FIRST YEAR -Course Outline

Course Overview and
Introduction to Traditional Tibetan Medicine (TTM)

  • The Objectives of TTM
  • TTM as a holistic system
  • The benefits of TTM
  • TTM as a living ancient knowledge: a natural and holistic medical science

The Four Tantras (Tib. rGyud bZhi)

  • Root Tantra  (Tib. rTsa rGyud) -  The root of TTM; Eight branches
  • Explanatory Tantra  (Tib.  bShad rGyud) - Basic studies; Eleven principles
  • Oral Instruction Tantra  (Tib. Man Ngag rGyud) - Pathology and treatment; Fifteen divisions
  • Final Action Tantra  (Tib. Phyi Ma rGyud) - Diagnosis and therapies, Four compilations

Root Tantra and its Three Basic Views – The Three Trees

  • The Tree of our General Condition "The Basis of Health and Disease"
  • The Tree of Diagnosis
  • The Tree of Treatment Methods

Brief Presentation of the 99 Medical Trees

Fundamental Principles:

5 Elements Theory and Cosmology  (Tib. ’Byung ba lNga)

  • 5 Elements (’Byung ba) – creation of the internal organs
  • 5 Energies (Khams) – the five external elements
  • Union of the 5 Elements and the 5 Energies

3 Humors Theory (Tib. Nyes Pa gSum)

  • Origin
  • Quality
  • Divisions
  • Functions

The Philosophical Basis of Tibetan Medicine

Dharma Philosophy

  • Theory of Interdependent Origination  (Tib. rTen ’Brel)
  • Middle path - Uma (Tib.  dBu ma)

The Origins of Tibetan Medicine

Natural Science

  • Knowledge acquired from nature spirits
  • Knowledge acquired from animal intelligence
  • Human observation and discovery

Bon Source.

  • Shamanic studies – the harmony between human, spirit and nature
  • Philosophical

TTM and its combination with Other Studies

  • Philosophy, Bon, Buddha dharma. (Tib. Bon, Ngang pa, Sang rGyas)
  • Astrology, the horoscope and constellations (Tib. Nag rTsis, dKar rTsis)
  • Geomancy (Tib. Sa dPyad)

The History of Tibetan Medicine

The First Tibetan Physician

Chebu Trishe (dPyad bu Khri shes ) - his study, research and works

The Influence of the sPu rGyal Dynasty (126 – 254 BC)

  • King Nyatri Tsanpo
  • Development of the ‘12 Studies of Bon’

The Doctor of the First Century

Dr. Lhabu Gokar – first surgeries; Wound healing formula (Tib. bChad ’Byor Nyi Shu)

King Lhatho Thori Nyantsa and his descendants (1054 - 10629 CE)

  • Physician Biga Gache and his sister Bilha Gazema
  • Dunggi Thorchog Chan
  • Five principle studies: Pulse reading, diet, herbal formulae, treatment of injuries, external therapies
  • The Royal physicians

8th century

Yuthok Yonten Gonpo The Elder and his outstanding Research

  • Father of TTM
  • rGyud bZhi and  the First TTM school

Great Tertons (gTer sTon) and their contribution to TTM

  • Terton Graba Ngonshe
  • Terton Lama
  • Nyang Nyimai Odser

12th century

Yuthok Yonten Gonpo The Younger and his students

  • Yuthok The Younger’s new edition of the rGyud bZhi
  • Yuthok Nyingthig Practice

Period of Sakya (1247-1354)

Trang Ti family and the Sakya Medicine school

Period of Phag Gru (1354-1618)

Two main schools:

  • Chang school (Tib. Byang pa)
  • Zur school

The 15th and 16th Centuries

Gaden Phodrang government and its support for TTM

  • The famous Chagpori
  • TTM development in the east (Amdo) and north (Kham) areas of Tibet

TTM in other parts of the world: Mongolia, Bhutan, Russia, India, Nepal.

The Ideal Conduct of the Tibetan Medicine Doctor


Summary of the Explanatory Tantra:


  • Causes for formation of the body
  • Development of the fetus
  • Signs of delivery

Metaphors of the Body

  • Exterior of the body
  • Internal organs

Physical Anatomy

  • Physical measurements; quantities of the bodily constituents
  • Anatomy of the channels
  • Anatomy of critical points
  • Tubular pathways

Anatomy of the Head

  • Different head shapes
  • The Brain
  • Bones of the head
  • Muscles of the head
  • The three channels of the head

Anatomy of the Trunk

  • Bones of the trunk
  • Muscles of the trunk
  • Five solid organs
  • Six hollow organs
  • Connecting channels
  • Grid study for internal organ location (Tib. Byang Khog Yul Thig)

Anatomy of the Limbs  (Tib. Yan Lag gi gNad Lugs)

  • Muscles of the limbs
  • Bones of the limbs
  • Lymph nodes
  • Critical channels
  • Critical Bones of the limbs
  • Critical tendons and ligaments
  • Summary of the critical points

Subtle Anatomy

  • Three channels
  • Five chakras


  • 3 Humors
  • 5 Elements – their locations and functions in the physical body
  • Metabolic heat

Divisions and Classifications of the Body

  • Typology
  • Function of the three doors – Body, Speech and Mind
  • Classifications of illness

Death and Dissolution of the Body

Signs of death:

  • Dream signs
  • Distant signs
  • Close signs
  • The process of death and dying
  • The bardo state
  • Summary


© IATTM 2007
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