visited Norway, treating patients with diverse chronic illness, many of whom got remarkable results. The book describes the philosophy of Tibetan medicine in general, and Diagnosis and Treatment, Diet, Rheumatism, Arthritis, Heart Diseases, Asthma, Skin Diseases, Cancer, Head-aches, AIDS, Psychiatry and more on the basis of the interaction of the author with Tibetan doctors.
TOVE L. LARSEN born in Norway, was educated in literature and economy in England. She is a freelance journalist and author of crossword puzzles.
Nearly 33 years ago I was operated on for cancer in the ovaries. After the operation I felt fit as a fiddle, but the doctors said I needed a second hysterectomy in six weeks' time, to remove a bit more, and fill the abdomen with radioactive liquid gold. That was the end of the fitness. The result was paralysis in the digestive system, and insistent diarrhoea. I was told to live on Nestle's five-months baby food, for the rest of my life. The doctors gave me five years to live.
On leaving the hospital, I never touched it, too stubborn, and too determined to try anything else. To add to the misery, I also received chemotherapy. Fortunately, the doctor was a bit confused about the time allotted. He had prescribed six months chemo, but had obviously forgotten that, when I told him he had prescribed only three months.
Just as I got home, my husband, at that time a personnel manager, hired a new doctor for his firm. This doctor proved to be a pioneer at the time, practicing reflexology for diagnosis, then homeopathy and acupuncture. His wife ran courses on vegetarian diet. Over the next few years I tried about everything there was in alternative medicine, and got some benefit here and there.
Thubten's Dream: Then one day, our Tibetan friend Thubten exclaimed - "You, who have experienced so many alternative therapies: you should try Tibetan medicine. It has for a long time been my dream to get a Tibetan doctor to visit Norway."
Even before explaining what Tibetan medicine was all about, I felt this was important - "Let's do it, Thubten!" So Thubten wrote to the Dalai Lama's brother, whom he knew, and who was then the director of the Tibetan Medical Institute in exile, in Dharamsala in the north India, where the Dalai Lama lives. That was the beginning. The Dalai Lama's personal physician, Dr. Lobsang Wangyal", came with an interpreter, as he spoke Tibetan only.
They both charmed us all, with their knowledge and deep compassion. With their radiant smiles and their humour. At first the consultations were carried out in Thubten's home. His wife Lobsang, an assistant nurse, got leave from her job to conduct it all - with two doctors living in the flat, patients flocking to see the doctor, Lobsang interpreting into Norwegian. However, there was one who did not appreciate this at all - her four year old Norbo! Usually my husband and I were drowned in hugs from this happy boy, but in those two weeks he ignored us completely.
Poor kid -a rush of foreign people and intensely busy parents, was just a bit too much. But slowely he adjusted and by the time two weeks had passed, he was again the same happy, hugging little lad. For the next ten years, Dr. Wangyal, `Amchi-la' as we called him (amchi means doctor in Tibetan), kept visiting Norway each September, along with a young Tibetan doctor as an assistant and interpreter - all of them possessing the same quality, warm radiant smiles from the depth of their soul, deep compassion and joyous humour. Daily, patients commented that their meeting with Amchi-la and his young assistants were a great experience.
Tibetan medicine is about 2500 years old. And some of its elements are even older, about 5000 years or more. In the seventh century it made a big leap forward when, the then thousand year old, Indian Ayurvedic medicine was at its height.
The personal physician of Tibetan king, Trisong Detsen, travelled to India and brought the knowledge of the Ayurvedic medicine back to Tibet. Here it was combined with the existing Tibetan medical practice. Trisong's grandson Yuthok Younten Gonpo, who was in his time also the personal physician of the Tibetan king, travelled to India three times to pick up more knowledge. With that, Tibetan medicine really started to flourish.
Perhaps, Yuthok's own life was proof of the benefits of the now fully-grown Tibetan medicine, as he lived to the ripe old age of 125 years. During the following centuries the Ayurvedic medicine began to decline in India.
Much was forgotten during that period, but it was luckily preserved in Tibet. Not only preserved, but also enriched with influences from China, Nepal and Persia. In the eighth century Tibet had its first international medical symposium, with leading Indian, Chinese, Nepalese doctors, plus a Persian doctor. This Persian doctor stayed on in Tibet for quite a while. Persian medicine was also strongly influenced by Greek medicine and philosophy, and parts of this influence is to this day easily recognizable in Tibetan medicine, when you read about the temperaments, and the urine diagnosis. In the ninth century the first book on Tibetan psychiatry was written - the first book ever on psychiatry, I wonder? There are for instance descriptions of ailments resembling bulimia and anorexia nervosa! Some years ago, H.H. the Dalai Lama attended a sriiposium in the US, which included Western psychologists and psychiatrists.
During that symposium the Dalai Lama explained about Tibetan psychiatry. The surprised Western specialists exclaimed - and we thought we had invented psychology, some 200 years ago! Chinese medicine was greatly influenced by Tibetan medicine, and when Mao more or less quenched the knowledge of acupuncture in China, it was preserved in Tibet. The teachings of Buddha are strongly present in Tibetan medicine, but then Buddhism is not a theological, but a psychological religion. The very essence of these teachings is that the mind is where all the phenomena start. The mind is the source for stable health, and when out of balance, for illness. Recognize it? It is a fundamental psychosomatic interpretation!
Compare this with Western medicine, as you read on. Western medicine alleges that it is the only valid medicine, because it is based on scientific research and control. What about 2500 years' experience, isn't that profound research? And as you will notice, in Tibetan Medicine the patient is treated as an individual. What is the right medicine for one is not the right medicine for another. We are all different. Tibetan medicine does not treat the symptoms; it follows a guideline for the diagnosis.
What is important is the cause. The Tibetan doctor has a different approach to the cause, because the patients have different temperaments. So two patients with the same disease will get different medicines, in relation to which temperaments (defects) are involved. Tibetan doctors by no means dismiss Western medicine. We need each other, they say, and praise Western medicine for its solution on acute problems, while chronic diseases are better helped through Tibetan medicine. Tibetan medicine is divided into three groups: Dharma, tantra and somatic medicine.
The theme of this book is the somatic medicine. Just a few words on the two others: Dharma medicine uses spiritual and psychological methods - we would compare such a doctor as a mixture of a priest and a psychiatrist. They aim to make the patient understand the nature of the mind, so that they can control negative feelings. Meditation is one of the important measures. The tantric (yogic) medicine covers the part between the mental and the physical, and aims at changing subtle vital energies. These are the same energies which we in the West stimulate through faith, positive thinking and also through the placebo effect.
A fascinating part of harmonizing these subtle energies is through treatment with Singing bowls. This kind of treatment has become quite popular among some Western practitioners.
The Singing bowls, and small cymbals and bells, are made of traditionally seven different metals: Gold, mercury, iron, lead, silver, copper and tin. The content of each metal varies in the different sizes of bowls. Every metal manifests its individual sound and harmony - each having its individual medical effect. The sounds that are produced have specific overtones, and when the sound is produced it vibrates for an exceptionally long time. These are bowls of different sizes in a set, and they are used to balance different vibratory levels in the body.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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