A text on Tibetan medicine says: "Always remember the two principal causes of disease: unhealthy food and unhealthy lifestyle." In 2010, India officially recognised Tibetan medicine as a "science of healing" and enshrined it within the nation's healthcare system, paving the way for future research and investment into the spiritual discipline.

Men-Tsee-Khang, also known as the Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute, was founded in 1916 and was formally named the Tibet Autonomous Region Hospital of Traditional Tibetan Medicine in 1980. About 1,200 years ago, the people of Tibet developed a comprehensive medical system that, much like Ayurveda, addressed both mind and body through medicines made from plants and minerals. Practitioners of Tibetan medicine are expected to have intelligence, compassion, commitment, dexterity, diligence and morality.

Humankind needs a healthy mind and a healthy body, and the Tibetans are contributing to that need. Researchers and physicians in the medical fraternity have started to realise the high rate of efficacy of Tibetan medicine in treating many chronic diseases.

The Tibetan system has almost no side-effects. Almost always, the necessary antidotes are built into the treatment, and the success rates seem to be a lot better, particularly with the average middle and lower middle classes, because this is the only affordable system available to them. Diagnosis is by checking the pulse, urine, colour of the tongue, the sclera of the eye, and sensitivity of body pressure points. There is a great amount of emphasis on meditation, mental health and happiness.

Treatment includes herbal preparations, refined metals and stones, dietary changes, spiritual advice, lifestyle changes, meditation, breathing exercises and yoga.

The Tibetan doctor holds the wrist firmly, closes his eyes and "reads" the pulse. Sometimes it's both the wrists. He quizzes the patient about his lifestyle, food habits and body functions.

Their diagnosis is amazingly accurate because they tell everything to the patient in a positive way. No doubt, Tibetan pills work slowly but synergistically.

Tibetan medicine is known to have worked well in chronic illnesses such as diabetes, asthma and arthritis and also diseases like hepatitis, thalassemia, and certain types of cancer. Tibetan medicine has its roots in the region's monasteries, and, to this day, many of the renowned doctors are high-ranking monks. Sometimes one pill has as many ingredients in it - many neuter any uncomfortable side-effect.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 24, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.