Traditional Tibetans have fine-tuned very effective methods of diagnosing the inflicted. These include questioning the patient, observing their symptoms and behaviors, and touching the problematic area when appropriate. According to classical theory, diseases are divided into 2 groups—hot symptoms and cold symptoms.
Common prescriptions to cure the diseases include inducing vomiting, reducing the heat, purging, and dieresis (the release of large amounts of urine at a time). Other solutions are also considered, such as acupuncture, bloodletting, moxibustion (the burning of combustible material on the skin to reduce pain), medicated baths, and cold and hot compressions.
Among so many methods of treating diseases, the most popular of traditional Tibetan medicine today are medicated baths, which have also been the most typical and characteristic treatment in Tibetan medical care. These baths are usually made with soups of boiled herbs, such as savine leaves, cypress branches, Chinese ephedra, yellow cuckoo, and wormwood, supplemented with more than 30 kinds of rare medical materials such as muskiness and snowdrop.
Medicated baths help to rid phlegm, reduce sweats, increase and better blood circulation by removing blood stasis, strengthen the kidney, and, more traditionally, cast away the evil heat and exorcise superficial evils from the body.
Science has also shown that such baths can be used to treat diseases such as rheumatism, rheumatoid arthritis, all kinds of skin diseases (psoriasis, ichthyosys, circumscribed scleroderma, etc.), herniated discs, hyperosteogeny (excessive bone development), sciatica (irritation of the sciatic nerve), gout, gout after birth delivery, varix (abnormally dilated or swollen vein, artery, or lymph vessel) of lower limbs, hemiplegia (paralysis of one side of the body), and much more.
Although the treatment is called medicated baths, there are actually 3 primary application methods. Tibetan baths can be used as liquid, steam, and packing with medicine; among these, the liquid format is most common. During the process, the patient lets either part of or their entire body soak in the medicinal water. It is then that the effective constituents of the medicine can affect their skin through the corneum and epidermis layers. The water is absorbed by capillary tubes, so as to purify the blood, soften connective tissues, dispel periosteum edema, recover the function of joints, and improve immunity.
Each treatment course lasts about 7 to 10 days, depending on the affliction, during which patients are prescribed 1 or 2 baths per day (one in the morning and another in the afternoon). There are strict limits on the water temperature in order to maximize effectiveness which should range from 38℃ to 43℃ and the duration from 22 to 25 minutes each session.
After the bath, patients are asked to lie on hot kang for 3 to 5 minutes to sweat out any negative chemicals from the body. The very key to success of the bath treatments is the combination of the medicinal water and heat elements.