Bhutan | Thimphu

Bhutan Institute of Traditional Medicine

Embrace Bhutan Cultural Tour

Thimphu | Bhutan

08 Nov 2019 | Fri

Day 02 of 13

  • Exploring Capital City Thimphu Bhutan
  • Bamboo Supported Construction Site Thimphu
  • National Memorial Chorten Thimphu
  • Bhutan Institute of Traditional Medicine
  • Bhutan Gross National Happiness (GNH) Centre
  • Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan
  • Lunch in Thimphu
  • Motithang Takin Preserve Thimphu
  • Tashichho Dzong Viewpoint Thimphu
  • Centenary Farmers Market Thimphu
  • Evening Lecture with Kuenzang Dechen

Bhutan Institute of Traditional Medicine

Our next stop in Thimphu was the Bhutan Institute of Traditional Medicine (also known as the Faculty of Traditional Medicine).

Bhutan Institute of Traditional Medicine, where the medicinal herbs abundant in the kingdom are compounded and dispensed. Established in 1978, this institute collects medicinal plants from remote corners of the Bhutanese Himalaya, and then distributes pills, tablets, ointments and medicinal teas to regional health-care units around the country. The small museum details some of the 300 herbs, minerals and animal parts that Bhutanese doctors have to choose from. Of particular interest is yartsa goenbub (cordyceps), the high-altitude cure-all ‘Himalayan Viagra’ that is actually a caterpillar that has been mummified by a fungus. The curious ‘worm-root’ sells for up to US$25,000 per kilogram in China.

Embrace Bhutan Travel

Interesting Facility, Training Center & Museum

When we arrived the facility was closed due to construction/remodeling. However our Bhutan tour guide Tashi found a way in so that we could view a special display inside. Here’s a link to the official website of the Faculty of Traditional Medicine

“The Institute of Traditional Medicine Services is based in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, located on a hilltop above the Traditional Arts Center and the National Library. The institute supplies traditional medicines and medical services, trains doctors, and conducts research on traditional medicinal plants to identify the ingredients and develop new products. The institute has a library dating back to around 1616, when Tibetan Buddhism was introduced to Bhutan. The books and recipes were collected from monasteries where scholars had preserved the medical lore.”

– from Wikipedia: Institute of Traditional Medicine Services (Bhutan)

Representation of Traditional Bhutanese Medicine

Traditional Bhutanese Medicine (gSo-ba Rig-pa)

“Traditional medicine in Bhutan is known as gSo-ba Rig-pa and is one of the oldest surviving medical traditions in the world. gSo-ba Rig-pa’s principles are based on the perception the human body is composed of three main elements:

rLung (‘Air’)

mKhris-pa (‘Bile’)

Bad-kan (‘Phlegm’)

“When these three elements are balanced in the body a person is said to be healthy. The pathophysiology is also different from other medical systems, and the close link to Buddhism is reflected in the spiritual dimensions and the perception that all suffering is caused by ignorance. The treatment of diseases includes behavioral modification, physiotherapy, herbal medicines, minor surgery and spiritual healing.”

“This makes the traditional Bhutanese medicine a unique and holistic health care system. The traditional medicine is an integrated and recognized part of the formal health care services in Bhutan under the auspices of the Ministry of Health.”

– Journal Article | Traditional Bhutanese medicine (gSo-BA Rig-PA): an integrated part of the formal health care services. Phurpa Wangchuk, Dorji Wangchuk, Jens Aagaard-Hansen PMID: 17539263

Tanadug Phodrang at Sorig Museum

Even though it was still under construction thanks to the help of our guide Tashi, we were able to gain access to see the impressive “Tanadug Phodrang” display.

Tanadug Phodrang Display in Sorig Museum

“The large colorful display is known as “Tanadug Phodrang” or the Celestial City of Medicine. In the Buddhist traditional texts, the Tanadugphodrang is the paradise in which the Buddha identified different medicinal plants in the four directions (east, west, north, and south). And also where Lord Buddha delivered his teachings on traditional medicine.”

“The establishment (at the Institute of Traditional Medicine) of a physical Tanadugphodrang will enable students to practically learn and understand the origin and diversity of traditional medicine. It is the first of its kind in the country.”

“Tanadugphodrang also known as the City of Medicine has Sangay Menlha or the Medicine Buddha in the center. Its surroundings are divided into four directions with different medicinal herbs and rocks, which are believed to be filled with fragrances and minerals having medicinal values.”

– Guide Tashi Topden Embrace Bhutan Travel

– Also can find more information about Sorig Museum from the official website of the Faculty of Traditional Medicine Sorig Museum

Bhutan Institute of Traditional Medicine

Map – Bhutan Institute of Traditional Medicine

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