"If people want to have medicated baths in spring or autumn in our hospital, they must make an appointment one to two months in advance. Most of the people who come here have tried the baths before," Gyaqoi Tsering, a physician at the Qinghai Tibetan Medicine Hospital said.
Medicated bath therapy is a special kind of Tibetan medicine treatment in which patients soak part or all of their body in medicated water. They can choose an appropriate temperature and bathe their whole body or only the affected area. Medicine dissolved in the water can directly penetrate the pores of the skin and acupoints to get to the body’s energy channels, blood vessels, and be distributed throughout the body.
"Now, 50 percent of the patients we receive come from outside Qinghai Province, and the number of patients from abroad is increasing year by year. They come from as far as Russia and also neighboring countries," said Gyaqoi Tsering.
What he most remembers is a 12-year-old boy from Kazakhstan who was in a vegetative state as a result of an infection from a bone fracture.
"In spring 2012 the child took medicated baths here. The next year, the boy’s parents again brought him here for treatment. The translator told me that not long after the boy’s first treatment, the boy’s eyes and body had a reaction to music."
Gyaqoi Tsering explained that when a patient comes to the Tibetan Medicine Hospital, a doctor will first classify their illness and make a medicated soup that includes the five flavors of manna as a base, adding different medicinal herbs based on each patient’s condition. Afterwards, the patient takes a medicated bath catered to their condition. In addition to water and steam baths, there are special baths for localized pain.
Tibetan medicine is over 2,000 years old, and its longevity and effectiveness are inextricably linked.
"When I was still an apprentice, I would accompany my master carrying a basket on my back to grassy hills 3,000-4,000 meters above sea level in order to gather medicinal herbs," Gyaqoi Tsering said.
" A lot of medicinal herbs are poisonous in their raw form, however, we have special doctors who process and cure the medicine to remove the toxins in a way that still retains all the minerals that the human body needs. The healing effect of medicated baths is something that cannot be replaced with other kinds of medicine."