What Is the History of Tibetan Medicine?

Tibetan medicine has roots in the ancient, indigenous culture of Tibet. In the 8th century, the first ever international conference about Tibetan medicine was held at Samye Monastery in Tibet. Physicians from India, China, Persia, and other areas attended. Most historians believe that after the conference, Elder Yuthok Yonten Gonpo, an eminent Tibetan doctor, synthesized the best theories and medical practices into the Gyueshi, the fundamental text of Tibetan medicine. The first Tibetan medical college was established in Lhasa, Tibet, in 1696. In the early 1900s, the two major medical schools in Lhasa were the Chagpori Medical College and the Men-Tsee-Khang (Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute).

In 1961, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama re-established the Men-Tsee-Khang in Dharamsala, India. This medical college educates post-high-school students during a six-year intensive program to become a doctor of Tibetan medicine. After graduating, the new doctors work under the supervision of senior doctors. You can learn more about the history and practices of Tibetan medicine in a book published by the Men-Tsee-Khang listed in the “Where Can I Get More Information?” section (Fundamentals of Tibetan Medicine, 2009).