Etiology of illness in traditional Bhutanese medicine

  • Jigme Singye District Hospital, Lhuntse, Bhutan.
Keywords: Delusion; Five elements; gSo-ba Rig-pa; Humours; Ignorance; Psychology.


According to the philosophy of traditional Bhutanese medicine, ignorance (Ma-Rig-Pa) is considered as the main cause
of all diseases of mankind. However, other factors such as seasons, psychiatric emotions, behaviour and dietary habits
also acts as the triggering agents. This paper is a narrative review based on the medical text of traditional medicine
(Sowarigpa) and religious text available in the country. All the medical text states that our defective mind (ignorance)
is the main source of all kinds of ailments in the living beings. Due to ignorance, we the human beings are unable to
see the real phenomenon and therefore leading to enclosed knowledge of oneself, which in turn gives rise to the three
mental poisons; attachment, anger and delusion. Ignorance is the ultimate source of these three mental poisons which
compel people to follow wrong lifestyle that disturb the balance of the three humours – wind, bile and phlegm. Thus,
in turn gives rise to the four hundred and four different types of diseases as described in gSo-ba Rig-pa.


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