Tibetan Medicine Worth a Look

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I’m seeing a Tibetan herbal doctor for my multiple sclerosis (MS), and his treatment seems to be helping. I feel great. Tibetan medicine has been shown to significantly reduce fasting and post-meal glucose levels, and A1C levels, too. So you might want to check this out.

I hadn’t even known there was such a thing as Tibetan medicine. Recently, Crystal, an MS client of mine found out about this Tibetan practitioner in Sausalito, CA, who specializes in MS. My client asked if I thought she should see him. After researching a bit, I told her it couldn’t hurt, although she might be wasting her money.

Crystal got back to me after two treatments, saying she had improved. She thought I might want to try this doctor, named Lobsang Dhondup. So I made an appointment.

The bus ride from San Francisco to Sausalito was beautiful, although it took me two hours to get to Lobsang’s office. Beautiful views of the bay and Golden Gate Bridge. For the first appointment only, I had to bring in a urine specimen.

Tibetan doctors diagnose by examining the urine (by sight, smell, and taste) and feeling the pulses, sometimes for minutes on end. Their practice as doctors is to become more and more aware, what some call “seeing to the distant mountain.”

It’s truly amazing what Dr. Dhondup can tell from my pulses. He can tell when I last had a bowel movement, how I slept, and more systemic things, like how my immune system is operating and how much inflammation is going on in my body. One time he diagnosed a bladder infection with pulse reading alone.

I have tried Chinese medicine several times, and the acupuncturists and herbalists also read pulses. But they do not spend nearly as long and don’t see as much as the Tibetan doctors, as far as I can tell. I find it soothing and encouraging to be examined by Dr. Dhondup. I can’t say why; but perhaps the exam makes me feel understood at a deep level. Maybe that raises my oxytocin or serotonin levels or something.

The treatment consists of herbal pills taken once or twice a day. Most of the scrips have been for one dose a half-hour before breakfast and another for a half-hour after dinner. You chew the herbs up. They don’t taste good, but then you wash them down with a half-cup of water, so it’s no big deal. The herbal pills are combinations of several plants that grow in the Himalayas.

There are also diet instructions, but they’re not too strict. There’s nothing you can’t eat or have to eat; only recommendations to eat more or less of certain things. Generally, my prescribed diet is anti-inflammatory, very low in grains, dairy, nightshade plants, and fried foods. Yours would probably be different.

Since being on treatment, I’ve been calmer, happier, and sleeping better. More measurably, I’m able to stand longer, do more knee bends, and stand with bare feet, which I couldn’t do before. This is with treatments every 2–3 months, which cost $100–$150 each, depending on the herbs prescribed.

So I’m pleased with it. But before writing about it, I wanted to see if Tibetan medicine has any effect on diabetes. It definitely does.

A study published in Diabetes Care in 2001 looked at 200 newly diagnosed or untreated people with Type 2 diabetes in New Delhi and Bangalore, India. All started diet and exercise programs as recommended by the American Diabetes Association. Half the study participants (the treatment group) were examined by Tibetan doctors and given Tibetan herbal medicine.

After 24 weeks, fasting blood glucose had dropped almost four times as much (about 23 mg/dl) in the treatment group. The treatment group’s average postprandial glucose (after meals) had gone down roughly two times as much (also about 23 mg/dl) as the controls. Average A1C had gone down nearly three times as much in the treatment group.

These results were highly statistically significant. I think they are exciting, because the herbal treatments are not meant so much for short-term effect as for long-term healing. I believe that longer-term studies would find even more dramatic results.

If it interests you, I think you might explore Tibetan medicine. There’s a spiritual side to it that makes it very peaceful and gentle. An article by a Dr. Namgyal, on the Tibetmed web site states, “These herbs will work better if your mind is healthier and happier… The Tibetan medical system recognizes the mind and body relationship as an important factor for good health.” Dr. Dhondup told me almost the same thing, that in Tibetan medicine, health and happiness are closely connected. (“Through serotonin and dopamine,” he suggested.)

I don’t know if Tibetan herbs are more effective than Western medicines for diabetes, but the limited data we have so far would indicate they are quite helpful. The treatment experience itself may also be healing.

If you’re interested in finding a Tibetan practitioner, this list is a good place to start.

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