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or me and Dugs are Tibetan external thera¬pies which are described in the Phyima rgyud - the Final Tantra of Yuthok Yonten Gonpo's great medical compendium, the Four Tan¬tras (Rgyud bzhi). Hor me is a type of hot compress, whereas the term Dugs is used to cover a wide variety of both hot and cold compresses.

What most intrigues me about Hor me and Dugs is their simplicity and cost effectiveness. The benefit for less affluent populations is important. This stems from my time working in the Third World where this is a real and dire issue for those in need of quality af¬fordable medical care. Additionally, I see the benefit of cost-effective treatments in my own highly devel¬oped country. With barriers to coverage of alterna¬tive medicine by insurance companies, affordable adjunctive treatment remains inaccessible to many. Yes, we are greatly connected to advanced medical technology. Yet, many people in the West are discon-nected from the knowledge of simple inexpensive herbs and foods that our gardens and kitchen cabi¬nets provide.

One of the most important things attributed to the Medicine Buddha from the Tibetan Medical collection Rgyud bzhi is the simple statement, “There is no sub-stance that cannot be purified and used as medicine.” Use what is local and in abundance, and prevent over-harvesting. Rely on the principles of taste, quality and power of effect to process herbs outside the tradi¬tional Tibetan pharmacopeia. The Medicine Buddha's Pure Land, Tanadug, can be within your household if you just understand how to provide the antidote to the basic characteristics of the three humors.


In Tibetan medicine it is said, “Without Wind, dis¬ease cannot grow, spread, harden or arise”, therefore in treatment of lumps, cysts, tumors and any abnormal growths, if you control the Wind, then you stop the spread and increase of these disorders. This is true in both benign and malignant growths. It is very impor¬tant to know the pathology of breast cysts and tumors. Most certainly all three humors are involved. Yet, influ¬ences of more Earth and Water (bad kan), Fire (mkhris pa) or Wind (rlung) will vary. Western pathology can determine how easy or difficult something is to treat, or whether you should treat at all. If the nature of the patient and nature of the disease match, it is of course more serious; one should proceed with caution. When the nature of the patient and the disease don't match, it is likely to be less serious or difficult. Staging and ty¬pology by Western and Tibetan methods determine if Hor me is the right course of action.

Breast tissue lies close the lymphatic system. Thus, as you do not want to spread an aggressive heat-natured 

tumor through pressing and applying a Hor me com-press or massage, you must use Tibetan methods of diagnosis properly, in addition to Western methods. Yet, some people choose not to seek Western meas-urements or treatments. In all cases, the risks of not seeking licensed allopathic care in conjunction must be explained in detail. This is an ethical requirement, both to protect the patient from secondary disorders and to prevent lack of proper treatment for the stag¬ing and situation.

One patient experienced an instant cure of a fi-brocystic lump with Hor me. For many years one week prior to menstruation, her breasts hurt and a hard mobile lump would appear. After her period, it would disappear until the following month. The history of this patient is an interesting one. When her menses began there was blockage of her uterus. This went unnoticed for several years before the parents took her in to inquire why her cycle hadn't begun, despite appearing developed. They discovered that blood had remained inside her womb. This old blood is essen¬tially very toxic; because of the relationship of blood filtering through the liver, as well as hormones and the liver, the dirty substances mixed with the blood and combined with Wind. The dirty blood also af¬fected digestion, further compromising her liver. Af¬ter preliminary treatment with formulas to clean the blood and female system, we decided to try Hor me applied to the lump during the active time. The pa¬tients' nature was very strongly single Wind. Thus the thought is, the treatment matches nicely. After one Hor me application and breast massage it never ap¬peared again.

INGREDIENTS: pi pi ling (Piper longum L, Long Pepper) Taste is hot and mildly sweet.

Post-Digestive Taste is warm with oily quality that can be slightly pungent.

Power of Effect For all cold disorders of bad kan and rlung mixed.

I give it for cold indigestion as a spice for many patients because it “helps digest whatever is eaten”. It benefits excess Wind in the intestines with sound, gas, or pain. Good for hot and cold fighting in the intestines. Excess mucus, difficulty breathing are cleared. It acts as a rejuvenation catalyst by warming cold kidneys; thus benefits erectile dysfunction.

lce myang stha (Halitum, Pink Himalayan Salt) Taste is salty.

Post-Digestive Taste is warm.

Power of Effect By increasing digestive power and stomach heat, it opens appetite, clears bloating, belching, gas and discomfort of the stomach or large intestine. Halitum suppresses combined disorders of Bad Kan and rLung, benefits disorders of the eyes and helps cold-natured tumors. In my experience it can be used internally when mucus is found in the stools.

dza ti (Myristica fragrans, Nutmeg)

Taste is hot Post-Digestive Taste is warm.

Power of Effect Primarily suppresses rLung disor¬ders, especially heart wind and all heart-related dis¬orders. For chest or heart pain this is considered the best medicine. It increases body and digestive heat, assists digestion and aids appetite. It can be used for extreme Wind disorders which affect emotions and reason, such as incessant talking which does not make sense.

go snyod (Carum carvi, Caraway)

Taste is sweet and hot.

Post-Digestive Taste is warm, (note, some texts say it is neutral with slight warming effect).

Power of Effect Controls all general rLung Wind dis-orders. Heart Wind and fever in the heart are cleared, poisons and eye disorders will benefit; increases di-gestive heat and clears Bad Kan disorders.

zi ra dkar po (Cuminum cyminum, Cumin) Taste is hot and sweet.

Post-Digestive Taste is neutral.

Power of Effect Clears lung fevers, increases heat of the body, aids in digestion, increases the appetite. Disorders of indigestion will be cured. Will suppress disorders of Wind in the life-sustaining channel.

zi ra nag po (Nigella glandulifera, Black Cumin - do not confuse with Bunium Bulbocastanum)

Taste is sweet and hot.

Post digestive taste is warm.

Power of effect Clears cold liver disorders, increases the digestive heat, digests what is undigested and clears stomach disorders. It can be used as a tea to cure intestinal gas.

Note: My experience is that both types of Cumin benefit chronic cold-natured indigestion affecting the digestive heat and liver. Take following a meal, or as a sman rta (medicine carrier.) Especially helpful for tumors of the stomach or xiphoid process. Mix 1 part regular cumin and 1/4th part black cumin.

li shi (Eugenia aromatica L. Baill, Clove) Taste is hot.

Post-Digestive Taste is warm.

Power of Effect Clears all Wind diseases, disorders of the central life-sustaining channel and neurological disorders. Increases the power of digestive heat, es-pecially of the spleen and stomach, aids in digestion, helps stomach and liver disorders. Known to open the appetite, clear hiccups, cure halitosis, vomiting and diarrhoea due to cold. Aids in cold-natured arthritic disorders. Sometimes used for small pox and rashes, but harmful in blood heat disorders, thus clarify the nature first. til dkar and til nag (Sesamum indicum Dc, White ses-ame seed and Black sesame seed)

Taste is sweet.

Post-Digestive Taste is warm and oily.

Power of Effect Pacifies all Wind disease, is a tonic to strengthen the body and for increasing the Seven Bodily Sustainers; increases body temperature, hair and semen production. Increases digestive heat and can open blockages of the colon and rectum. It in¬creases reproductive fluids, therefore is a rejuvena¬tion herb. Can clear the mind and memory, smooth the skin, induce sleep and break apart uterine cysts.

yungs dkar (Sinapis alba L Boiss, Yellow Mustard Seed) Taste is hot and oily.

Post-Digestive Taste is warm.

Power of Effect clears cold disorders, pacifies general rlung disorders and treats Wind disorder of the lungs. The chapter on tumors frequently prescribes the use of yellow mustard.

na le sham (Piper nigrum, Black Pepper)

Taste is hot.

Post-Digestive Taste is warm or hot.

Power of Effect Any disease due to cold bad kan is cleared; stomach heat is increased and thus appetite is opened; benefits cold indigestion. Helps poisonous disorders: especially for meat poisons, and it is con-sidered the best for consumed food poisons. Helps female disorder where cold induces menstruation difficulty. Used for extreme cold exposure and hypo-thermia.


This cool compress for inflamed or infected eyes is a good example of Western herbal knowledge and Tibetan principles of formula design blended togeth¬er. Multiple systems may use different plant parts; one may use the root, another might use the bark, another the flower or seed. Subsequently, you must understand and rely on the three main points for 

compounding formulas: nature, taste and power of effect. In this way it works fine to mix different herbs from different cultural systems into one formula. Boil the mixture as a strong decoction. Strain well to avoid particulates in the eye. Cool to a safe temper¬ature. Wash the eye, follow with a compress for 3-10 minutes. This decoction can keep in the refrigerator for 3-5 days, warm for 1-2x a day use. Infections re¬quire 2-5x a day application. Daily use for blepharitis or inflammatory conditions can reduce or eliminate the need for steroid eye drops.


kan da kari or smug po' ma ga bra (Rubus idaeus, Red Raspberry)

Taste is sweet, astringent and hot.

Post-Digestive Taste is cool (and a little bit warm after eating).

Power of Effect Primarily used for dual disorders, es-pecially Wind mixed with heat and high fevers. Many fevers benefit from this herb: contagious Wind and un-ripe fevers are suppressed. It is said that for contagious fevers, it is the best medicine. The earth and water dis-order bad kan skya bo is controlled, as are colds, fevers in the lungs and all types of lung disorders.

Note: The leaf is widely used in the Western herbal pharmacopeia as a uterine and reproductive health tonic. Tibetan Medicine uses the inner bark for channel and Wind fevers. I use the leaf in the eye wash, not the inner bark as this is the traditional use in Western herbalism.

se ba'I me tog or se rgod (Rosa omeiensis Rolfe or Rosa brunonii, Rose)

Note: There are many varieties of rose: female, wild, and different parts are used. For this compress I use the flower. With the wild variety of rose we use the fruit for a different benefit.

Taste the flower is either bitter, or sweet (depending on the variety).

Post-Digestive Taste is cool, or it can be neutral. Power of Effect Gathers and clears all poisons, clears chu gser and plasma issues. Reduces inflammation in the blood and removes heat natured mkhris pa disor¬ders. Wind disorders are “grounded” back in the seat, literally “the mouth or gate is pushed down” accord¬ing to texts. It is known to suppress dual bad kan and mkhris pa. Removes channel blockages, helps issues of the lungs and eyes. A single cool water infusion for itchy dry eyes due to liver disease can benefit.

Taste the fruit is sweet and astringent. Post-Digestive Taste is cool.

Power of Effect The fruit of the rose (rose hip) kills mi-croorganisms externally or internally and helps re¬build stomach heat. It must be used carefully as it has a small amount of poison, therefore not to be used singly internally. Boil the leaf and branch down to a concen-trated decoction for the same effect as the fruit.

shu mo za (Trigonella foenum-graecum L, Fennugreek seed)

Taste is astringent and hot.

Post-Digestive Taste is cool and oily, with a little smooth; the seed is more smooth.

Power of Effect Good for swelling, clears wounds with heat and microorganisms. Removes pus and infec¬tions of the lungs. Increases digestive power, calms gas and intestinal cramps, removes diarrhoea, im¬proves anaemia. Can restore kidney function and regulate blood sugar levels. Helps painful menstru¬al cramps. External paste made of the leaves heals wounds, small pox, burns, abscesses, swelling.

lcam pa or rgya lcam (Alcea rosea l or Althaea rosea (l) Cavn, Malvia or Mallow) or the female variety mo lcam (Malva Sinensis)

Note: there are two main types, a Chinese variety (Hollyhock), which is poisonous. Here I discuss the Tibetan variety, male and female. Both types tradi¬tionally use the seed. In Western herbalism, the leaf used in a compress draws out poisons, calms heat rash and heat-related disorders. In the eye wash and compress, I use the leaves.

Below are given the separate power of effect for seed and leaf.

Taste the seed is sweet and astringent; the leaf more astringent.

Post-Digestive Taste is cool, the leaf has a blunt quality. Power of Effect Male: the flower helps for semen loss during urination or nocturnal emissions. Female: good for constipation, stops diarrhoea, increases kidney energy, removes blocked urine by acting as a diuretic, removes thirst. The female seed clears vaginal secretions and irregular menstruation.

Western herbalism praises the demulcent proper¬ties which soothe inflamed mucous membranes. It is useful for multiple gastrointestinal diseases because of the polysaccharides it contains. These directly help to form a protective layer over the stomach lining, in¬hibiting the effect of stomach acids. Gastric catarrh, enteritis, indigestion, ulcers and colitis all benefit from internal mallow leaf. Likewise bad kan and lung congestion from mucus is removed. Inflammation of the throat, tonsils, larynx, lost or scratchy voice, dry coughs, difficulty breathing, asthma, lung catarrh, bronchitis, emphysema all benefit from this expec¬torant taking out the root of a wet cough. However, in larger doses internally it acts as a laxative so take care. The polysaccharides inside the mallow have the power to inhibit components of the immune system known as the “complement cascade'. This overactive complement cascade is found in autoimmune and chronic inflammatory disorders.

The leaf is a diuretic and can be used in urinary tract disorders and infections. I use the leaf or seed as a tea for cystitis pain, which is almost always accom¬panied by autoimmune issues. Externally, the leaf soothes the eyes. Direct compresses heal skin lesions, boils, rashes, abscesses, eczema, psoriasis, infected or itchy bites, dries pus and relieves sunburns.

Note: If Malvia is unavailable, Plantago depress Wild or Plantago major L. (plantain) or tha ram as a leaf is also a good substitute.


In cases of infection or inflammation, use any of the following three ingredients according to avail¬ability. Two easy to find Western herbs are Oregon Grape Root and Eyebright. The Tibetan counterpart to Oregon Grape Root is Barberry.

Note: Barberry and Oregon Grape Root are used interchangeably. The Tibetan variety is less abundant in my country and the inner bark is most commonly used, but the flower and the fruit is also used.

Mahonia aquifolium or Mahonia nervosa or Mahonia repens are in the Berberis genus or Berberidaceae family. Berberis nervosa, B. aquifolium is commonly found in the USA (Oregon Grape Root) and is the state flower of Oregon. I use either the inner bark or root. Taste is bitter and astringent; berries and leaves are sour.

Post-Digestive Taste is cool and dry.

Power of Effect Benefits hepatic conditions of the liver, dirty blood, blood stagnation khrag ngan, heat disorders and infections affecting the digestive tract. It kills microorganisms: mouth sores or infections such as thrush, canker sores and sore throats will all benefit. It clears constipation, is good in urinary tract infections and cystitis. Helps haemorrhoids due to heat, skin infections and wounds such as psoriasis, weeping eczema, pustules, acne, syphilis, and genital sexually transmitted disorders or yeast infections.

My favourite use is for eye infections in place of West¬ern antibiotic drops.

skyer pa (Berberis jamesiana Forrest et W. W. Sm or Berberis tsarica Ahrendt, Barberry)

Taste of the flower is sweet, the fruit is sour, the inner bark is astringent.

Post-Digestive Taste of the flower is cool, the fruit warm, the inner bark is cool.

Power of Effect The flower helps uncontrolled bleed¬ing. The fruit benefits diarrhoea and helps the un¬digested become digested. The inner bark gathers poison and dries chu gser. Contagious and old fevers in the bones are dug out. The inner bark is especially praised for all types of sharp pain in the intestines due to heat diarrhoea. It helps contagious disorders which cause blood in the stools. It is especially good for the eyes, particularly eye infections or growths in the sclera. Make a khen dra (concentrated decoc- tion/paste) by boiling down the inner bark for bloody diarrhoea, all wounds, eye infections and discharges from either the penis or vagina, and any genital itch¬ing that is hot in origin. The quality of the root and the bark are equal in potency. The bark is more eco¬logically sustainable however, so I suggest that


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