By Ashwani Kumar
| June 22nd 2011 10:20 AM | Print
Bhutanese Medical System: The Bhutanese medical system goes well beyond the notion of medicine in the narrow western sense. It forms a part of their culture and tradition, in which "Buddhism" is the prevailing influence. Health and spirituality are inseparable and together they reveal the true origin of any sickness. The art of healing is, therefore, a dimension of the sacred life style of Bhutanese people.
The system of medicine used in Bhutan is known as "Sowa Rigpa". Today, this medical system is practiced in many countries, but owing to its origin and development in ancient Tibet, it is, currently, known throughout the world as Tibetan Medicine.
It is believed that at the beginning of time, the art of healing was a prerogative of the Gods, and it was not until "Kashiraja Dewadas", an ancient Indian king, went to heaven to learn medicine from them, that it could be offered to man as a means to fight suffering. He taught his progeny the principles and the practice of healing, and this knowledge was spread and perpetuated as an oral tradition until Lord Buddha appeared and gave specific written teachings on medicine. These were recorded in Sanskrit and became part of early Buddhist sacred writings.
Bhutan, the kingdom of the Peaceful Dragon, used to be called Men Jong, which means the land of medicinal plants which, in fact, it has been because of the fertility of its valleys and the luxury of its forest flora. Above the Indian plains, the country gradually rises, stage after stage, hill after hill, from the luxurious jungle of the foothills of about 200m. above sea level to the solitude of snowcapped peaks culminating at more than 7500m. This variation in altitude, has made it possible for plants of extremely different climate and environments to grow in the same country. Tropical and subtropical forests are found in the south. Temperate and even Mediterranean plants flourish in the valleys, and very rare specimens grow up to 5000m.
Till date, more than 600 medicinal plants have been identified in Bhutan and at least 300 of these are commonly used by traditional practitioners in the country for preparing drugs in form of pills, tablets, powder and decoctions.