Tawni Tidwell is not as yet a household name, but she is the first Westerner to be certified in Tibetan medicine among Tibetan peers, by Tibetan teachers, in the Tibetan language. Ms. Tidwell, who has Native American ancestry from both parents, is now a Tibetan M.D.
Melvin Konner writes about Ms. Tidwell in the WSJ, noting that Dr. Tidwell is headed for a Ph.D. in anthropology at Emory.
Dr. Tidwell’s dissertation is a study of her own Tibetan training and the uniting of two cultures. Tibetan practice grew out of Tibetan philosophy, which focuses on health rather than on illness. Tibetan doctors use ancient plant-based pharmaceuticals and guidance on nutrition and lifestyle—plus evaluations of patients in their personal context—to encourage a balanced life. They also have been open to supplementing their traditions with Western medicine’s high-tech ways.
Sophisticated research is exploring how Tibetan herbals might work. In a 2015 study, a herbal treatment for cardiac disease was found to alter the levels of hundreds of heart proteins. Clinical studies are ongoing, testing Tibetan approaches to diabetes and cancer.
The Tibetan tradition and its herbal medicines offer this inviting alternative to the typical Western approach: Learn to separate your pain from your suffering, and you might just be able to get on with your life without turning to powerful and potentially harmful drugs.
Read more from Dr. Konner here on this remarkable young woman, who explains to readers, “There is a difference between pain and suffering. … You may have to keep the pain, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep the suffering.”
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