Tibetan Medical System is the world's oldest known medical traditions. Tibetan medicine begins with the premise that we are made up of five essential elements: earth, water, fire, wind, and space.
The principle applied in Tibetan Medicine is that the physical appearance through the luster and glory of the skin reflects the medical condition of the person.
The underlying philosophy applied in Tibetan Medicine is achieved as a remedy for the treatment of physical and mental disorders through a balanced diet, proper lifestyle, massage, herbal medicine from the Himalaya, and the need to keep a positive mental attitude.
The main objective of Tibetan Medicine is to free the body from suffering and prevent from getting diseases. It has for the past thousands of years accumulated substantial recipes. Based on those recipes and integrated with the modern scientific method, Tibetan medicine besides improving the health of the outer body also helps support the function of the inner systems and energies. Providing thereby, smooth and healthy skin, curing prolong sickness, relief of mental and physical stress, improve the immune system, eliminate the appearance of wrinkles and graying of hair, healing of the vital organs and strengthening of the nervous system of the body.
These Medicines are produced from the herbs which are grown in Tibet and Himalayan regions. Such herbs are collected with the utmost care and respect for the surrounding environment.
The applications of some of these herbs include the following:
- Medicago lupulina helps to revive the dry and rough skin and improves the skin texture and luster
- Asparagus racemosus strengthens the body by improving the hemoglobin
- Hibiscus moschatus has the potencies of anti-wrinkle & anti-aging and also act as an antiseptic.
- Areca catchu helps to treat a wound, itch, and burns.
- Curcuma longa helps to treat inflammation.
- Irs sp. improves the blood circulation
- Butea monosperma has an anti-microbial property and purifies the blood.
- Myristica fragans strengthening the body and retain mental stability.
- Carum carvi helps to combat the nerves & muscle constriction
- Zingeber officinalis help to promote the blood circulation and relieve muscle restrains
- Prunus aamemica purify the blood & help to grow healthy hair.
- Terminalia chebula alleviates all kinds of disorders like blood circulation, Lung disorder, clear up the nervous route, strengthen the muscle and make the skin supple.
- Elettaria cardamomum helps improve the kidney
- Carthamus tinctorius helps strengthen the body,& restore hemoglobin level.
- Rosa combats the bile and lung disorders
- Cinnamomum zeylinicum helps the digestive system
- Amomum sabulatum improves gastro-pancreatic disorders,
Tibetan massage is primarily concerned with bringing the wind element into balance. A Tibetan massage practitioner achieves this using technology that is remarkably similar to many other Eastern and Western modalities, including:
This holistic approach to massage reflects the Tibetan medical system, which views the body as not just physical, but energetic and spiritual as well.
The manipulative techniques used in Tibetan massage are familiar to any massage therapist and include rubbing, kneading and stroking. In addition, deep circular motions are applied to acupressure points. The oil used in the massage treatment acts not only as a lubricant but is said to help hold the wind element in place and assist in smoothing it out. Medicinal mixtures, too, are used in traditional Tibetan massage.
Benefits of Tibetan Massage
Traditionally, Tibetan massage was used to treat a number of "wind" disturbances. Some of these include:
- Tension headaches
- Heart palpitations
- Menstrual disorders
- Sciatica and lumbar pain
Those who have experienced Tibetan massage for general therapeutic purposes or relaxation report a number of benefits for general health and wellbeing, including:
- Improved metabolism
- Better sleep
- Higher energy levels
- Improved appetite
- An elevated mood
Tibetan Medicine is a rich and complete tradition of medical science, dating back many centuries. It is based on ancient knowledge of the natural elements, from practices native to the Tibetan plateau. It later expanded to integrate knowledge from diverse medical traditions of cultures across Asia as well as the Middle East. This complete body of theory and practice is now known as Traditional Tibetan Medicine. With the global diaspora of Tibetan people and culture, Tibetan Medicine is now gaining recognition in many countries as a valuable and beautiful healing tradition.
The foundation of Tibetan Medicine theory is the five elements, including earth, water, fire, air, and space. In human physiology, these elements combine to form the three nyepa, including loong, tripa, and pekan. These three nyepa further divide into fifteen subcategories. The elemental nyepa govern the form and function of our bodily systems. When imbalanced, the nyepa express pathological signs and symptoms of a disease. Therefore, in simple terms, the goal of Tibetan Medicine is to maintain health and treat disease by balancing the three elemental nyepa.
The fantastic tradition of massage and gentle therapies, known as Kunye.
What is Kunye?
Kunye is the ancient form of massage therapy taught in Traditional Tibetan Medicine. It is an effective, dynamic healing art. Presented in the classical texts of Tibetan Medicine, Kunye has been transcribed and formally taught for many centuries.
The term Kunye comes from two Tibetan words: “ku” means oil, and “nye” means to perform massage. So fundamentally, Kunye means “applying massage with oil”. In this article, we will discuss the format of Tibetan Kunye Massage, what it includes, and some of its benefits.
The Three Stages of Kunye Massage
There are three basic stages to a traditional Kunye Massage. These are: “applying oil, massaging in, wiping off.”
First, oil is generously applied to the body. For best results, we use heavy, sweet-natured oils such as olive oil or even clarified butter. In fact, traditionally in the mountains of Tibet, clarified dri (female yak) butter is used and is believed to have fantastic therapeutic properties. We also use oils infused with various herbs. We choose which kind of oil to use based on each person’s individual constitution and symptoms, as well as factors such as the season, local environment and other conditions.
Next, a variety of massage strokes and techniques are employed. Extra attention is paid to the hands, feet, head, and the “special points” described in the classical texts of Tibetan Medicine. Kunye Massage generally starts slow and gentle, working up to more vigorous action and deeper work on key muscles and specific points. Kunye also employs techniques of assisted stretching and joint mobilization.
At the end of the session, the excess oil is wiped off. We can use a warm wet towel for this, however, the traditional way is to scrub the skin with dry chickpea flour. This opens the pores, absorbs excess oil leaving just the right amount in the skin. The result is hydrated, nourished skin and a radiant complexion.
Additional Gentle Therapies
In addition to oil massage, Kunye also utilizes a variety of gentle therapies. In this way, we can use additional techniques, tools, and topical herbal preparations to enhance the treatment. The additional therapies used in Kunye are mild and non-invasive, generally very relaxing and enjoyable. These gentle therapies, combined with massage, produce fantastic results. So Kunye includes a dynamic system of therapeutic techniques. A few of the more common therapies are described below.
Hot stones are used extensively in Kunye treatments. They are smooth, heavy and retain heat very well. This makes them ideal for use as heated compress or as manual massage tools. We often wrap one or several hot stones and place them over areas of pain such as the lower back or shoulders. The classical texts of Tibetan Medicine state that hot stones compress functions to immediately reduce pain, expel cold stagnation, stiffness and promote circulation. Hot stones are especially indicated for stubborn, chronic orthopedic pain.
Horme compress: heated herbs with oil
Another common therapy is called horme compress. The horme compress is small bundle of herbs (caraway and/or nutmeg), soaked in warm oil and applied to specific points. This very warm natured treatment is excellent for balancing the air element loong energy. As such, it is used for symptoms including anxiety, depression, insomnia, light-headedness, and agitation. Horme compress also helps sharpen the mind, benefits the heart and clears the senses. It is a very relaxing and effective therapy.
Cupping is the application of cup-shaped instruments to the soft tissue areas of the body, using reverse-pressure suction. Traditionally, Tibetan Medicine practitioners use beautiful copper cups with fire-induced suction. In modern practice, we often use simple glass cups with a suction gun mechanism, for the sake of expediency and convenience. This treatment is a little less gentle and can result in temporary discoloration or bruising at the local site. Cupping is great for reducing pain in the muscles and soft tissue caused by stagnated blood and inflammation. This is very helpful for pain and stiffness associated with over-worked muscles and tension-holding patterns.
Benefits of Kunye Massage
The classical texts of Tibetan Medicine list a variety of indications and benefits of Kunye Massage. Some of these traditional indications are described below.
Kunye lengthens the lifespan!
In Traditional Tibetan Medicine, it is purported that regular Kunye Massage promotes general health and long life. The effects of massage are holistic, benefitting all of our bodily systems and promoting homeostasis. By integrating Kunye massage into our routine of self-care, we can relax in the knowledge that we are supporting our health and promoting long-life. What better motivation for taking the time to regularly receive a great massage?
Kunye is great for old folks
The classical texts specify that Kunye massage is very beneficial for geriatric people. Older people commonly suffer from a variety of complaints for which Kunye is indicated. This is because Kunye is warming and invigorating. It stimulates blood flow, loosens stiff joints, promotes sleep, benefits digestion and facilitates the memory.
Benefits dry skin and “rough body”
Kunye is great for your skin. Massage with oil hydrates and nourishes the skin and muscles. It stimulates the flow of blood and vital fluids. Also, the use of herbal compresses and medicinal baths can be very effective for some specific skin conditions. In Tibetan Medicine when we say “rough body”, this can also mean that the body is depleted and could use some nourishment. Kunye invigorates our strength by stimulating the metabolic heat. Our metabolic heat enables us to properly transform food into healthy bodily substances like the blood, oils, and fluids that keep our skin healthy and vibrant. Our strong metabolism also transforms and expels waste products so they do not stagnate and impact our health. That is why healthy digestion and strong metabolic heat are essential for healthy skin and a clear complexion.
Helps relieve constipation
Kunye is beneficial for digestive health, especially for cases of chronic constipation. It promotes the clearing of metabolic stagnation and invigorates our digestion system. Certain special points and techniques in Kunye are very effective for stimulating peristalsis in our large intestine. These effects relate to the function of our descending loong, the energy that moves waste products downwards for elimination. That is why for constipation and other digestive complaints, Kunye is traditionally indicated.
Tibetan medicine teaches that the three primary energies interact to form seven general constitutions. Each constitution is named by the dominant energy or energies:
Loong: Loong dominates tripa and baekan.
Tripa: Tripa dominates loong and baekan.
Indicated for exhaustion of blood & essence
Chronic fatigue and other long-term health challenges over time can tax our bodily resources. This can deplete the strength of our blood, fluids, and vital essence. The deeply restorative effects of Kunye massage mitigate the harmful toll of stress and fatigue. This is why the classic texts of Tibetan Medicine suggest using Kunye to restore from any condition of fatigue, exhaustion and for recovery from chronic disease.
Soothes anxiety & mental exhaustion
Kunye is very effective for calming anxiety, mental and emotional stress. When we are under stress we experience a rapid increase and agitation of our air element loong energy. We feel all the diverse symptoms of stress and anxiety as our mind drives our nerves into sympathetic mode. In Kunye we work with specific points on the body to balance the loong, calm the mind and nervous system. During stressful times it is ideal to get extra rest and nourishment. Of course, this is not always convenient or possible during stressful situations. So taking a little time to receive Kunye is an efficient way to restore and balance your energy in a short time.
Helps relieve insomnia
Our sleep patterns are very much related with the air element loong energy. The loong regulates every aspect of our mental and emotional health. When our thoughts are racing and our minds are over-taxed, the loong energy becomes very agitated. We experience many symptoms from overactive loong, including insomnia. Kunye works directly to calm the loong, and switch our mind out of those stress patterns of over thinking and anxiety. So Kunye massage and gentle therapies are helpful for improving your sleep health.
Clears the sense organs
Applying Kunye, especially to the head and face, can help sharpen and clarify our senses. This method is effective for relieving nasal and sinus congestion. It promotes the healthy flow of blood and fluids to our eyes. It can relieve tensions and stagnation that dull our senses and cloud our minds. Kunye can benefit our digestion and harmonize the flow of loong to our upper body, head and sense organs.
Especially indicated for all disorders of long energy
Balancing our air element loong energy is essential for health and happiness. In Tibetan Medicine, we say that the loong is like a sensitive, crying baby who always needs to be comforted with a little extra care. With its warm and nourishing effects, Kunye functions like a blanket and a bottle to calm the agitation of our air element loong energy. By relieving stress and calming internal agitation, we can get back to laughing, playing and sleeping like a baby.
Maintaining the health and balance of our body, energy, and mind is a full-time job. Tibetan Medicine teaches us to always pay attention to our diet and lifestyle to avoid developing long-term problems and optimize our health. We should invest in our “self-care”, listen to our bodies, and develop healthy habits to help ourselves out whenever possible. Kunye massage is an effective tool to support our health and promote long life. Nobody enjoys the effects of stress and fatigue. The good news is, with the rejuvenating, restorative effects of Kunye, we can promote our health and balance in an enjoyable and rewarding way.