Traditional Medicine of Ladakh

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Posted On : 27-01-2018 00:59

RADITIONAL AMCHI MEDICINE: Tibetan medicine also known as Sowa Rigpa is an ancient synthesis of the art of healing, drawing on the knowledge of medical systems existing in a wide region of Southeast and Central Asia. Through the process of this synthesis, Tibetan medicine was established during the 7th to the 12th centuries A.D. The fundamental theoretical concepts are based primarily on the Indian Buddhist system of medicine. It also has similarities with Ayurvedic medicine in India. The Buddha himself developed this system of medicine 2500 years ago. Tibetan cultural notions and the Buddhist belief system underline the socio-ecology of Ladakh.

Ladakh is one of the few remaining Himalayan area where the Tibetan system of medicine remains undisturbed for centuries. This indigenous health care system plays a major part in the health care of Ladakhi communities. Tibetan medicine known in Ladakh as 'Amchi' medicine has usually been passed down from generations within the village. New 'Amchis' have to take their passing out examination orally in front of the whole village. Thereby they are examined by a panel of respected senior Amchis from surrounding villages. In every village, there are usually one or sometimes two amchi families.

Most of the Amchis in Ladakh are the sixth generation of unbroken family lineages. They provide health care in the villages. No charge is made for treatment, but Amchis are helped by the villagers with farm work particularly with spring ploughing and autumn harvest. Occasionally, the villagers collect barley during the harvest and offer it to the Amchi family. The Amchi doctor holds a high position in Ladakhi society. They are often not only the medical doctors but also very strong community leaders. Often they hold the position of the 'Goba', the head of the village.
Many Amchis practise Buddhist astrology and astronomy. These subjects play an important role within Amchi medical practise as they do within Ladakhi society in general. In fact, there is very strong relationship between Buddhist astrology and Tibetan medicine. As well as its curative role, Tibetan medicine has played crucial part in preventive health care within the villages, emphasizing water and spring cleanliness, good diet and healthy lifestyle practices. In present day, Ladakhi Amchi practice still plays a crucial role within Ladakhi communities howver with the tide of modernizing this system has started to lose it charm and is on the verge of decline. So in order preserve this unique feature of sustainable Ladakhi society, we are attempting to promote it through Tourism.

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