News and Views on Tibet

SARS fears boost sales of traditional Tibetan medicine

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BEIJING – SARS fears have caused sales of a traditional Tibetan drugs believed to strengthen of the human immune system to triple, an official at a Tibet-based pharmaceutical company revealed.

“Over the past few days, we’ve sold out our entire stock,” said Yang Jing, a sales manager at the Tibetan Medicine Plant in Lhasa, capital of the Himalayan region.

“At the moment, we’re selling three times the usual amount of ‘Changjie’ pills and Tibetan incense,” she said Thursday.

Not a single case of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) has been detected in Tibet, which closed its borders to foreigners and visitors from other parts of China in late April.

Barring humans from crossing the border has not stopped Tibetan drugs from becoming a huge success in the rest of China.

“These medicine brands are sold in all the big cities, such as Beijing and Guangzhou,” said Yang.

Mima, a doctor at the Lhasa-based Hospital for Tibetan Medicine, said many people are know buying traditional Tibetan drugs in order to boost their immune systems and stand a better chance against SARS.

“The ‘Changjie’ pill contains several Tibetan medical herbs,” said Mima, who like many other Tibetans has just one name.

He added that at a price of 11.70 yuan (1.40 dollars), the pill is not expensive, since people only need to take it once or twice a week.

Another type of traditional Tibetan medicine is not eaten but inhaled, as people wear it in a chain around their necks, being constantly exposed to the fumes it emits.

“You just have to breathe it in order to improve your immune system,” said Mima.

According to reports, this medicine is referred to as “rilbu gunag” in the Tibetan language and is composed of nine different ingredients each associated with a local deity.

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