India > Dharamsala

Grinding Herbs

Footage by Bernard Coops and Stephan Kloos (2012)

To make Tibetan medicines, the herbal and mineral ingredients of a formula are combined and then ground together into a fine powder. This powder is later used to make pills. Certain ingredients—for example precious stones or poisonous plants—require special processing and are added only at a later stage. Some doctors say that the laborious process of manually crushing and sieving still yields better results than using machines. However, making medicine for the more than one hundred thousand patients treated annually at the Men-Tsee-Khang’s fifty-four branch clinics throughout India and Nepal would not be possible without a certain degree of mechanization. The two grinding machines at the Men-Tsee-Khang pharmacy work almost non-stop to produce the more than fifty tons of medicine  needed each year.

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