Introduction to Tibetan Medicine ( Sowa Rigpa )

Buddhism underlies and informs all aspects of Tibetan medicine and the medical texts are regarded as teachings of the Buddha himself. The Buddha taught that the mind is the basis for the existence of all phenomena and thus developing the means both to know the mind and to control it is the key to overcoming suffering. It is the fundamental ignorance of our situation which keeps us trapped in the cycle of birth and death and from this ignorance arise three aspects of mind: desire, hatred and indifference. Closely connected with these aspects are the three energies of wind, bile and phlegm. All living creatures and everything that grows are compounded from the five elements of water, earth, fire, air, and space and it is in this material basis of elements, in other words the body, that the wind, bile and phlegm energies can manifest.
In Tibetan medicine the art of living and healing is related to the concept of harmony, and disease can result when these energies are out of balance.
Wind energy is present in everything that moves in our body, the nervous system, the sensory functions, breathing, digestion, movement and circulation. Wind energy also governs mental well-being and stress.
Bile energy controls the regulation of warmth in the body, liver function and blood circulation.
Phlegm energy regulates the cold energy in the body as well as fluids, hormones and the lymph system.
These three energies arise from emotions and deep underlying attitudes that are conditioned by primordial ignorance. We go from life to death and again to life without understanding this cause.
From the point of view of Tibetan medicine the connection between body and mind is clearly seen. When the basic energies are disturbed by emotions, seasonal changes, ways of eating or behaviour, they can give rise to many different kinds of disease.