Tara Rokpa's links with TTM


Therapeutic Methods


Other treatments


TTM treats the whole person rather than just the disease, placing its remedy for the immediate problem in the larger context of working for a deeply-rooted long-term welfare of the person. Wherever possible, 'softer' treatments are preferred to harsher ones. The order in which the four main types of treatment used are presented here - i.e. lifestyle changes, diet, medication and external treaments - is the preferred order of use.

Thus, if a patient's problem can be overcome by changes in their way of living, sometimes by very simple things, such as learning to keep their kidneys warm, to avoid certain climatic conditions etc. etc., then this is best and there is no need for medication, which treats the symptoms rather than the cause. Change of diet is the next degree of treatment. If lifestyle or dietary advice cannot alone resolve the problem or if time presses, medication is used. Sometimes even more rapid measures need to be taken, in which case minor surgery, moxibustion, application of warm packs, mineral baths etc. may be required.


In practice, a doctor often uses a synergetic mixture of lifestyle, diet and medication to bring the patient back to health, sometimes with the adjunct of the more external treatments to accelerate the process.


The human body is highly-complex and remarkably adaptable. Yet its adaptability has its limits and these limits vary from person to person. According to the way an individual is constituted of the five elements and three biodynamics, certain life conditions will be helpful and some harmful. These conditions concern the places in which they live and work, the way in which they work, their human relationships, how they dress according to the weather, whether they smoke or drink, their work/sleep/leisure patterns and so on and so forth. In general, the TTM doctor must assess the physical and psychological environment in which the person exists. This environment, like the patient's body, is made of the five elements - as discussed in the five elements section - and will be constantly affecting the elemental equilibrium of the body. This in turn will influence the three biodynamics and they in turn may produce clinical repercussions. Particular attention is paid to the effect of climate and season on the body.

Each person is unique. Each lives in unique circumstances. Thus there are guidelines but no hard and fast rules. What may be good for one patient may be harmful for another. The doctor needs the time to know the patient and to apply all his/her intelligence to detecting what in the patient's lifestyle may be wrong.

This section of TTM is very interesting for the West, where irregular, over-stressed, emotionally-unstable etc. lifestyles are very common and where the environment is polluted, noisy and sense-intensive. In traditional Tibet, people had very stable lifestyles and diet and lived with nature. If one wonders whether then TTM doctors are the best qualified persons to deal with modern Western life, it is worth considering the fact that their fundamental understanding of the'elements' is something which should be universally valid. Furthermore, the TTM doctor offers the unique chance of a 'view from the outside' of life habits that become taken for granted. The objectivity often reveals the obvious that no one has yet seen.

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Diet is another situation of interdependence: between a patient's particular elemental cum biodynamic make-up and the elemental nature of his or her diet. This interdependence is not constant and changes with the seasons and with the years. TTM doctors with some experience of the West are aware both of some (to them) obvious things which may help their patients but also of the fact that things are very different in the West than in Tibet. Tibetan people are the result of a lot of natural selection, living in tough conditions at a high altitude with limited food resources, mainly grain, dairy products and meat. Their climate is very particular. The guidelines of diet that TTM doctors apply traditionally are well-suited to Tibetans in Tibet but these guidelines, as well as those that come from India in TTM's ancient medical texts, are only partially suited to the West. Much research needs to be done as TTM understands underlying principles of diet which are universally useful and may prove very helpful, once adapted to other local circumstances.

Dietary advice is of two types: general and temporary. The general advice is based upon the doctor's assessment of the patient's constitution and lifestyle. The temporary advice is particularly prescriptive for the complaint with which the patient presents. It may be considered very helpful for a patient to drink beer, eat lamb, avoid salad and tea etc. for a few days if a wind biodynamic is temporarily out of kilter.

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Sample materia medica and medical paintings in a Tibetan clinic

TTM has an extremely rich pharmacopoeia. Its medicines are mostly compounds, made of anything from 5 to 70 substances, drawn from several thousand figuring in its materia medica. These take the form of pills, powders, decoctions, medicinal butters etc. which are very often prescribed over a period of two or four weeks. Very often the prescription consists of three or four different compounds, one for the morning, one at lunch and one in the evening, with sometimes another before retiring.

Extremely interesting results have been obtained with TTM's "precious pills". These highly-complex medicines are its speciality. They result from long, highly-sophisticated and labour-intensive processes of purification and detoxification but, being based upon rare minerals and metals, cannot be used in the West. Some research on them is in under way in China and Israel.

A special page on this site is dedicated to the medicines used in TMM.

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These include:

    Application of warm herb packs to meridian points
    'Light moxibustion', using herb cones on meridian points
    Hot-iron moxibustion (not practised by TTM doctors in West for legal reasons)
        N.B. acupuncture does not form part of TTM, although some TTM physicians have trained in         it elsewhere and use it to complement their healing art
    Herbal baths
    emetics and enemas
    hot or cold fomentations
    blood-letting (not practised by TTM doctors in West for legal reasons)
    minor surgery (not practised by TTM doctors in West for legal reasons). It is interesting to note that Tibet was one of the first countries in the world to practise cataract surgery (some thousand years ago) using a 'couching' method.

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