Amchi Medicine

Tibetan medicine”, also known as the Amchi System of Medicine in Ladakh and commonly known as Sowa-Rigpa, has similarities with Ayurvedic medicine in India and it is the traditional medicine in many parts of the Himalayas. It is one of the most ancient, well documented living medical traditions in the world. Sowa- Rigpa means “science of healing” and is known for its rich accumulation of science, art and philosophy. It aims to systematically and logically understand the body, disease in relation to the environment.

Until the early 1960s, Amchi medicine used to be the only kind of system of medicine for the rural people of Ladakh and other trans-Himalayan regions. Hence, people in these societies have deep faith in the Sowa-Rigpa system and it is deeply rooted in their culture. Amchi practitioners are highly respected, both socially and spiritually, for they are believed to be the representatives of Sangyas-Manla (i.e., the Medicine Buddha). For centuries, every major village and hamlet had their own Amchi. Besides treating patients, Amchis are the most learned and resourceful persons of the village. This system changing due to the introduction of allopathic medicine  . It is a real pity that the world is not returning to more natural medical systems like Amchi medicine, sincethere is a need to encourage practitioners to re-adopt this holistic system of medicine for everyone’s sake

Diagnostic methods
A physician of Sowa-Rigpa employs three main tools for diagnosing a patient: (1) visual diagnosis, (2) diagnosis by touch and (3) diagnosis by questioning. Visual diagnosis is comprised of two main methods of tongue examination and urinalysis. Various diseases can be diagnosed by checking the nature, colour and smoothness etc. of the tongue.
Methods of Treatment
The methods of treatments include four major areas: (1) diet, (2) behaviour, (3) medicine and (4) accessory/external therapies. In each of these areas, right administration is very important. Minor ailments can be treated with proper regulation of diet and behaviour alone. A patient who is in medium condition can be treated with medicine like decoction, powder, pills, purgatives, emetics etc. And in advanced stages, a disease can be cured by application of accessory/ external therapies like moxabustion, venesection, fomentation, massage, surgery, etc. Buddhist rituals and mantras also play a very important role in the treatment of diseases. Moreover, it is known that the role of a physician is very important in the treatment of a patient. Therefore, special emphasis is given to this aspect in Amchi medicine.
Pharmacology
Based on the theory of five elements, pharmacology of Sowa-Rigpa presumes that every substance on earth has medicinal value and therapeutic efficacy. Traditional values that are associated with these various resources (i.e., medicinal plants) have gained tremendous importance in the present century. In addition, cosmetics industries are increasingly using natural ingredients in their products, and these natural ingredients often include extracts of medicinal plants. Among the richest arrays of registered medicinal plants of India, Himalayan plants found in Ladakh are among the most well-known medicinal plants. Apart from being income-generating commodities, medicinal plants are the main medicinal sources of underprivileged communities. A great deal of traditional knowledge about the use of various plants is still intact within the Amchi community.
Trip Objectives
Our goal is to give you the opportunity to experience Ladakhi lifestyle and culture, which will help you appreciate others as well as yourself—and your own culture. We offer a life-enriching exchange program where the goal is to share different forms of life. Local people also benefit from interacting with you, for an in-depth exploration is always beneficial to everyone.

By giving you true insight into the realitiy of Ladakhi life, we aim to ensure that you are not returning home with any wrong views. Our main objective through this program, then, is to become a responsible mediator between our clients who are interested in discovering natural medicinal systems as well as the cultures in which these systems are used. We welcome people with a strong interest in knowledge about natural medicine, and in the preservation and promotion of traditional medicinal systems for the benefit of all human beings. Hence, you will meet the traditional Amchi physicians as they practice in villages and towns. Their everyday activities include flower and herb collection and medicine preparation practices. You will be brought to traditional villages where traditional medical practices are a living knowledge. You will also meet other local individuals and organisations involved in the preservation and promotion of Tibetan medicine. Clients will be able to get free consultations as part of their trip. Your interaction with the traditional doctors will encourage them to continue  and preserve this centuries old medicine system for the benefit of remote and underprivileged people and all sentient-beings.

ITINERARY
The following itinerary is designed to make your holiday as enjoyable and meaningful as possible. This itinerary will provide a rich combination of activities for a life-altering experience that includes trekking, cultural interaction, spiritual experiences, local hospitality, floral diversity and historical discoveries.
DAY 1, DELHI-LEH: You will be met by a representative of Lungta Travels at Leh (Ladakh’s capital) airport and escorted to guesthouse. This first day is important for acclimatising to the high altitude of Ladakh. Though Leh airport is small, it is the highest airport in the world (3500 mtr.).

DAY 2, LEH: Short walk to the Shantistupa for a panoramic view of Leh and drive to the city centre to visit Leh Palace and Namgyal Tsemo, locate telephone booths, banks, Internet cafe’s, and other facilities. In the evening, you will be invited to have dinner with Tsewang Gonbo (founder of Lungta Travels) who will give a presentation about Ladakhi culture, its traditions, politics, architecture, education and developments.

DAY 3, SHEY-THIKSAY: The day begins at 6:00 am when you will witness an assembly of monks praying at Thiksay monastery. Shey Palace is the old capital of Ladakh and the home of the former kings of Ladakh. The palace overlooks the beautiful Indus valley. Its main temple contains a large Buddha statue. Thiksay monastery is located near Shey Palace. It was founded in the 15th century by the Buddhist Gelukpa order. On our way back to Leh, we will visit a small monastery right opposite from His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s residence in Ladakh, which is a famous place for teaching. The monastery is run by the Karmapa sect of Buddhism and about 30 monks live here.

DAY 4, WHAT IS AMCHI MEDICINE?: At 10:30 am, we will attend a talk on Amchi medicine, given by a traditional practitioner. After this talk, it is possible to receive a personal consultation from an Amchi physician. To conclude, we will visit local organisations engaged in the preservation and promotion of Amchi medicine.

DAY 5, EXPERIENCE SHAMANISM: Morning visit to the famous oracle for some hours. In the afternoon, we will visit a man who analyzes people’s destinies by reading astronomic combinations according to the Tibetan Buddhist calendar. If you like, this man will analyze your destiny based on the personal information that you give him (i.e., date of birth, etc.).

DAY 6, LEH –LIKIR: After driving for about two hours, we will take you to the village of Likir via Basgo. On the way, you will pass the place where the Indus and Zanskar rivers meet as well as the green fields of Nimo. Basgo was once the ancient capital of western Ladakh. Its impressive fort has been declared a World Heritage Site by the Indian government. In Likir, you will visit the Likir monastery. This monastery is believed to date back to the 11th century. We will set up camp right below the village.

DAY 7, LIKIR-YANGTHANG: The trek from Likir to Yanthang is a four-hour walk. We’ll start leisurely after a good Ladakhi breakfast. We’ll cross Phobe-la at a height of 3,747 m (12,293 ft). As you start climbing up, you will see fascinating mushroom rock formations. The walk to the pass is not strenuous. In the village, you’ll see the manual harvesting of barley and other farming activities.

DAY 8, YANGTHANG-HEMIS SHUKPACHAN: Again not strenuous, the 2nd part of the trek after a pass from Yangthang to Hemis-shukpachan is a gradual downhill walk. We will generally complete this stretch in a total of three hours. You will visit a traditional family to experience their daily life.

DAY 9, HEMIS SHUKPACHAN-TINGMOSGANG: Leaving Hemis-shukpachan, we will pass by a grove of juniper trees. There are not too many juniper trees in Ladakh. Hence, Hemis-shukpachan is famous for having an entire grove of them! The trees are sacred for the local people. We’ll cross two passes. The first one is Rongtil-la (3,816 m/12,520 ft), which is not very steep. The second one, though, Meptak-la (3,845 m/12,615 ft) is quite steep. Two hours later, we’ll reach Tingmosgang village where you will stay in a Ladakhi home to experience family life. Here we’ll visit several traditional Amchi families.

DAY 10, TINGMOSGANG-CHULICHAN NUNNERY-LEH: Around 9:00 am, we’ll pick you up and visit Rizong monastery and Chulichan Nunnery.  You’ll visit the young nuns who used to perform strenuous agricultural labour to contribute to the monastery, but now receive daily education, just like the young monks. We will also visit Alchi monastery along the way, which contains some of the finest examples of Kashmiri style Buddhist murals. Bring your flashlight as the lighting is dim and these rather dark temples harbor world-famous wall stone paintings.

DAY 11, NUNS ASSOCIATION: This association is located near KBR Airport run by a lady who decided to renounce the life of normal Ladakhi women to show the real path of Dharma to those women who thrive to seek Buddhist teachings and practice. In the past, a nun was considered someone who helped at a rather big family. The Nuns Association now aims to help realize the true meaning of a nun’s life. We will visit Am chi Tsering Palmo and colleagues in the Nuns Association office and learn about her project as well as about her views on Tibetan medicine (she is an Amchi by profession).

DAY 12, LEH: This last day, you’ll be able to relax and visit Leh on your own, buy gifts, have dinner, etc. Of course, we’ll provide a local guide if you would like to be accompanied.

DAY 13, LEH-DELHI: Flight to Delhi and in the afternoon where you will get a tour of the historical monuments, such as the Red fort, Jama Masjid, and the Lotus Temple.

FLIGHT HOME: We can arrange your internal transportation or you may purchase the ticket yourself.

Accomodation: You will stay in guesthouses run by families. These  types of accommodation are neat, clean, and friendly and they provide a very quiet atmosphere. Local and traditional food will be provided, in line with our goal to support the Ladakhi economy. On treks, we will provide camping facilities.  Good food and hygiene are taken care of by our experienced trekking crew (a Guide, Cook and Helpers). During some treks, we will provide accommodation in home stays (Community-based Tourism -- Traditional Homestays) that are set up to offer high-quality accommodation.

Group size: Groups include 8-10 people to ensure quality of service.

Cost: The cost of this trip is available upon request