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To make a diagnosis, Tibetan physicians use their six-sense consciousness. They mainly emphasize pulse reading, visual diagnosis (tongue and urine), hearing and investigation. Noting medical history is an important part of the examination. In general, they do not use any machines or electronic equipment.

Pulse reading

Tibetan physicians read the patient’s pulse to discover the nature of the disease. They read the pulse on the radial artery – at a body point where all psychic, humor, and organ energy pulses flow with the arterial blood. Just as an expert fisherman knows how to read the language of the sea waves, an expert physician reads the language of organs and heartbeats, and interprets the signs of various diseases. The radial artery is a messenger which carries the information to the surface of the patient’s body. The information is given through the pulse characters. There are widely documented instructions and rich practical accounts on pulse reading by ancient and modern Tibetan physicians.

Visual diagnosis

The visual diagnosis method (urine, tongue, ear, eye, veins, skin, nail, and hair and constitution examination of general body) uses the sensory organs and their perceptions.

Urine analysis

Urine analysis is a method that examines the physical residues of urine. It gives clear indication on the physical-body pathology. The patient’s first morning urine (urine after midnight and early morning) is collected and kept in a porcelain. The physician examines the urine. The color, vapor, smell, thickness, and sediments in urine give indications to the disease.

Tongue diagnosis

Tongue diagnosis is an important method often used by Tibetan physicians. The tongue is a mirror that reflects the nature of the disease and its digestion symptoms. Digestion is the central motor of metabolism, and its regulation by the three humors is the central subject of physiology. There are numerous tongue characteristics depending on different diseases, but the following three are the principle characteristics for the three humors:

Wind disorder: tongue appears dry, red, large, and with red pimples

Bile disorder: tongue is yellowish, has a thick cover and bitter taste

Phlegm disorder: tongue appears whitish, wet, and smooth, with a thick cover

Physicians of the traditional Tibetan medical system also read eye and ear veins. The ear vein reading is especially useful for the diagnosis of children’s diseases.

Interview and Investigation

Tibetan physicians may also ask questions before or after reading a pulse. It is always better to give a clear and vivid case-history summary. It helps to analyze the disease in a clearer way, along with the pulse and urine analysis. The various steps of making diagnosis mentioned above can be appropriately performed only by a highly experienced physician with good clinical skills. However, pure and good motivation, combined with a compassionate approach towards patients, is also necessary in order for the doctor to be a successful physician. In the traditional Tibetan medical system, a doctor must be smart and intelligent to be able to make the correct diagnosis and implement the appropriate treatment. Sometimes, a consultation with an experienced senior physician is also necessary. For each Tibetan doctor, the most important goal is to alleviate the patient’s suffering and thus to make him happy and satisfied. Each doctor hopes that the patient will follow his lifestyle and treatment regimen advice.

Tibetan doctors always welcome patient’s comments and suggestions about possible ways of improving the therapy. In this way, traditional Tibetan treatment methods can catch up with the changing demands of modern patients. Nowadays in the West, science and technology are highly advanced with very accurate means of analysis, able to interpret any health problem. The traditional Tibetan medical system shows that all the health problems are interdependent and caused by both internal and external influences (e.g., improper diet, lifestyle, mental imbalances and seasonal weather changes). For this reason, mutual cooperation between Western and the traditional Tibetan medical system can result in advancement of treatment for the benefit of all humanity.

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