Traditional Healing in Bhutan
I just got home from my week in Bhutan -- it takes two days to travel there, and I’m jet lagged beyond belief. The time I spent with native healers and allopathic doctors in Bhutan’s capitol city of Thimpu was truly rewarding, and I’m happy to report they share a respectful co-existence A robust system of cross-referral thrives in the small Himalayan kingdom, known for its Gross National Happiness economic and ecological policies.
March 27, 2009
Time to dive into my mission here: ethnographic study of Bhutan's health system, its translation of Gross National Happiness principles into health outcomes, and an exploration of how well medical pluralism thrives.First stop: traditional Asian medicine physician, Dr. Mindu Gorji, where I had my pulses read and my tongue analyzed. I did, however, skip out on the blood letting and swallowing of some rather questionable looking precious gem herbs rolled in dirt from a high-arsenic soil territory.I met with the Director of Public Health, Health Ministry—his dedication to equity, access, and quality was admirable. His responsibilities cover administration of a multilayered distribution of health programs from the National Hospital through grassroots Community Health Workers. Then I visited their national hospital and was amazed at the amount of work done with limited resources.
Medicines That Flower
It doesn’t matter how far and wide you travel, you will find local knowledge of the plants, herbs, animals, and spring waters that heal whatever ails people in that region.
Even more fascinating--and something that herbalists have long known--you will often find the antidote (healing balm) for a poisonous or irritating agent right next to the offender. Nature supplies its own first aid kit along with its insult. We do live on the plane of duality, after all...
Here am I outside of Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, looking at the region’s unique herbs that grow from 1500 to 5500 meters. The Swiss with their successful pharmaceutical industry has long had an eye for these unique plants and has helped Bhutan safeguard and catalogue indigenous herbs and other botanicals as part of a sustainable ecological mission, along with a strong interest in developing a robust trade in healing pharmaceuticals.