2 February, Kathmandu, Nepal – WWF Nepal in association with the Himalayan Amchi Association Nepal launched the book titled 'Sowa Rigpa, Ethnobotany, and Conservation of Threatened Species in Nepal' at an event in Kathmandu today. The book is an outcome of the research conducted in collaboration with the Amchis - practitioners of the science of healing known as Sowa Rigpa - of Nepal and supported by Himalayan Amchi Association (HAA), Kathmandu; WWF Nepal; Dartmouth College, USA; and the Central Department of Botany, Tribhuvan University (TU), Nepal.
The book presents information about Sowa Rigpa, including histories of knowledge transmission and clinical practices among Nepal’s Amchi practitioners, the medicinal ingredients prescribed with a focus on Himalayan medicinal plants, and the practices of substitution (Tibetan: tshab) for substances derived from species that have become rare and endangered or are at risk. It also includes a compendium of medicinal plant species.
The book is written by Suresh Kumar Ghimire from TU, Amchi Gyatso Bista and Norbu Sangpo Lama from Himalayan Amchi Association, and Sienna R. Craig from Dartmouth College. The writers have stated that the baseline data on medicinal ingredients used in Sowa Rigpa and practices of substitution were collected through collaborative fieldwork with Amchis from Mustang and Dolpa districts as well as those living in Kathmandu.
In his address as the Chief Guest of the event, Dr. Babu Raja Amatya, Chief of Ayurveda and Alternative Medicine at the Ministry of Health and Population, said, “The book encompasses the traditional medicinal practices by Amchis in some of the harshest topographic regions of the country, so it paves way for documentation as well as development of such treatment methods.”
Amchi Gyatso Bista, Chairperson of Himalayan Amchi Association and one of the authors, stated, “The book seeks to validate Amchi knowledge in relation to plant science, environmental stewardship, Himalayan cultural systems, and public health. "
Sowa Rigpa has existed as a dynamic medico-cultural system across the Himalaya, Tibetan Plateau, Mongolia, northern India, and Bhutan for centuries. It continues to play an integral role in aspects of public health care, ecological knowledge, and forms of cultural transmission in all these locales. In addition, Sowa Rigpa has become a globally recognized medical system that is practiced as a compliment and alternative to “western” biomedicine in communities across the world, from Berlin to Boston to Beijing and beyond, the book states.
“WWF Nepal is pleased to collaborate with organizations from such diverse backgrounds in providing continuity to such valuable medicinal tradition," said Dr. Ghana S. Gurung, Country Representative, WWF Nepal. He also emphasized the need of collaboration between policymakers, local communities, and development partners for conservation of indigenous species to benefit both the people and nature.
The launch event was attended by representatives from Himalayan Amchi Association, TU, Himalayan Bouddha Foundation, Sowa Rigpa International College and WWF Nepal.
About the book:
The book is an outcome of the research conducted in collaboration with the Amchis of Nepal and with support from the Himalayan Amchi Association (HAA), Kathmandu; WWF Nepal; Dartmouth College, USA; and the Central Department of Botany (Tribhuvan University), Nepal. This work was initiated in 2009/2010 to identify substitutes for threatened species of plants and wild animals used in compounding medicines by integrating knowledge and practices of Amchis or practitioners of Sowa Rigpa (Tibetan Medicine) in Nepal.
Spriha Shrestha, Communications Officer, WWF Nepal