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Traditional medicine in Ladakh

Amchi medicine
Traditional medicine in Ladakh which is generally known as

Amchi medicine

in Ladakh is among the oldest survival well-documented medical traditions of the world. Derived from the Mongolian word " Am-rjay" it means better to all. With the living history of more than 2500 years it has been popularly practiced in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Darjeeling and now in Tibetan settlements all over India. It is usually known as Sowa-Rigpa, and has similarities with Ayurvedic medicine in India and it is the traditional medicine in Ladakh and in many parts of the Himalayas. The practitioners of this medicine are known as Amchis.
Amchi medicine which is

traditional medicine in Ladakh

is mainly based on Jung-wa-Lna (five elements) and Nespa-gsum (three humours) theories. Skillful use of Himalayan plants, animals and mineral products is among its particular features. Amchi system of medicine has been in vogue in this region for past many centuries.

Till early 1960s Amchi medicine used to be the barely health care facility for the people of these regions and even after the introduction of allopathic medicine with government support, it cannot replace Amchi system in many parts of these regions due to its strong-cultural Background. Amchis have not only social respect as the representative of Sangyes -smanla (Medicine Buddha) and their services for ill beings are priceless.

Beside their rich academic knowledge, Amchis also have superior practical skill handed over from one generation to another generation. Amchi medicine believes that every substance is mentioned in classical text containing thousands of formularies for a variety of ailments and surroundings plants of Himalayan cold desert areas play key role for these preparations. So, skillful uses of high altitude plants are only one of its kind specialities of this system.

Traditional medicine in Ladakh

Increasing demand for herbal products, ecological changes, unscientific and over exploitation etc. are causing great threat for the continued existence of many plants species.

Amchi system is even gaining fame among the rising number of foreigners, for its natural and non-toxic values with no side effects.

The Tibetans settled in Ladakh have set up a full-fledged medical centre based on Amchi system called Mentse Khang in the Leh town, where routine check-ups, diagnose and cure take place, and medicines are available.

It is known for its rich gathering of science, art and philosophy. It is based on holistic approach of body and mind for leading a healthy way of life with complete accord with nature. It aims to systematically and logically understand the body, disease in relation to the environment.

Till now the practice of this ancient art of healing has been continued due to its effectiveness and strong socio-cultural basis in most of Indian Himalayas. But since last two three decades the system is on decline in these regions due to lack of support from government, national and international organizations. Although little development can be seen in shape of few formal Amchi clinics and Institutional training facilities, etc, but the biggest setback for the survival of this tradition in the coming generations is the lack of interest among young educated people in absence of good government job opportunities. Most of the ancient Amchis families have already lost their family tradition and are only left with their family names. Therefore a proper action is required to save this age-old healing system for the next generation.

Increasing commercial harvesting of medicinal plants in Ladakh is causing certain species to become rare and threatens to damage the unique ecosystem of the region, negatively impacting upon the genetic biodiversity and access to the plants for the Amchis. Conservation of Ladakh's medicinal plants is vital to the continuity of the Amchi tradition; however, Amchis now face increasing difficulties in securing access to the raw materials that form the basis of their medicine.

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