Preservation and Development of Tibetan Medicine in the Modern Era: Research
Paradigms and Methodological Discussions
Conference IATS (International Association for Tibetan Studies):
The 13th Seminar: Ulaanbaatar 2013
Panel organizer: Mingji Cuomu Email: [email protected];
[email protected]://
Research into many traditional medical systems faces challenges in terms of balancing the need for
preservation of ancient traditions whilst observing new regulation requirements, especially for clinical
research and medicine production. Thus, careful consideration is needed for developing research
methodologies themselves that allow for a proper translation of medical culture as well as the
development of proper measurements of both theoretical assumptions and clinical efficacy. This
would progress to be made from a most sound foundation, and on the basis of the proper use of
traditional knowledge.
To explore and establish such methodologies, there is a need for a systematic review in the existing
traditional research methods, in order to find rules within the traditional medical system itself before
adopting any methodology from modern medical systems. This would help to develop a standard
within the traditional medicine itself as a tool to evaluate whatever the study is carrying out. In
addition, it is vital to analyze the methodologies used either in western medical science and social
science to see how these methods can be applied in the best possible way to evaluate theoretical
assumption or clinical efficacy of Tibetan medicine. Creating and using rules that emerge from a
precise review of the theory of Tibetan medicine can serve such a purpose; a careful and selective
adoption of western scientific methodology would help to develop better standards for Tibetan
medical research practice and also to fulfill modern regulation requirements. Explicit examples can be
given for the former. For example, we can examine under what philosophical ideas and principles the
overall conceptual framework of Tibetan medicine has taken the shape. What are the best ways to
explain those key terminologies such as three dynamics (Tib. nyes pa) and the power of the metabolic
system (Tib. me drod) These concepts not only provide a precise interpretation on the basis of
traditional medical notions, but also are comprehensible by wider audiences. Moreover, Tibetan
medicine has formed a holistic understanding on the basis of the philosophy of the middle way (Tib.
dau ma); this understanding shows the linkage between different health determinants in a dynamic
relationship through interactions between cause and condition (Cuomu 2010). This, in turn, makes
space for exchange and collaboration between different disciplines which can contribute either to the
development of new subjects such as Tibetan preventive medicine and public health or to the
provision of new inspirations in various western scientific fields.
This panel intends to work jointly towards developing standard research models for Tibetan medicine
not only through discussing methodology itself but also by focusing on a few specific subjects to reflect
such methodology through real studies. The topics that we intend to discuss are as follows:
How Tibetan medical research should be conducted in a manner that is suitable for both
Tibetan medical theory as well as modern regulation requirements.
Textual research conducted purely according to the theory of Tibetan medicine to reveal some
of the difficult points (e.g. some theoretical points in the Four Tantras are not fully interpreted
in the commentaries); within this, research into the history of Tibetan medicine and Tibetan
medical education is also areas of interest.
Preservation and Development of Tibetan Medicine in the Modern Era: Research
Paradigms and Methodological Discussions
Personal special clinical expertise in treating chronic health problems.
Interdisciplinary research, with a focus on the research between Tibetan medicine and medical
and cultural anthropology as well as public health

b) Preservation and development of Tibetan medicine in the