From an article by Ann Hendren Coulter, PhD in Alternative & Complementary Therapies, October 1998
The doctor tries to understand the patient as a person. It is the "practice of compassion on the part of the practitioner". Tibetan medicine doctors provide patients with behavioral attitudes, diet and medicine to treat the disease. Unfortunately there is a limited supply of herbs and remedies.
The first written work on this system was done in the 8th century as a question and answer dialogue between physician and student. It had 156 chapters. The three basic tenets of the system are wind, bile and phlegm (humors) and discusses howthey relate to disease and how to maintain health through diet, behavior and seasonal adjustment.
The five energies of the physical world-earth, water, fire, wind and space connect to the energies of the body by way of the three humors. It is believed that any illness is a result of some combination of dietary imbalance, behavioral factors, seasonal maladjustment or spirit problems.
The practitioner uses pulse taking, urinalysis and extensive questioning to make a diagnosis. Pulse taking is a complex mixture of Chinese and Ayervedic styles. Urine is looked at for color, odor, vapor and froth for traces of disease. There is also a visual examination of the tongue. The questions are used to understand the patient, how they live, what their situation is.
The treatment consists of herbs, Golden Needle acupuncture, dietary and behavioral changes. There are more than 2000 herbs used in this system, including gems, minerals and plant substances. A combination called A Wish Fulfilling Jewel is a medicine that may treat cancer.
FDA has recently approved a small study called Phase I/Phase II meaning they are testing simultaneously for safety and efficacy. This is for women with breast cancer and will ultimately include 30 women from the San Francisco area. Dr. Yeshi Donden is the researcher. Six different herbal forumlas will be given to the women. I have questioned this study design as I wonder if any of the 30 women will be found to benefit by the 6 treatments. In Eastern medicines, treatment is individual. It may be that none of the women would benefit from these herbs, but in fact need different combinations. The women will NOT be chosen because they respond to these treatments, but will be chosen randomly in the way Western science has evolved its testing. It may end up being a useless study in many ways, or may set back research into Tibetan or herbal medicines if there is no positive effect. In fact, it may not be appropriate to look at Eastern medicine from a Western perspective at all. See Ann's testimony to NCCAM for more details.
Check out www.europe.com/~itm/tibet.htm or http://omni.cc.purdue.edu/~wtv/tibet/medicine.html
LINK to information,
lots of resources
June 2000 enrolling
patients for studies
Dateline Story on Tibetan Herb Study
LINK to site offering: an herbal formulation based on a traditional Tibetan recipe. More than 50 different research papers have been published on Padma.
Dr. Eliaz, June 2004
"News and Research"
Eur Cytokine Netw, 7-9/2004
LINK to Tibetan clinics
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