International Conference on Tibetan Medicine, Dharamsala

In celebration with the Centennial Anniversary, Research and Development (R & D) Dept., Men-Tsee-Khang, organized an International Conference on Tibetan Medicine with the theme, ‘unlocking the truth of Tibetan medicine’, at TMAI College hall in Dharamsala on 24th March 2016.

The Inaugural function was attended by the Chief Guest, Honorable Health Minister of Central Tibetan Administration, Dr. Tsering Wangchuk; Mr. Tsering Tashi Phuri, Director of Men-Tsee-Khang; Dr. Tsewang Tamdin, CMO and Chairman of the High level Medical & Astro. Council; speakers; guests and the participants. After the arrival of the Chief Guest at 9.30 am, Dr. Tenzin Yeshi of R&D Dept. started the Inaugural function by requesting the Chief Guest to light the butter lamp followed by observation of a minute’s silence to pay homage to the Tibetan Freedom Martyrs. Successively, the gatherings chanted the Yuthok Prayer, while tea and sweet rice were served.

The director of Men-Tsee-Khang, Mr Tashi Tsering Phuri in his welcome speech stressed that, "since the various research papers are of due importance, the R&D Dept. should organize such international conference annually or twice a year in near future. His Holiness had earlier remarked that Tibetan medicine is considered to be of huge benefit, and so should act to unlock the truth of Tibetan medicine as much as possible. Therefore, the Conference primarily aims to unlock the truth of Tibetan Medicine.”

Dr. Rigzin Sangmo, head of the R&D Dept., gave an introductory speech of the Conference with the brief history about the evolvement of Tibetan Medicine and its current status in the global health care system. She addressed on the departmental research works and shared evidences of finding positive outcome of Tibetan medicine in the treatment of chronic disorder such as Diabetes, Cancer, Hepatitis B, Hypertension, and Gastrointestinal disorder. Expressing concern over the challenges that lie ahead, she emphasized the need for a more rigorous and sustainable research works in Tibetan Medicine. Of note to the Conference, she recalled a successful National Conference organized by R&D Dept. in 1996 to explore the research ground for the study of Tibetan medicine in the treatment of Cancer and Diabetes.

And she further said that “today in parallel with the Centenary Celebration, the department organized this International Conference titled as ‘Unlocking the truth of Tibetan Medicine’ with an aim to exhibit and encourage more research developments in Tibetan Medicine, bring together global research professional in one forum to discuss and share their knowledge, and ultimately to generate collaborative research work in the future. While in the preparation, the committee had received 16 papers, out of which five articles most relevant to the conference were selected. The Conference witnessed a total number of 215 participants from 10 different countries”

The Chief Guest of the Inaugural function, Health Kalon, Dr. Tsering Wangchuk, noted that "the Tibetan Medicine and Men-Tsee-Khang has been continuously working hard to serve and uplift the health of Tibetans at large. Although, Allopathic clinic run by CTA and Tibetan Medicine clinic by Men-Tsee-Khang established in each Tibetan Settlement are managed independently without integration with each other, the patients themselves have integrated and sought the health benefits from both the system". Appreciating Men-Tsee-Khang’s excellent service in preventing and treating diseases through Sowa Rigpa, he acknowledged that the service has unquestionably contributed immensely in benefitting the general public and lessening the burden of the Dept. of Health as well. Moreover, he shared that his Health Department has vision for integration of both system in every settlements, such as to organize a workshop on investigative or diagnostic method of western medicine for the practicing doctors of Tibetan Medicine, so that Tibetan medical physician can easily provide support to prevent, control and overcome the outbreak of infectious communicable diseases and other unforeseen medical emergencies in our community.

Afterwards, the authors of the selected paper for the International Conference on Tibetan Medicine were called upon to present their five minutes abstract.

The first speaker of the conference, Dr. Sarah Sallon from Hadassah Natural Medical Research Center, spoke on the topic, ‘Is Mercury in Tibetan Medicine toxic?: Clinical, neurocognitive and biochemical results of a cross sectional study’. She explained that this collaborative project with Men Tsee Khang has been successful in studying the Mercury or Tsothel in Tibetan medicine as a non toxic or safe in nature through scientific research. She however reasoned that it could be because that Tsothel itself is an amalgam compound made up with Mercury, Sulphur and various other elements. Similarly, she hopes that Tsothel seems to be also highly effective compound for neuro-cognitive disorders like Alzheimer. 

The second speaker, Dr. Cecile Vennos, head of the scientific affairs of Padma Inc explained about her article titled ‘From Medical tradition to Traditional Medicine: A Tibetan formula in the European framework’. She noted that the traditional Tibetan Medicine not only lack legal recognition in European Union but is under strict vigilance from the regulatory governing body; in spite of that, Tibetan medicine however have gained high demand and much respect from the European people. She emphasized that no matter whatever product is launched in European market, the product needs to meet the industrial production guidelines of GMP, should have the proof of efficacy through research and should be within the national regulatory framework.

She suggested that in the end whatever form the Tibetan herbal medicines are marketed in Europe, Tibetan medicine product should be first legally registered either as a medicine for treating illness or as food supplement for health.  She concluded that although there has been little success so far but more needs to be done to bring this Tibetan medicine to large number of people around the world. 

Our third speaker, Mr. Dziugas Meskelevicius of Vilnius University, Lithuania spoke on topic, ‘Traditional Tibetan medicine as a potential source of agents for the treatment of Glioblastoma multiforme: A controlled, cell culture based pilot study’, a scientific study done in collaboration with Men Tsee Khang. He concluded that “the Two of the Tibetan Medicines produced by Pharmaceutical Dept. of Men-Tsee-Khang has effectively shown to be potent in the treatment of brain tumor. As the cell culture was of the animal, it could meant having little variance with the human body. However, if the Tibetan medicine doesn't kill cancer cell directly, yet it definitely seems to have the potential to boost the immune system or to increase the immune cells that indirectly fights the cancer cells to death.
Dr. Namgyal Qusar, our fourth speaker presented his abstract on the title ‘Weight reduction in patients with Coronary Artery Disease: Comparison of traditional Tibetan Medicine and Western diet’. Dr. Qusar explained that traditional Tibetan medicine diet had shown not only more effective than the western diet in weight reduction but also lowered total cholesterol levels, LDL cholesterol, fibrinogen and CRP more effectively.

The last speaker of the abstract presenter in the morning Inaugural function was Dr. Marie T Nicolas from France, who is a researcher as well as an educationist. She shared her concern about the common problems of making a link between the different fields of knowledge while studying and teaching modern scientific education in developed countries, and underlined about the non existence of such kind of problems in Traditional Tibetan Medicine even though the study of Tibetan Medicine is a vast and deep. She opined that it could be because of the unique method of teaching and studying "the allegorical tree" in Tibetan medicine which helps student easily understand the concepts and theories, and are firmly entrenched in their mind.

After that, on behalf of the organizing committee, Dr. Tenzin Lhundup of R&D Dept. thanked the speakers for their presence, expressing their thoughts and findings in this inaugural event; guests; and enthusiastic participants of the conference. The inaugural function concluded with the chanting of prayer for the prosperity of Tibetan Medicine and Astro-science and a brief photo session took place thereafter to capture the precious moment.

The afternoon session started at 1 p.m. with 30 minutes presentation by the speakers and discussion session.   Mrs. Tsechu Lhamo of R&D Dept. welcomed the gatherings and introduced the first chairperson of the Conference, Dr. Tsewang Tamdin, Chief Medical Officer and Chairman of the High level Medical and Astro. Council of Men-Tsee-Khang. The chairperson introduced the speakers, Dr. Sarah Sallon and Dr. Cecile Vennos, and the speakers proceeded with their presentations and overall 30 minutes discussion session.

Then the next chairperson, Dr. Lobsang Tsering, Epidemiologist consultant, Dept. of Health, Central Tibetan Administration, Dharamsala introduced Dr. Nicolas Marie T. to begin her detailed presentation succeeded by discussion session.

After 20 minutes refreshment break Dr. Tsetan Dorjee Sadutshang, Chief Medical Officer, Tibetan Delek Hospital, Dharmasala chaired the event by introducing the consecutive speakers Dr. Namgyal Qusar and Mr. Dziugas Meskelevicius to present their detailed study reports, which were later entertained with 30 minutes discussion session.

The Valedictory function started at 5.35 p.m. after the arrival of the Chief Guest, Dr. Prof. Madam B. Tsering, member of Tibetan Parliament in exile and the Director of Dalai Lama Institute of Higher Studies located in the outskirts of Bengaluru. The Chief Guest distributed the certificates and souvenirs with the traditional scarf to chairpersons, speakers and personal physicians of His Holiness, foreign participants, and ex-MTK participants.

In her simple yet effective speech, the Chief Guest shared her joy on seeing many of her former students taking responsibilities in various sector of our Tibetan society. She much lauded all the speakers for their amazing presentations backed by scientific evidences to prove the effectiveness of Tibetan Medicine. She also spoke on her personal experiences with the treatment of Tibetan Medicine in general and how good quality of life Tibetan medicine had offered in some of her known cancer patients in particular.

The conference concluded with votes of thanks by Dr. Sonam Wangmo, R&D Dept. followed by the chanting of melodious prayer for prosperity of Men-Tsee-Khang.