On the fourth day of the international workshop on “Making Efficacious Medicine,” the participants visit the herb stores in Kathmandu. As a practical exercise and as a means to exchange experiences, the participants will compound several Tibetan formulas over the coming days. Now, the ingredients for these formulas need to be purchased.
Most of the purchases are done the venerable herb store in Itumbahal, which Gyan Man Singh runs in the fourth generation. The herb store caters primarily to Ayurvedic doctors and pharmacists. But as there is a considerable overlap in the materia medica used in Ayurveda and Tibetan Sowa Rigpa, Gyan Man Singh also has numerous amchi as customers from Tibet and all over the Himalayas. Many standard ingredients for Tibetan medicine are not native to Tibet and Nepal has become a major hub for the herb trade.
Customers from Tibet, however, have become rare these days. A stricter import regime and the problem of getting or renewing passports that most Tibetans are facing pushed the business into the hand of wholesalers.