Medical advances throughout history have helped keep people healthy longer. With more medicine and tools we are now able to cure most medical issues that come our way. While the Ladakh culture’s use of herbs and other natural medications benefited them, as a whole there could be a more advanced look at the medical techniques that might have a positive effect on their lives.
Much of what the Ladakh culture revolved around before westernization was the use of natural resources to get all of the material they needed. They used natural material to make their own clothes, grew their own food and used all things that the land had to offer them. Their animals played an important aspect of their culture, giving them dung to help grow plants, transportation, material for clothing and sources of food. Their agriculture based on spirits and if they made the spirits of the water and earth happy by not disturbing their ideals. Everyone was raised to take pride in their culture and environment. Even children take care of the land. When the author Helen Norberg-Hodge went to wash her clothes in the river, a child told her that only this certain river was saved for drinking water. While this cultural ideal helped them stay grounded and prosper on their own, their medical advances were limited.
With all of the Ladakh based on natural resources and environmental material, this limited their medical abilities. Their doctors are called amchi and learn their ways from the older generations in their family. The amchi are responsible to look after the sick in the village and must diagnose any medical problems. They use the pulse of a person to determine sickness by feeling the blood flow and the energy of the blood. Amchi can also use other body parts to diagnose their patients. The color or texture of a tongue or the eyes can help. Moods of their patients also playing a role in the diagnoses. If they become angry quickly or other mood swings. The way the amchi deals with medical problems is different than how the western culture approaches their medical problems.
When an amchi comes into contact with a cut or wound, they use natural resources for a solution. They have access to herbs and other tools to fix the problem. In the book we learn about how an amchi healed a boy’s knee. Instead of stitches and antibiotics, natural remedies were made. The amchi chose material from herbs to black powder. While mixing the ingredients, there was a saying chanted. The end result was a mass of green paste which was placed on the boy’s cut. After a few days, the cut was healed. An amchi is given a book with information on types of herbs to use and where to find them. They also have other prescribed actions for villagers to do. One example is applying a hot iron to the skin and villagers comment that these methods are useful and helpful.
While these methods might have helped the Ladakh people, they don’t have any intensive treatment. Surgery is not used in their culture. This...