Scientists integrated eastern and western medicine to treat traumatized Tibetan refugee monks

March 13th, 2009 - 5:30 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, March 13 (ANI): Health experts in the U.S. have successful integrated eastern and western medicine to treat traumatized Tibetan refugee monks who fled violent religious persecution.
The achievement was recently made by experts at the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights (BCRHHR) at Boston Medical Center.
The refugee monks they treated arrived in Boston suffering from symptoms of traumatic stress, interfering with their meditative practice.
The experts revealed that the monks were diagnosed by their traditional healers as having srog-rLung, a life-wind imbalance.
They said that they had the knowledge that barriers exist between western and eastern medicine, and thus they implemented their own complementary therapy options to heal them.
According to Tibetan medicine, a srog-rLung disturbance has the potential to develop into a serious mental illness, leaving the victim at odds with the balance of the universe as well as jeopardizing his personal health.
Its symptoms include uncontrollable crying, worrying, excessive mental, physical or verbal activity and an unhappy mind.
Other conditions affecting the monk’’s health include anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The BCRHHR used traditional healers to obtain a dual diagnosis for the development of holistic therapy that responds to both PTSD and srog-rLung.
“This research and treatment involving patients accustomed only to traditional medicine, presented an opportunity for the acceptance of non-traditional therapeutic approaches,” said Dr. Michael Grodin, professor of health law, bioethics and human rights at Boston University School of Public Health, and professor of psychiatry, sociomedical sciences and community medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.
“The difference between Tibetan and Western disease pathologies represents the need for evidence-based complementary therapies, such as the Tibetan monks in exile and other religious refugee populations,” he added.
Tibetan Buddhist tradition dictates that the cure for suffering is enlightenment, which can be attained through meditation that frees the body from anxieties and fears.
The monks who were treated for PTSD and srog-rLung are finding that meditation has become difficult after nights filled with flashbacks, which put the monks in a state of hyper-vigilance for the next day.
With a view to providing complimentary therapy for the monks, the researchers needed to integrate eastern and western medicine, as that could enable them to properly address both conditions.
They said that Ancient Tibetan Bon tradition of yogic practice was used to induce the mind into a relaxed state necessary to purify oneself through motion.
According to them, the yogic practice combines movement of the body and controlled breath with movements of the mind to bring mental stability and offers an alternative to the monks” inability to eliminate invasive thoughts.
The group further revealed that another therapy they relied upon was singing bowl therapya form of music therapy, as sound has a direct connection to the heart, which aligns with srog-rLung experienced by the monks.
Grodin said that techniques of western medicine like anti-depressant prescribing and psychotherapy were integrated with Tibetan healing practices like medicines prescribed by Tibetan Amchi, meditation advice, Tai Chi and Qi Gong exercises.
Grodin is trained in traditional Chinese medicine, such as acupuncture and meditation.
A research article on these findings appears in the online edition of the journal Mental Health, Religion and Culture. (ANI)

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