PRC-Tibet > Lhasa

Drying Pills & Factory Operations

Footage by Frances Garrett (2001)

By far the most common form of contemporary Tibetan pharmaceuticals is the pill (Tibetan: rilbu). Pills are made from powdered medicines and water in large rotating steel barrels and then dried in machines like the one seen in this video.

Drying rilbu is one of the large challenges of industrial production. According to medical theory, pills used to warm the body should dry in the sun and those used to cool should dry in the shade. There are thus widespread concerns among Tibetan pharmacists and doctors that machine drying may harm the potency of some medicines. However, the requirements of mass production make the traditional approach less sustainable.

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