AchievementsImportant Achievements for Traditional Medicine in Bhutan for the last 10 years
2004 – Developed and published Origin of Sowa Rigpa with support from the Royal Government of Bhutan.
– Started Annual Traditional Medicine Conference with support from the World Health Organization.
2005 – Developed and published Traditional Classification of Diseases and related health problem with support from the Royal Government of Bhutan.
2006 – Organized Bhutan-Japan Symposium on Conservation and Utilization of Himalayan Resources with support from the Royal Government of Bhutan and JICA
– Developed and published Standard Treatment Guide for Traditional Medicine with support from the World Health Organization
– Developed and published High Altitude and Low Altitude Medicinal Plants of Bhutan with support from the Royal Government of Bhutan and the World Health Organization
2007 – Developed and published Traditional Medicine Formulary of Bhutan and Adverse Drug Reaction Guidelines with support from the Royal Government of Bhutan
– Started sending Traditional Medicine doctors to Mongolia to pursue master degree in Traditional Medicine with support from the Royal Government of Bhutan and the World Health Organization
– Developed and published National Traditional Medicine Professional Service Standards with support from the Royal Government of Bhutan
– Reviewed and Revised the Curriculum for Bachelor degree and Diploma in Traditional fMedicine as per the University requirement with Support from the Royal Government of Bhutan
– Develop and published Therapy Guidelines for Traditional Medicine Practitioners with support from the Royal Government of Bhutan
2009 – Started publishing Menjong Sorig Journal for Traditional Medicine practitioners with support from the Royal Government of Bhutan and the World Health Organization
– Hosted Seventh International Congress on Traditional Asian Medicine (ICTAM VII) with support from the Royal Government of Bhutan and the International Association for the Study of Traditional Asian Medicine (IASTAM)
– Developed and published Handbook on Quality Control of Raw Materials with support from the Royal Government of Bhutan
– Developed and published Monograph on Medicinal Plants of Bhutan Vol. 1 and Vol. II with support from the World Health Organization
2010 – Published second Edition of Traditional Classification of Diseases and related health problems with support from the Royal Government of Bhutan
Though gSo-ba Rig-pa took shape in Tibet, this medical tradition, which is still practiced in Bhutan, has always been characterized by the diversity of origins. It is based on Indian and Chinese traditions and also incorporated ancient medical practices connected with magic and religion. However, in essence, it is based on the great principles of Buddhism and provides a comprehensive way of understanding the universe, man, and his sickness.
These two great systems of thought inspired Bhutanese traditional medicine, but there were also local influences. In many ancient accounts, sickness is usually attributed to demonic causes. Local gods, demons and spirits of all kinds could be considered as responsible for certain illnesses. To obtain healing, it was necessary to practice particular rituals and only monks or magicians were in a position to do so. This medical practice thus involved much divination the means of diagnosing and recognizing the spells causing the illness and exorcism as the way of treating the patient. And even though medical techniques in Tibet and Bhutan developed subsequently observation, experience, study and knowledge, popular beliefs had a definite influence in the way traditional medicine evolved.
Over and above these various influences, Buddhism itself is at the heart of Bhutanese medical traditions. Buddhism teaches that the existence of phenomena and suffering (sickness, old age and death) have a single origin that prevents man from reaching enlightenment, namely ignorance.
This is the origin of the three moral poisons: desire, hatred and delusion. In turn, these three moral poisons will produce the three pathogenic agents – air, bile and phlegm, which are the origin of sickness if they are imbalanced. With its overall conception of the universe and life, Buddhism is thus a way of linking medical theory to the same single source, in which sickness finds its natural place. Only knowledge, leading to Enlightenment, can free mankind from this painful existence.
It was only after reaching enlightenment and understanding of the ties binding man to this world and the means of freeing himself from them that Buddha could define the origin of pain, discover the way to eliminate it and teach an effective theory. It is therefore not surprising that he became the most outstanding healer.
Through his own experience he discovered the art of healing old age, sickness and death. The divinity of medicine, Sangye Menlha, is represented in traditional iconography with a blue body. His right hand holds out the Terminalia Chebula (Aru), which is believed to cure all illnesses, as a gift. In his left hand is a bowl of ambrosia, the elixir of immortality.