Tibetans lived in direct contact with the natural environment. They understood through experience and study that natural forces in the environment directly correlate with and influence the functioning of the human being.
All of the material which makes up our universe is based on the qualities of 5 basic elements which are described in the ancient texts of Tibetan medicine. In the theory of the five elements we see an effort to define the qualities of the basic forces which exist in nature.
Tibetan doctors begin their training by studying the four tantras, ancient texts that are the root of the discipline. The tantras speak of health as a state of balance between three systems governing body and mind. The wind system deals with circulation, of blood, nerve impulses, even of thoughts in the mind.
The system of heat deals with metabolism, liver, and digestion. And the system of cold concerns itself with the structure and stability of the body. When these systems become imbalanced, illness results. Doctors study the tantras for four years, and after passing written and oral examinations spend another three years studying under a senior physician before they become eligible to practice medicine.
Tibetan Medicine is a science, art and philosophy that provides a holistic approach to health care.
It is a science because its principles are enumerated in a systematic and logical framework based on an understanding of the body and its relationship to the environment.
It is an art because it uses diagnostic techniques based on the creativity, insight, subtlety and compassion of the medical practitioner. And it is a philosophy because it embraces the key Buddhist principles of altruism, karma and ethics.