In the past, every village in Tibet had its own amchi or a person with a lot of medical experience. The villagers consulted the amchi for all kinds of physical problems. When they suffered from mental problems or negative influences, they asked the lamas and astrologers for advice. The lamas and amchis were highly respected in Tibetan society since they contributed to the general physical and spiritual welfare. Since olden days, the Tibetan people have always maintained a strong belief that astrology, medicine and spiritual healing are interconnected.
Before the development of Tibetan medicine as it is now known, there was a substantial body of medical knowledge that already existed. Because mankind had to depend on nature for sustenance and survival, the instinctive urge for health as well as the accumulated knowledge guided people to discover certain remedies for common ailments from the natural sources around them. Plants, minerals and precious stones were used for healing. For example, wearing yu (turquoise) around the neck was considered good for the liver. Also, applying residual barley from the manufacture of chang (Tibetan beer) on swollen parts, drinking hot water for indigestion, and using melted butter for bleeding: these were some of the therapies arising from practical experience that formed the basic knowledge which gradually developed into the science of healing in Tibet. Nowadays, Tibetan medicine is not only practised in Tibet, but also in China, India, Ladakh, Nepal, Mongolia, Bhutan and Russia.
Tibetan illustrated map