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Tibetan medicine wins global recognition
update:September 18,2016
Sept. 18, 2016 -- Attendees of the first international forum on traditional Tibetan medicine gathered in Lhasa, Tibet, Tuesday to share ideas and celebrate the 100th anniversary of a Tibetan hospital.
Men-Tsee-Khang, also known as Tibetan Medical and Astro Institute, was founded in 1916. It was formally named Tibet Autonomous Region Hospital of Traditional Tibetan Medicine in 1980.
Tibetan medicine, or Sowa Rigpa in Tibetan, is over 2,000 years old. It has absorbed influences from traditional Chinese, Indian and Arabic medicine.
Similar to traditional Chinese medicine and in sharp contrast to biomedicine, Tibetan medicine, which is mainly practiced in Tibet and the Himalayan region, uses herbs, minerals and sometimes insects and animals to treat afflictions. It is particularly well known for its digestive, cardiovascular, and rheumatoid treatments.
Tibetan medicine can be traced back to its roots in the region's monasteries and, even to this day, many of the most renowned doctors are often high monks. It uses a patient's urine to diagnose ailments, as the color, foam, smell and sediment of urine can help with diagnosis and inform treatment plans.
Stephan Kloos, a researcher at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, said Men-Tsee-Khang had been crucial to the development of Tibetan medicine, as generations of Tibetan medics had passed through its doors.
"Tibetan medicine as we know it today has absorbed medical knowledge from China, India and Persia to create something unique from the sum of its parts," he said.
"Its very strength, resilience and dynamism derive from the centuries of exchanges between practitioners and scholars from diverse backgrounds," he added.
Damdinsuren Natsagdorj, professor at Otoch Manramba University of Mongolia, said that Mongolian and Tibetan practitioners had been studying in each other's countries for more than a thousand years. "There is a very close relationship between traditional Mongolian medicine and Tibetan medicine."
"Many people around the world are studying Tibetan medicine, which means it is prospering," he said.
Tibetan medicine was added to China's intangible cultural heritage list in 2006. The ancient practice has also won the support of the World Health Organization, according to Natsagdorj.
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