Principles of Traditional Tibetan Medicine to Harmonize Ourselves ~ A Retreat at Shambhala Mt Center this December 2014
© 2014 Nashalla G Nyinda TMD
Tibetan medicine is an ancient and time tested comprehensive approach to holistic healthcare for the body, mind and emotional well-being. Focused almost exclusively on creating and maintaining equilibrium within one’s body and mind; the system aims to help one to know oneself, and thus how that relates to the external environment.
There are 4 treatment methods according to Tibetan Medicine
I always encourage people that the first two treatment methods of diet and behavior are the first line of defense and the most important in recovering balance or management of a condition. This is because this is done by the patient on a daily basis and is not necessarily dependent on the physician. AND IT’S EASY to both learn and apply!
In the upcoming Introduction to the Principles of Traditional Tibetan Medicine weekend intensive at Shambhala Mountain Center, we will be focusing on these first two aspects of treatment and self-care.
WHAT WE WILL LEARN ~
During this weekend retreat, we will learn how to return harmony to our body and mind by refining our relationship to the elements and seasons. You will be given tools for identifying the three humors, for encouraging equilibrium, as well as learn how to apply general antidotes when the humors are imbalanced. The ultimate goal is to foster balance in the body and mind while encouraging a direct relationship to self.
Tibetan medicine understands that everyone is an individual, and therefore looked at as a unique makeup of the 5 elements and how that combines to form the “3 humors”. I believe as a physician of Tibetan Medicine that the modern world can benefit from the ancient healing arts of Tibet by making people aware of themselves. Who are they as an individual, how that relates to their symptoms and health issues and then make the connection to the natural cycles and seasons, qualities of food. This is an aspect I not only feel passionate about – but feel it will help give people very simple basic tools to enhance their wellbeing.
Nature is the blueprint ~
Because the external and internal elements are interrelated and in fact based on the same material Tibetan Medicine takes the viewpoint that the sciences of anatomy, physiology, pathology and pharmacology are all based on the 5 elements.
The combination of the elements make up our 3 humors, literally translating as “faults” in Tibetan because they are not stable, they change. This follows the law of impermanence. This development of the 3 humors is based on the principle of the 3 root poisons.
Passion – Agression – Ignorance.
The Root Tantra tells us that the 3 humors reflect an individual balance for each person, wholly unique to them and their experience of health or imbalance in body, mind and spirit. There are 7 possible combinations or patterns of how these 3 humors can dominate within each person. Yet from the physician’s role, each person is treated as an individual with individual instructions. A doctor’s skill is in informing the patient what their dominant elemental pattern is, and how to balance this through diet and lifestyle.
The 3 Humors – Root Poison
rLung (pronounced Loong) WIND passion / attachment / desire
mKhris-pa (pronounced Tri-pa) BILE / FIRE aggression / anger
dBedkan (pronounced Pay-can) PHLEGM ignorance
7 possible constitutional possibilities for how the humors can display themselves –
Duel wind + bile
Duel wind + phlegm
Duel bile + phlegm
All 3 humors combined- wind + bile + phlegm
WHY and HOW will this Tibetan approach increase one’s health, mental and emotional well-being?
The seasons, cycles, stages of life one is in all play a role in how the 3 humors operate. By bringing awareness and a solid simple, yet profound understanding of these aspects, many symptoms can be decreased or eliminated. We will have easily referenced tools and handouts which are the guides. I am passionate about empowering people to be an active participant in their healing process. You will walk away with confidence that you can use the aspects of diet, behavior and harmonizing with the seasons to empower your healthcare. Even if you’re just looking to optimize your natural healthy state; this course is a powerful lens to enhance all aspects the body, mind and spiritual practices.
What are the applications towards my spiritual practice?
Specifically if one is a serious Buddhist practitioner; there are aspects of recognizing and working with the 3 humor’s energies directly in mediation practice can enhance and deepen practice. We will touch on those. If you’re new to meditation; the aspects we will cover are still applicable to basic relaxation or yogic practices that are non-denominational. There will be time for individualizing and catering to what you’re hoping to get out of this course.
People used to ask me when I lived in Asia studying, ‘Why if you come from a culture so rich with modern medical advances do you study such a old system?’ My response was always that if a medical system which is the same today as it’s been for hundreds of years, is still in practice, and continues to produce good results with little or no side effects, it seems to me it has more value in studying it than modern medicine.
What is the importance or relevance of Tibetan medicine in today’s modern heath care system? The answer is simple. Despite advances in modern medicine people are still unhealthy, unhappy or both. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, auto-immune disorders, simple and complex digestive disturbances and a now massive wave of ‘food sensitivities’ and allergies or inflammatory conditions are on the rise. Emotional and psychological disorders are widespread and the number of people on antidepressant medicines is staggering. Patients take one drug to balance out the side effects of another.
This is not to say that there cannot be a marriage of the two worlds. One of the things that I strive to do as a western person explaining a system which is sometimes very different from what we know in a cultural context, is how to apply the principles of Tibetan medicine to daily life. These then can be further applied into whatever medical treatments one is currently undergoing. Many people seek conjunctive and alternative treatments to enhance their allopathic treatments, and this is also very helpful.
Come Join me and learn tools to enhance your well-being! Whether Buddhist or non-Buddhist, healthcare practitioner or not, all will benefit and gain new tools for heath. Please join me as we explore the time-tested wisdom of Traditional Tibetan Medicine.
I look forwards to seeing you at Shambhala Mountain Center this December 2014!
If you are interested to learn more practical applications of Tibetan Medicine check out this lecture given at the Nalandabodhi Seattle Dharma Center.
In it you will find descriptions of the 3 humors, how they show themselves in symptoms and emotions. I cover how we diagnose and various treatment methods. I also give some very simple practical, at home do it yourself suggestions for applying Tibetan Medicine.
Contact the Nalandabodhi book store to order a copy: Available in both DVD or audio CD / mp3
firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling, (425) 275-8818. Their office hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 to 12:00 Pacific Time Zone.
We have expanded the Boulder Tibetan Medicine & Holistic Healing Clinic! Please come see us at our new location!
We are very excited about the changes in our new clinic. Its just a short distance from our old clinic with great off street parking and easy to find. In addition to the ADA access and ramp to our garden level offices which give even greater accessibility to everyone we have added a second room!
Now Both Tsundu and Nashalla can work at the same time! We now have a medicine consultation room and a separate treatment room for the external therapies and Kunye Massage. The Suite has a lovely large waiting room which we share with many talented Boulder acupuncturists and other healing modality practitioners.
This is a lovely spot where we envision expanding our availability and hours even more than we have in the past few months. Call for a appointment and come on by and see our new clinic. Please check out our Google Place Page for a current Coupon.
The new location is – 2955 Valmont Rd. Suite 100 Boulder, CO 80301
PLEASE NOTE – Google Maps has the correct address but for some reason until now the Map continues to show the Pearl Street Location. Until this is resolved please Google the new 2955 Valmont Rd. Address.
© Nashalla G. Nyinda 2010 all rights reserved
Many people ask me exactly what is Kunye Tibetan Massage, what makes it different from regular massage? This special form of massage comes from a larger body of healing practices that are part of the external therapies found in the rGyud bZhi, (The four Tantras of Tibetan Medicine).
In simple terms Kunye means massage therapy when translated from Tibetan to English. The exact meaning of Kunye can carry several translations depending on how it’s spelled. bKu-mNye is one way to write Kunye in Tibetan; this means ‘apply and rub’. If it is spelled sKu-mNye this can be translated as ‘body and massage (i.e. rub)’. Thus, as with many words in the Tibetan language, the exact translation can be tricky. I have seen it written both ways. But in the end, Kunye simply means to give a massage.
Originally Kunye is thought to have developed from the practice of early tantric yogis who used various methods, such as oil massage and acupressure points on themselves to help bring balance to their energy bodies and life-force. The effect sought via these treatments was for the energetic channels to remain clear and open from stagnation. Any stagnancy of energy ultimately leads to blocks, disorders and difficulty controlling the mind and subtle channels when meditating. If one is healthy and free of blocks and stagnant energy; naturally the flow of ones life-force increases, the mind is clearer and emotions are more stable. This serves in supporting ones practice; both in the physical level of flexibility in yogic positions and in the yogis goal of seeking enlightenment through meditation.
As the practices of yoga and meditation developed these practitioners gained deep insights into their subtle body systems. The understanding of the subtle body channels lead to the development of both the chakra system and understanding corresponding points relating to these chakras and energy pathways. Many great ancient civilizations developed an understanding of the body and mind through these means, and the Tibetan culture was no exception to this. The various forms of Tibetan Medicine and massage practiced are not, as is sometimes thought, just a copy of Ayurveda or Chinese Medicine massages. Rather, it developed quite organically just as it did neighboring medical systems. While the early Tibetan healing practices began synthesizing some of the techniques that neighboring medical systems had come to use, there is much that is purely Tibetan. One such example is evidence which points to indigenous Tibetan methods for the use of various oils, fats and applications with stones, mud, and herbs during massage for very specific benefits. While there was a great amount of sharing between the civilizations along the silk route and throughout the southern path of the Himalayas (Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and India), most of the similarities found in Tibetan medicine and other massage techniques come from Ayurveda and Unani Medicine, not from Chinese Medicine.
Slowly, as in all indigenous cultures, the basic wisdom’s and practices permeate out into society. Doctors of Tibetan Medicine as well as ordinary people used Kunye techniques and they became both folk remedies and a formal treatment method which could be found in the Tibetan medical texts. I have received massage from both esteemed and highly qualified doctors and simple women known in their community for their healing ability. Both exhibited the same reverence for the methods found in Tibetan massage and knew of which oils, butters and mixtures to use and under what circumstances.
In my years studying Tibetan Medicine I met and trained under multiple teachers. Regardless of their time or ability to practice massage on their patients; all respected massage as a viable mode of treatment for its ability to treat very specific conditions.
Massage is taught as a part of the curriculum within the rgyu bzhi (4 Medical Tantras) and is a crucial part of any Tibetan doctors training. It is found in two chapters of the 4th Tantra, where many of the treatment methods are explained in great detail. These are the 13th and 24th chapters.
In the13th chapter of the 4th Tantra specific use of oil application, called nums jug, is discussed. It is stated that those who are of old age, weakness of body, stressed with a restless mind, having depression, those who have taken un-nutritious foods long term, suffered excessive blood loss, those who’s reproductive fluids have become exhausted or are not functioning well (either from disease or excessive sex), persons with wind diseases, when the power and strength of the eyes and vision are decreasing, when vision worsens, and those with a tiny body structure combined with a wind nature, all of these will all benefit from oil application.
Many types of oils, fats and medicine butters with a variety of specific healing benefits are discussed. I will cover those in a different article and thus at this time for sake of length, will not include them here.
It is important to note that oil application and massage is not allowed according to our Tibetan medical texts for certain conditions. Specifically those who have weak digestion, lack stomach heat, any chronic indigestion, diarrhea, vomiting, gout, skin conditions with inflammations or open wounds, persons suffering from some type of poisoning, (example directly undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments), during times of experiencing loss of desire for food, for either phlegm diseases and gross overweight conditions, or for one who is excessively thirsty. These are all contra-indicated for oil application.
While some of the contra-indicated conditions might seem strange to those unfamiliar with the principles of Tibetan Medicine, I can assure you there are valid reasons for this. For example, someone who is directly undergoing a poisonous treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy has a highly toxic substance in their body. Massage can only aggravate or spread the poisons deeper into the system and cause more harm to the internal organs and systems. After treatment has ceased and Tibetan medicines for poisons and detoxification from such treatments have been engaged, it is a perfect time to get a massage and help flush the system out further.
Tibetan physicians tend to treat situations such as I just described with medicines that will protect the organs from the poison and protect the immune system during these kinds of treatments before engaging in massage therapies. Likewise those with very weak digestion most likely have a chronic cold condition which hampers their ability to receive adequate nutriments. By the very nature of oil massage it has a heavy, smooth, oily quality. These qualities further weaken the digestive fires and ability to break down food into nutriment. Most especially we will not perform any oil massage on the abdomen as this will kill or greatly harm even a healthy digestive heat system. The exception to this rule is during pregnancy when the abdomen and fetus should regularly be massaged.
Though it is not recommended to massage those who are suffering from overweight conditions, in modern times and especially in the western world this is commonly practiced. One way to ameliorate the negative increase of earth and water (phlegm conditions and disorders) which will allow these populations to receive the benefits of massage is to counteract the influence the oils quality. By counterbalancing the qualities of heavy, smooth, stable and oily have in the basic nature you can prevent excessive accumulation of ‘earth and water’, which will increase overweight conditions and symptoms.
I use oils infused with herbs and essential oils possessing various qualities to antidote the heavy, smooth, oily nature. In some cases I also use powdered chick pea or roasted barley flower to apply and rub vigorously following massage. This is very beneficial for specific conditions where massage is indicated but the patient’s nature of earth and water (phlegm disorder) are too heavy.
In the 24th chapter of the 4th Tantra on jugpa which roughly translates as ‘application’ there are 14 specific recipes given for oils, fats, butters, and substances added to these to remedy very specific disorders. It also re-emphasizes the appropriate and inappropriate conditions for therapeutic massage.
Kunye Therapy has several purposes from a Tibetan health care standpoint. The first is to soothe and relax tensions, relieve stress, insomnia, depression, nerve system dysfunctions and bring balance to the internal elements of the body. The second function is more therapeutic and geared for specific individual disorders. It has great therapeutic value to relieve a variety of ailments in a soft and non-invasive manor.
- Chronic Pain
- Nervous system or autoimmune disorders, such as MS, ALS, Parkinson’s, Fibromyalgia, Lupis
- Spinal and head injuries
- Muscular disorders which cause spasms, contracted, extended or frozen limbs
- Fibrocystic breast disease
- Inner torso and abdomen organs displacement and disorders, such as the diaphragm pain, chronic liver diseases, small and large intestine pain
- Wind disorders are said to be without exception benefited by massage
- Prenatal and postnatal healthcare option for pain relief, emotional grounding and structural issues which arise in pregnancy and childbirth
The various possible forms the kunye treatments can take can includes basic massage similar to Swedish Massage with effleurage and relaxing strokes, treating crucial points in a manor similar to acupressure during the massage, applying medicinal oils, gemstones, hot or cold stones, compresses and massages before or following specific medicated or medicinal vapor baths.
Acupressure points are often employed during the massage to work on the nervous system and organ levels. Each treatment is unique and geared towards the individual body. There are specific strokes and movements designed to open the channels, increase energy flow and vitality.
Many of the feet and hand points are similar to reflexology. Tibetan Massage also incorporates work on the cranium to release the jaw, head and neck tension as well as the release of the spine and vital fluids circulating throughout the body.
No one type of kunye treatment is the most superior among them. Rather it is best to have the massage treatment designed for your unique body-mind needs. Often people fall into deep states of restfulness. This is so even if there are moments of deeper structural adjustments, they are able to relax through them in a way normal structural adjustments do not allow.
I frequently get comments such as, ‘I never felt this good after a massage before’, or ‘I don’t hurt but I feel so different and so good’ and ‘I feel more relaxed than I have in years.’ I often joke with my patients that once you get the Tibetan rubdown you never go back to regular massage. It really is quite special and the changes hold and build upon themselves when the patient receives regular treatments.
In my practice in Boulder, Colorado I find that when I complement Kunye massage with the other treatments used in Tibetan Medicine such as diet, lifestyle and medicines the person is able to find balance and many symptoms go away quicker than without this complementary treatment. This is especially true of neurological and nervous system disorders, as it has a special ability to work with those conditions.
While currently in the USA there are less fully qualified Tibetan Kunye Massage therapists, the practice is gaining some popularity as Tibetan Medicine becomes more known and accepted. Now a comprehensive Kunye training program in Conway, Massachusetts at the Shang Shung Institute for Tibetan Medicine has been established. Other Tibetan Kunye doctors and practitioners teaching this method. It is important however to have a basic understanding of Tibetan Medicine theory to maximize the effectiveness of the treatments. It is my hope that this rarely known healing massage which is a part of Traditional Tibetan Medicine will start to make its way into the mainstream massage world.
To read more about Kunye Therapy and Massage offered at our clinic in Boulder, CO see bouldertibetanmedicine.com
© 2010 Amchi Nashalla Gwyn Nyinda TMD, LMT
All articles are written personally by Nashalla G. Nyinda and are copyrighted. Please do not duplicate any info published by Tibetan Medicine & Holistic Healing on this or any other sight. © 2010
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Dutsi 5 Lums (5 Nectars Bath)
© Menpa Nashalla G. Nyinda 2010 all rights reserved
This bath is one of the man-made baths found in the “making soft” or Lums chapter in the Tibetan Medical tradition. One of the most important baths for healing a variety of disorders it has herbs all found within the United States.
Specifically this bath is used for the following disorders:
- Limb disorders – stiff and immobile, extended or contracted and frozen
- Cancers – specifically benefits cancers of the muscle, bone, nerve and lymph
- Fast Swelling – from general impact, injury and chronic or new wounds
- Menopausal changes and symptoms
- Hunched or changed crooked joints (esp. if followed with massage treatment)
- All rLung (wind) disorders are treated without exception
- Clears joins, skin pours and plasma
- helps acne, boils, skin conditions and rashes, parasitic or bacterial skin disorders
- Helps arthritis conditions
- Contagious disorders
CONTRAINDICATED for the following conditions and situations:
- Food must have been digested, never bathe following a meal or on a full stomach
- Not for any edema conditions
- Any acute or developing fevers must be strictly avoided
- Those who are extremely depleted and weakened from prolonged and difficult illness cannot take these bath treatments. (Please consult a fully trained Tibetan physician if you question the level of weakness and you are unsure if this is your level of depletion or not as some weak conditions may benefit.)
- Lost apatite indicates unsuitable conditions to have dutsi 5 bath treatments
- DO NOT submerge the chest / heart area
- High blood pressure or those with hypertension are unable to have this treatment
- Never submerge the face and head during this treatment
- One should not drink this treatment, it is a BATH ONLY
How to use in localized areas, or when you cannot submerge the chest. Such as upper back pain, neck pain etc.
- One can use a bucket or container and submerge only the limb or use a low water level and lay on the back without submerging the chest.
- Known as “ching lums” a localized applied compress can be made. The herbs are wrapped in a cloth sack, “chang” (barley grain alcohol, but easily substituted for good quality sake is sprinkled and then applied to the localized area and remains there until cooled.
Each ingredient represents a geographical area or element and transmits its own unique healing essence into the bath. This is why it becomes a bath of healing nectar.
1. Rhododendron –
Represents the essence of the grassland meadows “sPang”
In this case we are using the leaf, known as “ba-lu”
(Leaf and Flower have two separate functions in Tibetan Medicine.)
2. Juniper – Juniper Formosana
Represents the essence of the sun and locations where the rays penetrate bringing heat and warmth “Nin”
In this case we must use the leaf, not the berries, as they have differing healing properties; this is called “Shug-pa”
3. Cedar / Tamarask – Myricaria Squamosa
Represents the essence of the water “Chu”
4. Artemisia – Artemisia Sieveriana
Represents the essence of the earth “Sa”
Any local variety of Artemisia may be substituted according to your location as it is well known herbs which grown near to you are more affective for your body due to the shared environmental influences.
5. Ephedera –
Represents the essence of the shady areas, where the sun has less influence, and shade keeps the area cooler, or more moisture falls on that side of the mountain.
Measurements of ingredients:
Generally the ingredients are measured in an equal proportion to one another; however you can change the proportions according to the conditions you are working with.
If skin problems –
Increase amounts of rhododendron
If bacterial or parasitic conditions –
Increase amounts of juniper
If general or mild body weakness / weakness of the 7 bodily sustainers (nutritional essence, blood, muscle, fats, bone, bone marrow or reproductive fluids) (OR) Contagious diseases –
Increase amounts of ephedera
If poisons –
Increase amounts of salt cedar / tamarask
If bad blood has pooled, arthritis and plasma conditions persist, for both new or difficult to heal wounds,, cancers, nerve system conditions attacks by spirits / entities –
Increase amounts of artemisia
INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE:
Traditionally this bath is given for a minimum of 5 days and most beneficial for 7-8 days.
Pre-made herbal compounds of this bath are available, but you ma also gather your own and make in the following manor.
Each ingredient is 5 lbs (1lb each)
- Put these 5 lbs into 3 gallons of water – reduce by 1/3rd, remove liquid keep separate from the solid.
- Again add 3 gallons to the previously boiled substance, this time reduce by ½ (meaning you have 1.5 gallons left) again strain and add the liquid to the previous liquid.
- For the 3rd time you re-boil the solid matter with 3 gallons of water, this time reducing until 2/3rds is gone (meaning you have only 1 gallon remaining), strain adding to the other 2 liquids – this is your base.
This 3 times boiled substance is the material you can use for the 7 days treatment.
To this it is optional to add up to 1 lb of yeast (but I recommend 1 cup for home bathtub use) and ½ gallon of chang (liquid barley beer) – the closest substitute is good milky quality sake. The yeast helps wounds in particular and the chang helps the wind disorders.
Gradually increase the treatment time and temperature daily. For example:
1st day – small amount of liquid medicine into a warm bath with a short time of 15-20 minuets
2nd day – little more amount of liquid medicine for 20 – 30 minuets maximum, temp is slightly warmer
3rd day – 1 hr – warmer temperature, little more amount of liquid medicine from here to last treatment bath
4th day – 2 hrs – hottest temperature
5-7th day slow reduce time and temperature
If there is nerve damage – follow treatments with oily massage and work the wind points and give wind reduction medicines
If there is joint damage – follow by acupuncture
If there is muscle damage – follow by acupressure
Additional Precautions & Notes:
Some need to drink liquids when in the bath during the hottest time. Others who feel light in the head, dizzy etc. must be given warm bone broth in sips when in the bath, and a larger amount of bone broth following a bath.
In general it is good to follow a wind reduction diet following these intensive bath treatments.
NOT for use during PREGNANCY, not due to ingredients, but the hot bath temperature is contraindicated.
All articles are written personally by Nashalla G. Nyinda and are copyrighted. Please do not duplicate any info published by Tibetan Medicine & Holistic Healing on this or any other sight. © 2010
Fundamentals of Tibetan Medicine –
Tibetan Medicine Demystified
Learn about Tibetan Medicine principles and theories that have been in place unchanged, in the written form, since the 7th century.
While Tibetan medicine is largely untranslated and not understood in the Western world, Dr. Nyinda strives to take the mystery out of this ancient healing modality and make it accessible and useful for each person.
Join us for a free public lecture about how to stay healthy using Tibetan medicine principles. Learn about its history and how it is practiced today.
In the weekend course you will learn the foundations of Tibetan medicine and learn to understand the details of the three humors, and how to determine the balance of the elements and humors in the body. Each and every moment one should be careful with ones diet and behavior. One should know that which will affect you in a harmful or imbalanced way and be careful to avoid these actions and foods.
These principles will be covered more in detail on the Sunday Session. If you are a healing practitioner or just interested in maintaining optimal health there will be information for everyone.
FRIDAY Free Public Lecture 6:30 PM
Community Food Co Op
315 Westerly Rd., (Cordata Parkway at
Westerly Road), Bellingham, WA, 98226
Tibetan Medicine Demystified
9-12 PM 2-5:30 PM
Full 2 days or Saturday only
Prior to 3/10/2010
$150 Saturday or both days $280
$175 Saturday or both days $330
Ayurvedic Health Center
203 W. Holly, Suite 201
Bellingham, WA 98225
Call Shakti to register @ 360-672-1473
Consults Following Workshop by appointment only-
Bellingham 1 hr Traditional Tibetan Medicine Health Consults:
Seattle 1 hr Traditional Tibetan Medicine Health Consults:
March 24-25th & April 1-2nd
Please Call Nashalla to Schedule Clinic appointments – 303 570 8242
© Nashalla G. Nyinda 2010 all rights reserved
The instructions for the behaviors to increase health and long life are directed by the Tibetan Doctor to their patients according to the ancient Tibetan Medical Text known as the rGyud bZhi (4 Medical Tantras).
Within the second Tibetan Medical Tantra, known as the Explanatory Tantra, there 31 Chapters total. Three of these chapters are dedicated to the behavior recommendations having their own specific instructions to follow for optimal health based on anatomy, physiology, the relationship of cosmology and the external elements as well as Buddhist belief systems. I will discuss from Chapter 13, 14 and 15.
Because Tibetan Medicine is complex this is not a line by line translation only. Though the all the translated information is contained here I have added some of my own reflections which have come from studying this system for over 10 years. I feel by doing this it can help explain some of the translation. However I feel it is important to say this is only one way to translate the text. The Tibetan language is very complex and each translator will have their own words of metaphors used to explain things. That is why it is vital that of one wishes to truly understand the Tibetan Medical Theory as it is presented in its original form, you must first learn to read and speak the Tibetan Language.
Sections in this Article
1. Routine (Daily) behavior – Chapter 13
2. Seasonal behavior – Chapter 14
3. Permanent (Incidental) behavior – Chapter 15
Daily Routine Behavior: Chapter 13 of the Explanatory Tantra
One who wishes to cultivate health and a long life should wear a protection cord, (blessed by high lamas and realized beings) or gold, silver, dZi stone (ancient precious stone among the Tibetan peoples), jewelry from precious stones such as diamond, pearl, coral or turquoise. Ideally, these should be blessed by the high practitioners to increase their power of protection.
Each and every moment one should be careful with ones diet and behavior. One should know that which will affect you in a harmful or imbalanced way and be careful to avoid these actions and foods.
One should always be honest and truthful in their body, mind and speech. Try to avoid negative thoughts, or harmful thoughts about others or yourself. If one is thinking negatively all the time, one should consider the effect or result this will bring. Ask yourself, will this help or hurt me more, will this thinking produce a good and positive outcome? If not then best let the thoughts go. In this way one should try to think positive thoughts and be of strong confidence in ones body, mind and speech.
Many masters have said that all suffering comes from selfishness, and peace will come from ones compassion for others. If you give up yourself, this concept of “I” and follow the path like a bodhisattva, (one who is giving up their comforts and desires to instead work to benefit others who are suffering) you will cultivate peace. Otherwise the Buddhist viewpoint maintains that your attachments will always bring you suffering and pain.
Therefore, in this modern world (also called the dark-age in Buddhist terms) there is so much selfishness, aggressive thoughts going out towards others, pervading the environment with negativity. The result is we humans are in a time of great suffering. This is exactly why we must strive to act compassionately towards all beings and make a good effort to cultivate peace.
One must be careful and mindful always of the two manifesting conditions that ripen the fruits of disease within the three humors of rLung– pronounced loong (Wind), mKrispa– pronounced Tripa (Bile) and Badkan– pronounced pay-ken (Phlegm). These are the causes meeting the conditions that lead to a changed state from health and balance to excess, deficient or disturbed.
1. Wrong diet
2. Wrong behavior
The five sense faculties must be used in appropriate proportions. For example, watching too much TV or reading in front of the computer all day can damage the eyes. Listening to music that is too loud too frequently can damage the ears. Taking too much of any one taste in excess ruins the sense faculty of the tongue. Smelling too many chemicals or even good smells of perfume and such can damage the nose sense. Excesses in the sensations of feeling, for example, too much hot, too much cold, staying too long in the water and such things can damage the sense of feeling.
Never travel in a doubtful situation, such as a car that is not in good working order, a plane that has had technical issues, that which raises doubt, a faulty ship taken to the water that is unsure of its course. One should not ride a wild animal unused to having a human ride upon them, nor should you go in front of a wild animal that may attack you. Never go into a butcher’s area where they are constantly killing animals, or generally in any area that is constantly used to kill anything. Never go alone to a river or ocean that you don’t know, or else the water will sweep you away and no one will know where you have gone. One should not climb on cliffs in monsoon, or climb onto a steep cliff sides. Both in summer and winter, one should not climb to the tops of the trees. If there is a big fire burning do not venture to the site where it is burning. If one is traveling, first check your route and path and determine if the road is passable and a safe for travel. If you plan to sit, sleep or simply stay in any location, first look carefully at the surroundings, make sure it is suitable and safe. One should not travel at night, but if you must proceed go with a companion and carry a stick for protection.
Because sleep is important for one’s health, if you cannot sleep at nighttime you should fast in the morning and get some sleep (nap) in the daytime. If you have been upset with grief, frightened, intoxicated with alcohol, if your body is weak, if you are of old age, or speak too frequently, it is recommended to take oily foods to keep the winds (rLung) down. Treatment for insomnia includes drinking warm milk, taking yogurt, meat or bone soup, rubbing warm sesame oil on the top of the head and in the ears. However generally speaking one should not sleep in the daytime, otherwise it will increase the Phlegm (Badkan) nature and you may feel heavy in your head and possibly will make you vulnerable to getting a fever. If one commonly oversleeps it is recommended that one can enjoy sexual relations a bit more frequently.
Regular massage oil will keep one healthy, slow ageing, fatigue, and calm any wind disorders. If one has a Bile (mKrispa) disorder, massage is not recommended, as it is too heating and would thus aggravate the heat disorder. Massage by chickpea power is good for Phlegm (Badkan) disorders as oily is too heavy for them as well, this will invigorate the skin, excess body fat and helps stabilize the joints.
On should have moderate and regular exercise. Those with Wind (rLung) and Bile (mKrispa) disorders should not have excessive exercise; instead they should rest and cultivate calm. One should never overexert themselves with any physical activities nor change their body temperature or cool down too quickly after exercising.
In regards to showers, they are considered helpful to keep a good complexion, increase body energy, remove perspiration, and increase ones sexual appetite. Do not put hot water directly onto the head, otherwise it can weaken the eye energy, make the hair fall out and change color. One should not take a shower immediately after eating, instead wait a half hour. Do not take a shower if one has dysentery, a gaseous, boated or indigestion feeling. Diseases of the nose and of the eye should refrain from taking any hot showers.
Because the eyes are the nature of the fire element, the satisfying phlegm can impair them. Tears can flow as a result of the phlegm disturbing the fire and as you age this is a particularly common issue. Therefore the remedy is to use a concoction of barberry bark once every seven days to wash the eyes.
One should refrain from intercourse with non-humans, a person who is married to another, a pregnant woman, one who is unattractive to you, one who is weak or ill. One should refrain from sex during a woman’s menstrual cycle as the blood is considered impure at this time and can harm both the woman and the man during this shedding of bad blood phase.
Seasonal Behavior: Chapter 14 of the Explanatory Tantra
There six seasons according to the texts. In this way there are seasonal behaviors according to how each cycle influences and affects the three humors.
1. Early winter
2. Late winter
Each season is two months in duration. There are two branches of thought and opinion to the looking at the seasons, the Medical Tantra (rGyud bZhi) view and the Astrological (Tsee) viewpoint.
In the medical texts, starting in the early winter month each season is 2 months long. This is because there are one hundred and twenty mental impulses that make one single ‘second’. Sixty of these fast impulses make one ‘minuet’, thirty ‘minuets’ make one ‘hour’ and twenty-four ‘hours’ make one ‘day’. From this thirty ‘days’ make one ‘month’ and twelve ‘months’ make one year.
There are many calculations regarding solstices and equinox times and the direction the sun moves in the sky as the seasons shift, but as this is a whole other complicated subject I will not cover that here. However I will tell you that in astrology these seasons are divided up into four sections according to the elements influence in that season. This means there are 72 days for each element, and 18 days at the end of each 72-day cycle. The last 18 days always represents the spleen or earth element time and a time of transition into the next season.
In the winter when the male’s seed is considered strong one may have sexual relations as many times as one may wish. In the spring one should have sex no more than every two days. In the summer one (the man) should have sex only two times a month. Autumn is the same as spring with only every two days being the maximum. This is due in part to the heat power that is said to ‘blaze in winter when the skin pours close’ making all of the 7 body sustainers stronger in an ideally balanced individual.
For this reason, in the winter ones strength is at its peak. At this time the power of the wind and sun will assume a sharp, course, and hot quality and consumes the qualities of the earth and moon elements and the oily and cool nature. Men will be wise at this time to avoid foods with astringent, hot and bitter flavor otherwise it affects their stamina and sexual abilities. As I mentioned above at this time the skins pours are tight and the internal heat and equalizing wind is boosted.
During this time be careful not to decrease your food consumption as this will lead to a dramatic decrease in the 7 body sustainers. This is because the internal heat is so strong at this time any lack of food will confuse the strong digestive heat and lead to problems. One should always wear warm clothing at this time, receive hot sesame oil massage, and take warm foods, meats and oily foods. Late winter is especially cold and therefore there is emphasis in the texts to staying warm, wearing shoes, sitting by a fire or taking a bath in the suns rays and living in a house with earthen exterior walls and wooden walls on the interior. Also in the later winter Phlegm (Badkan) will accumulate in the abdomen.
In the spring ones strength is at a medium level. At this time the digestive heat declines because the warmth and rays of the sun make the skin pores open again and the internal heat diminishes compared to winter. Because Phlegm has accumulated in winter, it will now manifest at this time by rising up. This will slow digestion down a bit more than usual. Therefore one should have a diet with bitter, hot and astringent tastes to assist the digestion. One should have aged grains, dried meats, honey, ginger tea, hot boiled water and general course and dry foods as course is a quality which antidotes the Phlegm’s heavy, wet and sticky nature. Vigorous exercise and massage by chickpea flour will help pacify accumulated phlegm and various phlegm natures (Badkan) disorders.
In the summer ones strength is at it’s lowest. The heat is very powerful and can drain you of strength. Therefore, one should consume foods that are cool, sweet, light and (limited) oily in power. Avoid heating foods which are salty, pungent, and sour. Exercise should be slowed and only done in the cool of the morning or evening because one should avoid prolonged exposure to the sun. Never drink alcohol that is not mixed in water, bath in cool water, wear thin and light clothing and sit in the shade of trees in a fragrant garden with a cool breeze.
In the monsoon time ones strength again gains its power and cool qualities are naturally increased. The earth and moons qualities will become strong again. This is because the heat is pacified by the rain and wind. At this time sour, sweet, and salty tastes are suitable for this season. Contaminated water can harm the digestive heat at this time and thus one should eat foods that are more heating in nature. Foods that are light, warm, oily, sweet, sour and salty as well as grain alcohol should be consumed. Avoid cool damp places and remain warm.
In the autumn ones strength is at a medium level. While the cool rains cover the earth at monsoon, the sun comes out after and scorches the sky. Thus the accumulated bile and heat from monsoon rises up in autumn. To calm the bile energy one should take foods that are sweet, bitter and astringent. Wearing sandalwood and clothes perfumed with camphor as well as sprinkling fragrant water (such as jasmine) in the room will help dispel accumulated heat.
Basics to remember for food and the seasons:
In summer and winter take sweet, sour and salty food (the first three tastes which increase all three humors). In spring take bitter, hot, and astringent food (last three tastes). In autumn take sweet, bitter and astringent food.
Permanent / Incidental Behavior: Chapter 15 of the Explanatory Tantra
These activities are mainly focused on the practices that direct one towards maintaining a foundation in life filled with good qualities and noble actions. There are ten categories, (the ten Buddhist commandments if you will.)
Three are for body (physical), three are for the mind, and four are for speech.
3 for Body:
- Abstain from killing all living beings.
- Abstain from stealing.
- Abstain from impure sexual activities.
4 for Speech:
- Abstain from lying.
- Abstain from meaningless talk.
- Abstain from harmful speech or talk, which divides people (worst of all).
- Abstain from speech of others that is harsh and creates propaganda and ill feeling.
3 for Mind:
- Abstain from jealousy over another’s possessions.
- Abstain from wishing harm on another and wrong view, which is disbelief in the Buddha, Dharma and the Sangha.
- Abstain from the belief in cause and effect (karma) or distorted views.
Positive Viewpoints of the 10 commandments:
3 for Body:
- We should not only just avoid killing living beings, but we should also try to save the lives of all beings to the best of our ability.
- Instead of stealing we should cultivate generosity and give our possessions away.
- Instead of impure sexual relations, we should maintain sexual relations with only our one wife / husband, girlfriend / boyfriend whom we love and is close to our hearts.
4 for Speech:
- Instead of lying, we should speak only the truth.
- Instead of meaningless talk and gossip, speak only of things which will bring benefit to others.
- Instead of harmful / wrongful speech, we should cultivate soft and helpful speech.
- Instead of harsh / propaganda speech, cultivate the making of good relations between all peoples.
3 for Mind:
- Instead of feeling jealously, one should appreciate the luck and merit of others.
- Instead of wishing harm, one should practice the ways of the bodhisattva and be helpful and compassionate in ones mind towards others.
- Rather than holding distorted views of reality and cause and effect, one should have faith and trust in the reality, which is always present, yet clouded by our basic ignorance.
Therefore these ten negative actions, words and thoughts should be avoided daily, in each and every minuet. Rather one should follow a code of conduct that cultivates the ten positive virtues and qualities of the body, speech and mind in each and every minuet of each and every day.
If one ignores these ten negative actions of the body, speech and mind it will only leads to the creation of negative karma. However, if one acts according to the ten virtuous behaviors of the body, speech and mind it will help us to accumulate good merit from this life to the next and so on. If you can fully practice these ten in each minuet of each and every day; there is no need for any other spiritual practice or retreat. This is the power of these ten virtuous behaviors or commandments. Therefore these ten are the main practices of a bodhisattva.
Do not go without food and ignore the sensations of hunger. Otherwise it can weaken not only the body but also the mind. Ignoring hunger will make the mind unclear and destroy focus. This will then make you loose your appetite over a long time and create such problems as dizziness and circulatory problems where you loose your body heat. This eating disorder also increases the winds. If you have lost your appetite and natural sensation of hunger, it is important to avoid the immediately taking in of heavy foods. First, take only light foods and then slowly as your belly has something in it can you increase your intake of heavy food. Otherwise if you take heavy food right away it will disturb your digestion which has been weakened by lack of food and result in the indigestion which leads to all chronic disorders.
Do not stop drinking fluids, as this will give rise to a thirst disease. This situation will produce disturbances such as dizziness, heart disease, and mental problems. To remedy these problems, take cool foods and drinks.
Do not suppress the urge to vomit. Otherwise this can create anorexia, respiratory diseases and asthma and disturb the flow of ones inhalation and exhalation. This can also bring diseases that make the body swell, leprosy, infectious diseases and eye diseases. The remedies for these disturbances are to fast from food temporally and wash the mouth with licorice soup.
Do not suppress sneezing, as it will disturb all the five senses. This makes the five senses unclear, brings headaches, stiffens the back of the neck and creates TMJ problems or a twisted and stiff jaw. To remedy this, look towards the sun, and use medicated drops in the nose.
Do not suppress the urge to yawn, as it will create the same problems resulting from suppression of seasoning. General Wind (rLung) treatment protocols are the remedy for yawning.
Do not suppress your breath; or if you have exerted yourself do not suppress heavy panting. Otherwise it can create disease of the heart, mental disturbance and possible tumors. Remedy for this is rest and general Wind (rLung) treatment.
Do not deny oneself of the necessary sleep needed. This can give rise to yawning, heaviness of the head, cataracts, and digestive disturbances. The remedies for this are meat soup, alcohol, oil massage and sleep.
Do not suppress the urge to clear the throat of mucous. This can lead to asthma, emaciation, hiccups, heart disease and congestion of the esophagus. To remedy this simply spit it out, take ginger, long pepper, and raw cane sugar.
Retention of tears in the eyes can cause pain in the heart and head, dryness of the nostrils, vertigo and congestion in the throat and esophagus and loss of appetite. To remedy this drink alcohol, take rest and get good sleep, have good conversations, which are sweet and pleasant.
Do not suppress or withhold intestinal gas. This makes the stools dry, brings constipation, inability to expel gas, shooting pain in the intestines, tumors, weak eyesight, deterioration of the body heat and heart disease. (The remedies for this are the same for all the waste products. The same treatment is used for gas, stools, and urination retention.)
Do not suppress ones evacuation motions. This will cause the stagnation of waste matter and it will be absorbed into the blood stream. This causes headaches in the brain, pain in the calf muscles, influenza, and the same results from withholding gas.
Do not suppress the urge to urinate. This gives rise to disorders of the urinary tract, the male genitals, the thighs and the same problems gained from suppressing gas. To remedy these problems take suppositories, get massaged, and ingest medicated butter medicines.
Do not withhold your semen. This can lead to involuntary emissions, disorders of the male genitals and emaciation. To remedy this apply suppositories, have sexual relations with a woman, take sesame oil, milk, alcohol and chicken.
These are the routine (daily) behaviors, seasonal behavior and permanent (incidental) behaviors taught in Tibetan Medicine. The careful observation of the relationship of the bodily humors with outside environmental influence when observed is very profound in prevention of disorders.
I have often reflected about how if we were more in tune with the seasons and how our foods carry powers of various elemental qualities which can affect us as both a unique individual with our very personal balance of the humors we could find ourselves much more happy and healthy in making diet and behavior choices.
Diet and Behavior are the pillars of Tibetan medicine treatment and prevention and time and again when these are regulated there is often little or no need for medicines or accessory therapies. The key is in knowing your own humeral dominance and which humors tend to get out of balance in which season, by what foods and by what mental habits and afflictions.
This is just a glimpse of the behaviors which can be followed for each humor. From my perspective, the more you begin to interact with the qualities and expressions of the elements which make up your unique humeral balance, the easier it is to apply these principles. The behavior regarding morality and life choices is completely from the Buddhist viewpoint of action and resulting karma, but many of the points can be found in all the major religious and political views practiced in the world today. I originally wrote this article many years ago in 2004 when I was a student and have been re-visiting my old writings. I have added a few minor changes and personal comments. May you find it useful.
© 2010 Nashalla G. Nyinda
All articles are written personally by Nashalla G. Nyinda and are copyrighted. Please do not duplicate any info published by Tibetan Medicine & Holistic Healing on this or any other sight. © 2010
Coming into this world with a human body ~ The relationship to mind consciousness & the 3 humors according to Tibetan Medicine
© Nashalla G. Nyinda 2010 all rights reserved
The body and mind are always connected. This connection is made from the beginning of our conception in our mother’s womb. From the mothers womb our body is formed from the meeting of the sperm and ovum, often referred to as the mixing of the red and white drops. From this mixture of the sperm and ovum plus the mind we are formed as human beings. These three are connected, without these three coming together our human body would never be created.
How is it that we attain this human body in our mother’s womb?
The body is originally forming together with the elements quite naturally in a balanced state, and has no imbalance in the three humors of rLung – wind, TrIpa – bile and Bedkan – phlegm. Then our consciousness, which is karmicly connected and linked to the karma and consciousness of our parents, meets our body formation. There are three kinds of karma, best, medium and low karma. What kind of karma we have connected to in conception and with consciousness is due to our own karma and that of our father and mother. Therefore, some are born in high status, rich family, poor family; some can never have children and so on. According to the karmic connection, plus the sperm and ovum joining and the five elements, the body is then formed.
For example, fire is coming from matches and the strike against a surface- therefore fire is created due to the joining of forces. The same can be said with the joining of forces of the sperm, ovum, consciousness and karmic connections and the elements present in ones father and mother.
If the ovum or sperm have a wind disorder the sperm and ovum will be astringent in taste, texture is course or rough, and the color will be black. If disturbed by bile disorder, the taste will be sour; the color will be yellow and smell badly. If the disturbance is due to the phlegm, it will be sticky, sweet and cool. If it is disturbed by a blood disease, the sperm and egg will look and smell rotten. If it is a combination of wind and phlegm it will be in many pieces. If disturbed by a blood and bile disorder, it is like puss. If the phlegm and bile are disturbed, it will be like a knot. If disturbed by wind and bile, the sperm or ovum is dry and in small quantities. If it is a combo of all three humors disturbed, it looks like feces and urine.
These are the qualities that describe the ‘bad seeds’ that will not create a baby. Additionally, if there is no karma present, consciousness will not be present and the mind will not come – meaning you will not be able to be conceived. Even if the seeds are healthy, and consciousness and karma are called in, if you lack the earth element you still will not conceive at all. This is because the earth element holds everything together. The elements help grow what is originally started with the combination of the red and white drops + consciousness + karma. If there is no power of water, there will be nothing to hold the body together. If there is no power of fire, the body in the womb will not ripen. If there is no power of wind, the body will not develop / grow. If there is no power of space, there is no space to grow the organs or bones and any or all of the body parts.
What leads to conception, depends on the quality of the sperm and ovum.
The best quality sperm is white in color, has a heavy potency, sweet taste like honey and is abundant.
The best quality ovum is red like rabbit blood and of good quality. The example is, if it goes on white clothes it will wash off easily- showing that the blood is of good quality.
The average time of a woman’s menstruation is ages 12-50 years. Menstruation is a direct effect of the nutrition the woman takes in from food during the month. It is stored in her womb until it leaves at the time of her menstruation. The energies behind menstruation come through the ovaries (called the 2 channels) and the downwards winds, which bring the blood outwards for an average of 3 days. The sign of menstruation occurring according to the texts is; the woman feels down and cool emotionally, she appears less happy. The breasts become swollen and the hips and eyelids become a bit swollen. There is pain of the hips and back. At that time she will wish to have a man.
From the first day of menstruation until the 12th day, the ovary will be ‘open’. However the first 3days during menstruation the woman cannot conceive at all. Therefore day 4 begins the count of day 1. On the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th days, if you have sex on these days, you may have better chances to have a son. If you have sex on the 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 8th days, you might be more likely to get a daughter. The sex of the child also depends on the parent’s constitution. After these 12 days the ovary is a closed door, “like a lotus which is closing when the sun is setting.” If there are lots of sperm, it is possible to have a son. If there are lots of eggs, it is more likely you will have a daughter. If there are equal amounts of sperm and eggs the child may be a neuter, or hermaphrodite. Also when egg and sperm are equal is possible to have twins. If the egg and sperm are disturbed by strong imbalances of the three humors or environmental disturbances, it is likely the child will have deformities, birth defects, mental absence defects and even non-human forms.
Women will know they have conceived by the following signs.
Immediately upon the white and red drops meeting she will feel satisfied during sexual intercourse. This is the satisfaction that you have had enough pleasure. The body will be feeling heavy and exhausted, and after one month no period will come. Slowly over a period of several months you may vomit and have strong dreams. Dreams with elephant’s tigers, lions and metal things all indicate you are carrying a male child. If you are dreaming of flowers, women, birds, clothes and jewelry this indicates you are carrying a female.
From the fathers sperm the bones, brain and spinal cords are developed. From the mother’s ovum the muscles, flesh, blood, heart, lungs, liver, spleen, kidneys, small and large intestine, stomach, gallbladder, urinary bladder and sexual organs are developed.
The consciousness itself creates the five senses, of eyes, ears, nose, taste, and feeling. Then the five elements help to grow the bigger muscles, bones, nose and smell. This is done first through the earth element. Water helps grow more blood, the tongue, and weight / fluids in the body. Fire gives assistance to creating heat, the different nerves and veins, and color of the various organs and tissues in the body, as well as the shape of the eye. From Wind, the breath is given, the skin and the sensation of feeling is developed. From the element and power of space, the holes in the body, both inner and external are created. Women have 10 until they mature and then the woman has 12, while men have 9 external holes. The hollow organs and such are all created from space. Hearing and the ear are assisted in development by the space element.
According to ones previous life you will be drawn into the same nature as before. For example, if I was a woman in my previous life I will likely want to create that same nature in this life, or if I was soft and kind to others in my last life, then I will want to be soft and kind in the coming life as well. Therefore, whatever this life we now have is manifesting, bad, good, beautiful, ugly and so on is all from the fruit of the previous life and our karma. Whatever the future lives we will create depends on this life and our actions now. Therefore, especially in Tibetan Buddhism and in Tibetan Medicine we believe consciousness never dies until we get enlightened and liberated from samsara. Even as our body dies we go on, this is the nature of karma and why we believe in cause and effect.
The main source of growth for the fetus and ones body is found at the navel. This is connected by the umbilical cord to the woman’s placenta. The placenta is nourished by being attached to the two channels, which connect the uterus to the ovaries on both sides of the womb. From this connection to the fetus, whatever the mothers takes for food and nutrition is given to the fetus. The body is grown step by step, like drawing water from a stream and feeding the fields water to grow the crops. For a total of 38 weeks the child grows from the nutrition and substance of the woman.
Step by step-
In the first week the shape will be like egg yoke dropped in warm water. This is due to the mixing of the sperm and ovum. The second week the fetus is cloud like in shape, loose and like creamy milk that is nearing being curdled, but not quite yet curdled. By the third week the fetus looks fully like curdled milk. In the third week the sex of the child can be determined and changed with rituals, deviation, astrological predictions and certain precious substance prescribed at this time. In the fourth week the shape gives its appearance based on the sex of the child. A round egg shape means a male child, a long oblong (egg like) shape means a female, and a long thin or irregular shape indicates a hermaphrodite or neuter child. At this time in the forth week, the woman will feel heaviness in her womb and hips, feel tired and weak, some nausea and lack of interest in food or activities arises. The taste she desires is sour and the breasts will swell and the mind is very active and thinking many irregular thoughts. She will wish to do many things, sing songs, hang around and such. At this time the woman should limit her desires for foods and sex and take only a little bit of what she desires to satisfy the mind. Otherwise overindulgence will be bad for the fetus. There is no need to stop activities she desires, just modify her actions with regards to doing too much of any one thing. She should also limit her intake of foods she craves and that which is helping her, and not be in excess of any one food.
The second month, or fifth week the shape of the fetus is like a fish, therefore it is called the time of the fish. At that time the human body is forming from the navel outwards. In the sixth week, from the navel the life channel is beginning to form. The life channel is directly connected to the 8th and 16th vertebra. In the seventh week the shape of the eyes is made. In the eighth week the shape of the head is determined. In the ninth week the shape of the upper and lower parts of the body are formed.
In the ninth week the shape of the hips and shoulders are showing themselves as a round shape, and are not yet complete. In the third month, or tenth week, the shape is like a turtle; therefore it is called the turtle time. In the eleventh week the shape of the five sense organs, (eyes, nose, tongue, ears, and feeling) and the shape of the 9 external holes in males and the woman’s external10 holes are made. (Note the extra 2 holes in woman come only after she grows breasts.) In the twelfth week the shape of the five hollow organs, (the heart, lungs, liver, spleen and kidney) are formed. In the thirteenth week the shape of the 6 solid organs is determined, (small and large intestine, gallbladder, stomach, urinary bladder and reproductive sexual organs.) In the fourth month, or fourteenth week, the shape of the hands and legs are made. In the fifteenth week, the palm and pads of the hands and feet are made. In the sixteenth week all twenty digits of the fingers and toes are created. In the seventeenth week all the nerves that are connected from the organs to the brain (internal or CNS) and those which innervate muscles and tissue and the spinal cord (external or PNS) are formed.
The fifth month or nineteenth week, we call the time of the pig, because at this time the fetus looks like a pig. In the eighteenth week, or fifth month all the muscles and fat of the body are created. In the nineteenth week all the ligaments (front of body) and tendons (back of body) are formed. In the twentieth week the bones and marrow are formed. In the twenty-first week the outside skin is starting, but not yet complete, “like cream on the surface of milk.” In the twenty-second week, or sixth month, all the five senses are awakened and all the holes, such as eyes, ears, mouth, anus and such are now open. In the twenty-third week the hair on the head and on the body as well as the nails are formed. In the twenty-fourth week all the hollow and vital organs are becoming more clearly formed and defined. At this time, all the sensations and feelings are beginning to be obvious to the fetus. They can at twenty-four weeks begin to feel emotions and the sensations of good and bad, suffering and so forth. In the twenty-fifth week the wind movements are beginning to govern the movements of the fetus, such as the movement of hands, arms etc. In the twenty-sixth week the mind of the fetus is sharp and clear, and memories of ones past life, and the knowing of where they now are in the womb is vivid and clear.
In the seventh month, from twenty-seventh week until the thirtieth week, all the organs and the body itself, all the external and internal development is increasing and nearing completion. From the eighth month, or thirty-first week, all the body development is becoming large and full. At this time the mother and fetus are exchanging energies and the fetus is growing. For example, when the mother has a good complexion, the fetus will have a bad complexion, and likewise if the fetus has a good complexion the mother will have a bad one. In this way they are exchanging energy. In the ninth month, or thirty-sixth week, the fetus will feel five things. First, they will become saddened and feels like they are not in a clean place. Second, they feel they are in a smelly place. Third, they feel they are in a prison. Fourth, they feel they are in a dark place. Fifth, they feel completely unhappy and will desire to leave the womb. In the thirty-seventh week, the head of the fetus will turn downwards in preparation of leaving the womb. In the thirty-eight week the fetus will come down into the world by birth unless there are other complications. Generally the time to give birth is within the ninth month and 10 days.
Difficulties in birthing:
If when in the womb the mother has lost too much blood during pregnancy or if there was some accident, the fetus will not come out in the 38th week. If the fetus is too big there will be some difficulty in birthing at this time. Additionally, the downwards wind must be healthy, because if the downwards winds are weak or lack energy, then the woman will be unable to deliver the baby.
There are three signs to determine the sex of the child:
Dreams indicate the sex of the baby. If woman dreams of men, or male things this shows a boy will be delivered. The women’s belly position also indicates the sex- if it is higher on right side than left, the baby will be a boy, if higher on the left side it is a girl. If both sides are high there will be twins. If a woman’s right breast has the milk coming in first the baby will be a boy, if the left breast is first with the milk, it will be a girl. If the mother likes to sing songs, likes to be near, or talk to men, or likes to have jewelry, then she will have a girl. If these signs are mixed, the baby will be a neuter, or hermaphrodite.
The sign of the baby is going to delivery immediately:
The hips and back have pain, and the uterus will have cramping. The lower parts of the body will feel heavy, and the belly will ache, and the vaginal opening and clitoris will feel some pain and discomfort. At this time the woman can develop some shortness of breath and urination can discharge uncontrollably. The vagina wall and cervix will open. The assistants to the woman who is birthing should be experienced birth attendants / midwives who themselves have given birth several times. Several experienced woman should be present for the young woman. This is the very dangerous time for both mother and baby, the woman has lost a lot of energy and she should be given nutritious foods directly after the birth for up to three months or until her energy returns.
These stages and steps are how the body-mind comes into form.
Now I will discuss the importance of understanding the inner organs and our body.
The heart is the king, or ruler because it sends the blood supply to all parts of the body. The back lungs are the ministers, and the front lungs are the prince and princess. The spleen is the younger queen, while the liver is the elder queen. The kidney is a defense minister, which protects one from illness and keeps the health strong. The reproductive organs are the storage for ones wealth, or bank. The stomach is the main kitchen and cooking pot, which lives to serve and feed the king. The intestines, both small and large are servants of the queen. Gallbladder is the storehouse for the oil, which the kitchen will use. The urinary bladder is the water tank. The two excretion holes, the urethra and anus are the water taps, which serve to drain the excess and waist out of the body.
Now I will explain the quantity of the three humors in the body and the appropriate measurements:
In the body we can measure how much of each humor we should have within our body. They are measured as the following examples, and if they are under or over we have a deficiency or an excess of that humor.
rLung should measure the size of one full urinary bladder. TrIpa should measure the size of a man’s scrotum. The Bedkhen should measure three cupped handfuls (both hands cupped together = 1). Blood and stools should measure 7 full-cupped handfuls. Lymph and urinary fluids should measure four cupped handfuls. Oils and fats should measure two cupped handfuls. Nutritive essence and semen should measure a single handful. The brain should measure one full-cupped handful. The flesh of the body is different for the woman from the man due to thighs and breasts, therefore the woman has 20 more fist fills than a man, and a man has 500, making the woman’s total 520.
The bigger bones have 23 different categories. Vertebra have 28 pieces, ribs number in at 24, teeth are 32. The small fractional bones number at 360, the bigger (major) joints are numbered at 12, the small (minor) joints are numbered at 210. There are 16 large ligaments; there are 900 tendons all over the body. There are 2100 hairs on the head alone, other body hairs numbers in at three-million-five-hundred-thousand on each limb, and fourteen million on the rest of the body. There are 5 vital organs, and 6 vessel organs and 9 orifices. The correct, measurement for ones height should be the length of your outstretched arms. If your body is disproportionate, your height will be less than your arms length.
The nerves are developed in the womb from the navel as we previously explained. These are the source of the three humors. The first nerve channel, which is the nature of the water energy, goes from the navel to the head and creates the brain. This nerve creates ignorance and delusions, Timug. Ignorance and delusions are the root cause, which ripen into the fruit known as Bedkhen. Therefore from the Timug, the Bedkhen nature arises. Timug is always located in the brain, or the crown chakra. The second nerve channel which comes from the navel, goes directly to the heart and governs Sogtsa (life channel) – which is the seat of the Shedang, or aggression / aversion. From this root of the Shedang, the TrIpa is the resulting fruit. Sogtsa (life channel), is determined by the blood and is called the black channel, and is located in the second chakra directly opposite the space between the 8th and 10th vertebra. The third nerve channel goes from the navel down to create the genitals and the root of desire and greed, Dodchag. Dodchag is the root of rLung and located in the secret chakra. These nerves are also indicators for where the three humors and energies are located in the body. Badkhan is located in the head, TrIpa is located in the middle of the body, and rLung is located in the lower part of the body.
Now I will explain about the other nerves, which assist the power of the five senses. These are called the Channels of existence. First is the first chakra, located in the brain, and is surrounded by 500 nerves, which helps the five senses work properly. The second chakra is located in the heart and governs memory and clarity of the five senses and contains 500 nerves. The third chakra is located in the navel and contains 500 nerves, which creates the whole body form. The fourth chakra is located in the genitals, and assists the creation of offspring and is surrounded by 500 nerves. All these nerves are very interconnected to the mind and are very important and are the root of all life. The shapes of the nerves vary, short, long, thin, wide and are interconnected to one another like a net, or the veins of a leaf.
How is it that this body connects with the mind?
The nerve connected to the brain is responsible for illusion and ignorance. The one connected to the heart is responsible for blood and aversion and aggression. The third is connected to the genitals and is connected to desire and attachment. These three are always connected to the mind, and are sometimes referred to as the three root poisons. These three poisons when not attended to create many problems for our human life. These three create the three humors, and every sentient being has these three humors, with the exception of plants, trees and rocks. The wind, bile and phlegm are created from these roots.
For example when you get too much attachment – like when you love someone too much, then you create too much attachment to other issues and forms, like attachment to making more money, gaining power, all these things. These attachments will all give rise to the wind disturbances. Usually the three poisons are created from ignorance, that which we are blind to seeing. From that ignorance the source of all suffering and disease will arise. Therefore we have lots of ripe conditions to cause diseases such as diabetes, lymph disease, cancers, mental illness and such. We cannot say exactly how each disease is specifically caused by this or that, instead in Tibetan Medicine we recognize the one main source of disease is ignorance.
It is important to know that ignorance is always that which we are blind to seeing. Ignorance is always there, until you reach enlightenment. For example, ignorance is like your shadow, always with you. When birds fly high in the sky above the ground the shadow still is projected with the bird, where the bird goes, his shadow goes. Therefore all sentient being wish for peace and work hard for peace, yet still we never get a chance to leave our basic ignorance. This is how we create the three poisons continuously. However, the individual sources of disease can be located by seeing where and how they arise from ignorance and then move into the three secondary root causes- Timug- ignorance / delusions, Shedang- aggression / aversion, and Dodchag- attachment / desire. From these three, the fruit ripens into the humors of rLung, TrIpa, Bedken.
As we know by now the rLung, TrIpa, and Bedken is located in the body, which has been created from the sperm, ovum, consciousness, karmic connection and five elements. There are 15 different manifestations of the three humors. There are 5 types of rLung, 5 types of TrIpa, and 5 types of Bedken, these equal 15. If these fifteen are balanced they are the primary root cause of disease. If these fifteen are imbalanced, then it is a fully manifested disease. How? These fifteen are causing all the problems for the seven body sustainers and therefore affect all of ones life, health and mind.
The seven body sustainers are:
1. nutritive essence
6. bone marrow
7. regenerative / reproductive fluids
There are three waist products:
For example, if TrIpa is disturbed it may burn all the nutritive essence, then burn the blood, organs, etc. This is TrIpa’s nature, that of the sun and heat. Even if the heat is in the lower parts of the body the fever will rise automatically and burn everything. This is why TrIpa is always associated with fevers and heat diseases. If Bedken is disturbed the body will get too cold. This cold is the nature of Bedken; it destroys all the heated parts of the body. Even though Bedken is located in the upper part of the body, it will automatically go down when it is disturbed and this is why Bedken is always associated with the cold diseases. If rLung is disturbed, the effects of hot and cold depend on the majority of the other humor- if it is TrIpa, or if it is Bedken. This is because wind is how all disease is moved throughout the body. If the majority of the humor disturbed is TrIpa, then it will become a hot disease, if the majority is of Bedken, it will become a cold disease. This is why rLung is the source of disease and is commonly mixed with the other two humors, though it can act independently. When rLung acts independently it can cause other diseases.
Therefore the rLung, TrIpa, and Bedken are helping grow the body in the womb.
Secondly they help the body to develop, grow, remain stable and maintain bodily functions in a healthy way.
Lastly, these three humors inevitably become disturbed and go to war within the body and create the circumstances, which make the body cease to be. At this time death will occur.
Each of these three humors are connected to the five elements, from the beginning of conception, throughout life, and finally begin to disintegrate as life leaves the body. When death is approaching within hours there are signs. At this time all the 5 elements, and with them the five senses begin to dissolve. First earth dissolves into water and at that time the eye cannot see. Second when the water dissolves into the fire all the holes, (9 for men, 12 for women) eyes, ears, mouth, so on are drying up. At this time you can not hear sound anymore. Third when the fire dissolves into the wind, all the bodily heat dissolves from the limbs inwards towards the heart and the sense of smell is lost. Fourth, wind will dissolve into space. At this time the breath leaves the central channel and lungs, breathing stops and you will no longer have the sense of taste and also loose the sense of feeling.
These humors and the five senses are connected all together, and are affected by the following; seasons, spirits (gDons), diet, and behavior.
How do you know when the rLung is disturbed?
One can get immediately angry, feels some disturbance (meaning increasing, decreasing, or general disturbance) within the five senses. One may feel unhappy, with emotions changing fast, blood pressure can fluxuate up and down, one may feel dizzy, and sometimes one may faint. The seven body constituents will be decreased and one will become thin, weak and old faster than they should. You can say with certainty that wind is disturbed if these three are disturbed- disease in the heart, life channel, or large intestine. It is also possible that you will have disease in the bones, ears, or skin. If these symptoms show themselves, you will need to prescribe the medicines according to the disease. For example if the rLung is disturbed and heart disease is present; you would prescribe medicine in combination, for the wind and the heart both.
The corrective diet and behavior for rLung are the following:
Keeping the body warm, sitting in a quite place among good friends and having sweet and kind conversations. Being quiet and still, resting. Avoiding excessive sexual contact and activities. Foods should be warm, oily, and heavy such as whole grains, hot milk, boiled water, eating the meat of animals and having bone soup (except no goat and no pig) taking fermented barley beer, and minimal salt.
How do you recognize a TrIpa disease?
If there is a bile disturbance (decrease, increase, or general disturbance) there can be a lung fever, possible liver fever, gallbladder fever, small intestine fever, general fevers and flu’s, or infectious diseases. If the lungs, liver and gallbladder are disturbed one knows with certainly there is a TrIpa disease. It is also possible to see disturbance in the blood, eyes, and abnormal perspiration. When we treat TrIpa, one would prescribe combination medicines according to the disease. You would treat the heat, (the nature of TrIpa) along with medicine specific to the gallbladder, or whatever is needed.
The corrective diet and behavior for TrIpa are the following:
Taking cool showers, staying out of the sun and instead sitting in the shadow of the trees by the cool stream. Avoiding strenuous activity especially at midday and taking frequent breaks. Foods should be cool in nature, such as mineral water, cooled down boiled water, fresh butter, soy, bananas, raisins, naturally sweet foods, bitter dark green vegetables such as dandelion greens, rice and non-sour and fresh yogurt.
How do you recognize a Bedken disease?
The body heat is weak, and one feels cold. It is difficult to digest ones food, stomach pains are frequent, mostly the earth and water nature is increasing, one feels heavy, and ones mind feels foggy and unclear. One may feel lazy and weak not wanting to move much and feel very sedentary. The specific cold and Bedkhen diseases are the following, stomach, spleen and kidney problems. It is possible that the nutritional essence will be disturbed. Also possible that the stool and urine, the urinary bladder, nose and tongue will be disturbed. As with the other two humors you would prescribe combination medicine’s to reduce the cold and assist the disease of the organ or what is most disturbed.
The corrective diet and behavior for Bedken diseases is the following:
Exercise and strenuous activity, avoiding cold and humid places. Keeping the body warm and dry. Taking warm baths, such as in hot sulpher springs. Foods should be hot and light, such as year old cereals, beans, rice, chicken, fish, hot boiled water, honey, buttermilk, pomegranate, milk and ghee, moderate amounts of alcohol can be used.
Through these behaviors and diet the body can be brought into balance, and the mind can be balanced and calm. Otherwise the body and the mind and the humors will become disturbed. If we do not know how to correct this we will be disturbed on some level of our body and mind.
As all human beings wish to have peace, calm and happiness in their life, we should always seek to find the balance in these three humors and the elements that influence them. Through diet and behavior, understanding the seasons, and all these various things, which influence our tendencies to get out of balance, we can draw ourselves back into balance through corrective diet and behavior. Sometimes herbal remedies will also be prescribed to bring these humors into balance. By seeing ourselves clearly we can assist the body and mind to find calm and stability.
This has been a brief explanation of the influences of the body and mind and how they work together in the Tibetan medical system. They are inseparable from the moment of conception up until death. By working with them together we can develop peace of mind and body through balance in our three humors.
I hope this information presented here can be of intrest and help to those wishing to understand some basic Tibetan medicine princibles.
Nashalla G. Nyinda TMD