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External Therapies – Plant and Food Medicine

External Therapies

External Therapies

‘Moxibustion’ means to ‘produce fire’. It is an ancient heat therapy going back at least 3,000 years. This heating therapy uses the herb leontopodium (Tibetan Edelweiss), which is dried, crushed and formed into a cone that is burned over the surface of the skin to provide heat to specific body points. Your body has a network of natural energy passages or connections, and the process of moxibustion helps to circulate energy in the body. 

Specific body points are used for different conditions. It is one of the most important external therapies used for digestive problems, poor circulation and dull pain. There are twenty different types of moxibustion, each of which uses different materials. There are also various levels of heating (moxa), depending on your condition and reaction to the treatment.

Physical body points are pressed or heated by different types of external objects to help cure internal disorders.

Moxibustion is used to treat physical problems such as inflammatory conditions and digestive issues, but is also useful for stress and tension related conditions such as panic attacks, insomnia or anxiety.

There are also some conditions where we do not use Moxa therapy, so it’s important to have your condition diagnosed and prescribed by a qualified, experienced practitioner.

Acupuncture is considered a very powerful therapy in Traditional Tibetan Medicine – often referred to as the ‘most effective therapy of all’. Tibetan acupuncture uses very sophisticated materials, tools and techniques. It also identifies its own unique paths of the meridians – the energy paths. It is a gentle, but effective technique for treating a wide range of conditions, from hormonal imbalances and digestive disorders to chronic nerve pain, insomnia, asthma and sinus infections, to name a few.

lBa Massage is called a ‘psycho-physical’ treatment because it involves not just massage by a practitioner as it normally is in the west, but also a use of the mind. It involves visualising various forms and colours, and changing the correct sound according to different points on the Path of lBa. This is how depleted and lost La energy is replenished. In Traditional Tibetan Medicine, La energy is considered to be one of the most subtle and fine frequencies on the spectrum of lunar energy. It runs right through our bodies, and gives us strength, stability and clarity of mind.

Ku Nye Massage is one of the most famous Traditional Tibetan Medicine treatments. It is especially useful in preventing and treating lung (wind energy) disorders, and can be used for almost everyone. There are three steps involved in Ku Nye Massage:

  • ‘Ky’, preliminary treatment such as oil application, joint movement, warming up, etc.
  • ‘Nye’, the actual massage including different methods, instruments, treatment of specific locations, etc.
  • ‘Chi’, after-treatment such as removing the oil with powder, bath or shower.

Traditional Tibetan Medicine has practised water therapy for over a thousand years. Water therapy can typically be delivered through steam, compress or in the bath. For herbal bath therapy, a careful selection of herbs is boiled for at least 20 minutes, then the resulting decoction is mixed into the bath water. The patient soaks in the bath for at least half an hour. Herbal bath therapy is beneficial for a range of stress-related conditions, limb stiffness, swelling and varicose veins, as well as smoothing rough skin and helping alleviate menstrual pain.

Traditional Tibetan Medicine uses hot and cold compresses to treat a range of conditions. Treatment with compresses belongs to the group of Lum, or bath, therapy.

Hot compresses with salt, stones or herbs are particularly useful for ‘bad-kan’ disorders that can affect aspects of digestion, joint health and mental stability. Cold compresses are used for hot natured diseases. Compress therapy is never used for intoxications, infectious diseases, anaemia, etc.

This is the name given to Mongolian Moxibustion. It uses certain substances and oils to apply heat. Small cloth bags filled with aromatic herbs and soaked in warm oil can be placed on various areas of the body.

This is very gentle and soothing, and is often combined with massage. It is beneficial for boosting circulation, creating deep muscle relaxation, stimulating digestion, and helping to create a general sense of vitality. 

Bloodletting is an invasive therapy as well as a purgative treatment for blood disorders. It is used for treatment of deep mkhris pa (conditions related to the gall bladder, bile, jaundice, etc.) 

People usually think of bloodletting as removing a large amount of blood from the body, but it mostly requires just a few drops for a good bloodletting session. There are specific standard points of the body used, depending on the location of the disorder or disease in the body.

is also called ‘steam therapy’, and it belongs to the group of bath therapies. Many different cultures use variations of sweating therapy. It is based on the principle of releasing heat and toxins by causing the body, or certain parts of the body, to sweat. In Tibetan medicine, this external therapy is only used a treatment of superficial mkhris pa.

This therapy consists of smelling the aroma of medicinal substances, which are burning on embers. By allowing the smoke to reach the patient’s body or by letting the patient inhale the smoke of different mixtures of plants and minerals this therapy may prevent disorders or rebalance imbalances of the nye pa.

The effect of cupping therapy removes excess of the nye pa accumulated in the body. A little piece of cotton is lit up and place into a cup, traditionally made of copper. By attaching the cup on the affected body part the partial vacuum will suck out waste wind, bile, or phlegm.

Yukchö Stick Therapy is one of the treatment methods discovered through the combined medicine and spiritual practice as a terma – a spiritual treasure or knowledge revelation – and added to the external therapies of TTM. Different ways of tapping or massaging would traditionally help the spiritual practitioner during their retreat. Originally secret the benefits of this method are now available to the medical practitioner as self or as patient treatment.


The right plants and foods for your body, life stage or disorder are the primary source of ‘medicine’.

Herbs and Spices as Medicine

Herbs and supplements should be tailored to your specific needs and should be as close as possible to their original state.

Traditional Tibetan Medicine

Offers a rich range of therapies tested and proven over thousands of years. It uses nutrition, medicines, massage, moxa and other unique external therapies as well as lifestyle principles for overall health.

Plant and Food Medicine

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