Traditional Health Consultation

Ayurveda, Traditional Tibetan Medicine (TTM), and Traditional Oriental Medicine (TOM)

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Theory
A Traditional Health Consultation is a unique opportunity to have your health examined from the in-depth perspective of the ancient medical systems of the East. During a Traditional Health Consultation, I draw upon my training in Ayurveda, Traditional Tibetan Medicine, and Traditional Oriental Medicine. Rather than viewing these three systems as separate streams, I see them as rivers flowing into a single ocean. The true essence of these traditions is not ultimately preserved in any text, but is intimately communicated in the context of a lineage, from Master to disciple. My impulse is not to synthesize these streams, but to truly honor what my teachers have taught me and thereby to honor the time-tested teachings of East Asian Medicine as a whole. My approach to medicine has been especially influenced by J.R. Worsley, Master Jane Yang, Dr. Phuntsog Wangmo, and Vaidya R.K. Mishra.

In the traditional systems of East Asian Medicine, health is universally described as a balance of the five elements within the human body. The five elements are simply a way of describing the dynamic and cyclical flow of natural life-energy (prana / qi).

  1. Wood
    The element of growth and expansion, of purpose and meaning, vision and faith. Wood is the the Spring Season, the Liver and Gallbladder, and the planet Jupiter.

  2. Fire
    The element of warmth and vitality, of relationship and nourishment. Fire is the Summer season, the Heart and Small Intestine, and the planets Sun and Mars.

  3. Earth
    The element of stability and regulation, of intelligence and discrimination. Earth is the Fall Season, the Spleen and Stomach, and the planet Mercury.

  4. Water
    The element of fluidity and change, of essence and substance. Water is the transition between seasons, the Kidneys and Bladder, and the planets Venus and Moon.

  5. Metal
    The element of fixity and strength, of quality and spirit. Metal is the Winter season, the Lungs and Large Intestine, and the planet Saturn.

In Ayurveda and Tibetan Medicine, the five elements are further condensed into the three doshas. The three doshas are made of the five elements, and are simply a way of describing the play of the five elements within the human body. The three doshas are the three fundamental forces governing the human physiology. Doshas maintain the health of the body (homeostasis), but when the innate intelligence of the body has been undermined, the doshas become the very cause of disease. The three doshas are:

  • Vata: the force of movement (Ether and Air Elements)

  • Pitta: the force of transformation (Fire Element)

  • Kapha: the force of preservation (Water and Earth Elements)

The five elements illustrate the dynamic energetic cycles of the natural world, in the environment, and thereby in the human body. Just as nature unfolds through a cycle of seasons, so the human body has its seasons. In Tibetan Medicine, the human body is viewed as a tree. This is not simply a poetic image but a profound understanding of how nature is reflected in the human body. The five elements are not static principles, but a cyclical process. Therefore, an imbalance in one of the elements will result in an imbalance of all of the elements that flow from it.

The five elements are an archetypal and multivalent paradigm, and must therefore be understood at physical, energetic, and psychological levels (or the body-mind-spirit). The purpose of a Traditional Consultation is to perceive the causative factor, the single element that is the root-cause of the imbalance. Using the five-element model of diagnosis, it becomes possible to see that a symptom is not necessarily a direct reflection of its cause. A person can show symptoms in the mode of any of the five elements, because the causative factor will disturb the health of the entire elemental cycle. Thus, the ascertaining of the causative factor is the purpose of a Traditional Consultation. The practitioner must also determine on which level (body, mind, or spirit) the causative factor is most prominent and to treat accordingly.

Practice
A Traditional Consultation consists of three parts: inquiry, observation, and palpation. The consultation begins with an interview (or inquiry) into your chief complaint, medical history, dietary and lifestyle patterns, and astrological birth chart among several other factors that allow me to understand the patient and the causative factor of illness. After the interview, I will conduct a physical examination (palpation), which is the palpation phase of traditional diagnosis, including:

  • Examination of structure and constitution

  • Intake of vital signs (height, weight, blood pressure, pulse rate)

  • Pulse Diagnosis

  • Tongue Diagnosis

  • Abdominal Exam

Observation is the phase of diagnosis which is present throughout the interview and the palpation diagnostics. Observation establishes diagnosis as a perceptual event, rather than an objectified mental process. Traditional Medicine is not about objectifying the patient and their disease, but about understanding who the patient is and what it means for that person to be healthy. Observation makes use of all the senses to observe the patient’s color, sound (voice), odor, and emotion. These observations assist me in identifying the element that is the true causative factor.

Treatment is traditionally described in four therapeutic modes: diet, lifestyle, herbs, and external therapies. Dietary and lifestyle changes will be recommended, and an herbal formula may also be recommended. External therapies include include Medical Qigong Treatments, Ayurvedic Body Therapies, Massage, and Rolfing.  

During a Consultation, a rapport develops between the practitioner and patient. It is therefore the best opportunity for a treatment. I reserve the concluding 30 minutes of each Consultation to give a Medical Qigong Treatment. I may recommend regular Treatments, or I may recommend other External Therapies depending on the person and nature of the imbalance. I have made Medical Qigong Treatments a facet of the Consultation because I have found that it is insufficient to simply give recommendations. We must first be nourished before we can meet the demands of change and growth.

Length of Initial Consultation: 90-120 minutes.

Price: $220
Sliding scale available for those who qualify, please contact us to apply.

 
 
An uncomplicated way of looking at Tibetan Medicine is to see it as something that communicates with, rather than fights, disease. It makes peace with the disease. The sickness is there and you respect it. You understand it. After understanding it, you give the right medicine for the sickness, the medicine that puts everything in order. Our organs that are sick, and the system that is sick, are not our enemies. The body is out of harmony with itself, that is all. And that is why we experience illness. The purpose of medicine is to communicate respectfully with the body and to do the right thing to balance it.
— The Twelfth Tai Situpa
A physician who fails to enter the body of a patient with the lamp of knowledge and understanding can never treat diseases. He should first study all the factors—including environment—which influence a patient’s disease, and then prescribe treatment. It is more important to prevent the occurrence of disease than to seek a cure.
— Caraka Samhita