Tibetan medicine maker sees growth in herbal market for 3,800-year-old recipes

Tibetan medicine maker sees growth in herbal market for 3,800-year-old recipes

Dawa Tsering has encountered obstacles since becoming president of Ganlu Tibetan Pharmaceutical Co in the Tibet autonomous region, but he is confident of leading the enterprise into a new era.

With a history dating back more than 3,800 years, Tibetan medicinal science draws on knowledge from ancient China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkistan.

"The origin of Ganlu can be traced to the pharmaceutical bureau of the ancient Tibetan Medicinal and Astrological Institute, and it is also called the Mentseekhang in the Tibetan language," the 45-year-old businessman said.

Established 320 years ago, it became a pharmaceutical factory of Tibetan medicine in the 1980s, and a listed company in the 2000s. It has long been known for its authentic Tibetan medicine.

"We have won many prizes and accolades from the central and regional governments, and 55 of our drugs have been approved by the central authorities for national production," Dawa Tsering said. The company's output value surpassed $1.5 million last year, he added.

The company has a staff of 380, most of whom are Tibetan, and its products are popular in areas inhabited by many Tibetans across the country.

"The main markets for Tibetan medicines are in Tibetan-inhabited places, especially in rural areas, where people have relied on traditional Tibetan medicine for thousands of years," Dawa Tsering said.

The company has made efforts to expand its markets nationwide. Growing awareness of Tibetan medicine's reputation has led to more non-Tibetan people using it, he said.

"We hope more people will benefit from Tibetan medical science, and we also expect the industry to contribute to the overall development of the region," he said.

Before taking the helm at Ganlu, Dawa Tsering was the president of a construction company in Tibet, and his salary was double what it is now.

"I am disadvantaged with my pay, but I'm excited to continue my career in this company. It's a new challenge for me, and I have to start all over again," he said.

"It's harder here as I need to put everything in order, but I believe that producing traditional Tibetan medicine is worthwhile, and I am pleased to do it."

In his new role, he has to learn many things, as Tibetan medicine is related to Tibetan medical science, and he has to improve his Tibetan language skills.

"I went to school in Shanghai and Chengdu (in Sichuan province), so my Tibetan literacy level is low. Every night, I spend two hours studying Tibetan and reading Tibetan medical materials," he said.

Every year, the company employs 10 college graduates and provides free drugs to Tibetan residents in rural areas.

Dawa Tsering said his company now plans to develop new food, drink and makeup products using Tibetan herbs.

"We expect these new products will help protect against altitude sicknesses, extreme cold and oxidation," he said. "We also hope the new products will help with activating blood and dissolving stasis.

"Beauty products such as sun cream and hand lotion are also in our list."