The origin of the Tibetan art of healing, more commonly called ‘Sowa rigpa’ is derived from, the practices, invention and development introduced by ancestors of Tibet through their intellectual wisdom. Based on that foundation, Youthog Yonten Gonpon, synthesized the then known ancient medical wisdom of the neighbouring countries, and later wrote a highly acclaimed Gyud Shi became the fundamental text for the Tibetan physician of the past and is equally regarded as the main basis for learning, research and practices by the Tibetan medicine practitioners of the present time.
Tibetan medicine is a specialized knowledge of medicine that help to maintain healthy state of human being,offers holistic treatment for the diseased state and is also a medium through which mental peace can be achieved. The knowledge on Tibetan materia medica as mentioned in Gyud-Shi and its practical application are indespensable for maintaining well-being of the human health. With regard to the medicinal substances, it have to be depend on its therapeutic effects, and in order to treat a disorder with medicinal substance, the proper identification of medicinal substances followed by the knowledge on the taste,potency, and secondary quality of individual medicinal substance must thoroughly be accomplished and eventually, the practical application should be followed accordingly.
Eminent scholars of upper,lower and middle regions of Tibet had made extensive research on the development numerous disorders arising out of the disturbed nature of the elemental constitution of the human body due to the variations in topographical region, the diversity in the growth of medicinal plants have been studied very carefully and the gradual accumulation of research experience have resulted in the invention and supplementation of many new remedies,thus making Tibetan medicines more comprehensive and authoritative.
Based on our past experiences through many years, greater number of commonly used medicinal plants mentioned in the medicinal text have same identification irrespective of their different habitats in the upper or lower part of Tibet. However, due to the variation in the topographical aspect of different regions, the non availability of the same medicinal plants as mentioned in the medical text have been substituted with other medicinal substances. Some of these substitutes were derived from the serious research made by eminent scholars, while some were derived from folk medicine from the past experience of the local people.
However, due to unprecedented upheaval in Tibet, its people and culture, the continuation of practice and learning of Tibetan medicine has faced a great stumbling block. Due to that, the knowledge of employing medicinal substitution has also declined resulting in the use of same name for different herbs or using medicinal substances with wrong identification. Such erronous practices has created confusion among Tibetan medicine practitioners,students, and modern scientist who execute research on Tibetan medicine. In order to figure out this problem, measures should be adopted for a common identification of medicinal plants based on the fundamental text and to introduce them to the future practitioners. This will create a positive atmosphere to the interested students, researchers and practitioners of Tibetan medicine, and in particular, to promote Tibetan medicine world wide by making it more accessible with great benefit against the physico-psychological problems, of the human society.
In this edition, the distinct features of the medicinal plants are portrayed as clearly as possible through painting. These paintings are mainly based on the original explanation of the medical treatise, fundamental text of Tibetan medicinal plants. It also encompasses some supplementary features of the medicinal plants, their habitat, collection time and additional work. In addition, the painting depicts the essence of analytical methods of the modern botany and the author’s personal experience from research work over a long period of time.