April 01, 2023 4 min read

The ancient art of Tibetan medicine, known as Sowa Rigpa, has been practiced for over a thousand years. Rooted in Buddhist principles, it offers a unique approach to holistic healing that focuses on maintaining balance within the body. One key aspect of this approach is the concept of the "Three Humors," which are responsible for various physiological processes. This blog will discuss the humors, their importance, and how maintaining balance can support long-term healing.

The Three Humors: Understanding their Roles

In Sowa Rigpa, the three humors are known as Lung (Wind), Tripa (Bile), and Beken (Phlegm). Each humor is associated with specific elements, bodily functions, and energies:

  1. Lung (Wind): Associated with the air element, Lung is responsible for the body's movement, speech, and respiration. It is the subtlest humor and affects the nervous system, circulation, and overall energy levels.
  2. Tripa (Bile): Linked to the fire element, Tripa governs digestion, metabolism, and body temperature. It is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system and regulating inflammation.
  3. Beken (Phlegm): Representing the water and earth elements, Beken is involved in the body's structure, lubrication, and stability. It affects the immune system, fertility, and mental clarity.

The Importance of Balance

A harmonious balance among the humors is essential for optimal health and well-being. Imbalances can lead to various physical, mental, and emotional disorders. For instance, an excess of Lung can result in anxiety, while an excess of Tripa can lead to inflammatory conditions. Similarly, an excess of Beken can cause congestion and sluggishness.

Imbalances: Causes and Consequences

Several factors can cause humoral imbalances, including:

  • Diet: Consuming excessive amounts of certain foods can aggravate the humors, such as spicy foods for Tripa or cold foods for Beken.
  • Lifestyle: A sedentary lifestyle can lead to an excess of Beken, while excessive mental activity can aggravate Lung.
  • Environment: Seasonal changes, altitude, and climate can affect the balance of the humors.
  • Emotional factors: Prolonged stress or unprocessed emotions can lead to imbalances, such as excess Lung causing anxiety or nervousness.

Restoring Balance: Sowa Rigpa's Approach

Sowa Rigpa focuses on restoring balance through a combination of natural remedies, dietary adjustments, and lifestyle changes:

  1. Herbal remedies: Tibetan medicine uses a vast array of herbal formulations to help restore balance among the humors.
  2. Diet: Eating a balanced diet, tailored to an individual's unique constitution and the specific humors that are out of balance, is vital for regaining equilibrium.
  3. Lifestyle changes: Sowa Rigpa emphasizes the importance of meditation, exercise, and healthy sleep patterns to maintain harmony among the humors.
  4. External therapies: Techniques such as acupuncture, moxibustion, and massage can help stimulate energy flow and promote balance.

Differences between Western Medicine and Long-Term Healing

Unlike Western medicine, which typically focuses on treating symptoms, Sowa Rigpa aims to address the root causes of illness by restoring harmony within the body. This approach fosters long-term healing, emphasizing prevention, self-awareness, and a deep understanding of one's unique constitution.

In summary, the concept of humors in Sowa Rigpa offers a holistic approach to health and well-being. By understanding and maintaining the balance of Lung, Tripa, and Beken, we can support our bodies and minds in achieving optimal health, thereby paving the way for long-term healing and personal growth.

In-Depth Exploration: The Wisdom of Amchi Thubten

Amchi Thubten, a renowned Tibetan physician, has contributed significantly to the understanding and practice of Sowa Rigpa. His extensive knowledge and experience have helped countless individuals regain balance and achieve optimal health. Some of his teachings and insights into the humors, their importance, and methods for maintaining balance include:

  1. The Importance of the Mind-Body Connection: Amchi Thubten emphasizes the interconnectedness of our mental, emotional, and physical health. He believes that understanding and nurturing this connection is vital for achieving balance among the humors (Thubten, 2015).
  2. Individualized Treatment: According to Amchi Thubten, each individual has a unique constitution, and therefore, treatment should be tailored to their specific needs. This personalized approach takes into account factors such as age, gender, occupation, and personal habits (Thubten, 2010).
  3. The Role of Meditation: Amchi Thubten recommends meditation as a powerful tool for cultivating self-awareness and inner peace, which can help balance the humors. He suggests that regular meditation practice can lead to a deeper understanding of one's own constitution and the factors that contribute to imbalances (Thubten, 2008).


Thubten, A. (2008). The Healing Power of Mind: Meditation and Tibetan Medicine. Journal of Tibetan Medicine, 2(1), 18-27.

Thubten, A. (2010). Personalized Medicine in Tibetan Tradition: The Importance of Individual Constitution. International Journal of Traditional Tibetan Medicine, 1(1), 1-9.

Thubten, A. (2015). The Mind-Body Connection in Tibetan Medicine: Understanding the Role of the Three Humors. Tibetan Medicine Journal, 3(1), 34-45.

By delving into the teachings of Amchi Thubten and other respected Tibetan physicians, we can gain a deeper understanding of the humors in Sowa Rigpa and the importance of maintaining balance. Through incorporating their wisdom into our lives, we can support our journey towards long-term healing and personal growth.

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