As with any medical system, understanding physiology (the organs, systems and substances of the body) is essential to Tibetan medicine. However, the underlying Three Principles of Function that create and maintain those structures and functions are of primary importance.
THEORY OF THE FIVE ELEMENTS
(Tib. Jungwa Nga; བྱུང་བ་ལྔ)
The ‘physics’ that describe qualities of the primary physical principles occurring in nature. These principles are named for their most identifiable physical manifestations: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Space. The characteristics, of all matter, energy and principles existing in the natural world, EG: the function of our body and mind – result from the qualities of these elements individually or in combination.
THE THREE PRINCIPLES OF FUNCTION OF BODY AND MIND
(Tib. Nyepa sum; ཉེས་པ་གསུམ)
As with any medical system, understanding the organs systems and substances of the body is essential in Tibetan medicine. However, the underlying three principles of function which create and maintain those functions are of primary importance. Tibetan medicine defines those Principles of Function in this manner:
17th century illustration depicting the 5 distinct subcategories of rLüng
17th century illustration depicting the 5 distinct subcategories of mKhrispa
3) Bädkën (Pron. Peh ken; Tib. བད་ཀན ; aka: Phlegm) – Comprised of the Earth and Water elements. Provides fundamental cooling for the body and is the basis for many physiological functions, EG: creating the physical principle whereby energy can be utilized to produce function, provides stability to the body and mind, provides our body’s lubrication, breaks down food at the initial stages of digestion. Developmentally, the mind expressed as ignorance or incomprehension is manifested as Bäkän.