Happy Birthday, Dr. Dadhon Jamling!

One of our very first posts had to be about the woman who inspired Artemis Purely Plants: Dr. Dadhon Jamling. Today - March 1st - is her birthday. So Happy Birthday, Dr. Dhadon Jamling!  Dhadon-la is Personal Physician to the Dalai Lama, mother to four grown children, a ferociously effective Tibetan medical doctor, scientist, and friend.

Dr. Jamling and I met in 1990. I came to Dharamsala, the Seat of the Tibetan government in Exile to measure the efficacy of Tibetan medical treatments. I had my scientific methodologies all worked out, and was prepared to get to work. Dharamsala lies at the foot of the HImalayas. Beautiful concrete homes and monasteries dapple the hillside, and paths meander alongside beautiful streams. Dr. Jamling and I met in a little wooden clinic, perched on the hillside. We could see the cows grazing outside our window. As we sat to discuss the first part of our project—the case histories of the next 1,600 patients that would come through her clinic that summer—I was struck by her ease of manner, and the way in which she moved between Tibetan ways of seeing things, and the Western biomedical, scientific “lens”.

What I thought would be 12 weeks turned into 6 summers working with Dr. Jamling. I remember rising early for work, and I would see her, climbing the big hill before me, in her beautiful Tibetan “chupa” dress, high heels, and umbrella. I would trample behind her, getting sweatier as the hill went up, stumbling over rocks, and trying to avoid the water buffalo. She was always so elegant, so unflappable, so kind. And I don’t think I ever saw her sweat.

Dr. Jamling went on to be co-author and researcher for 3 papers and presentations I wrote for Social Science and Medicine, and various technical research reports for WHO, DANIDA, and other funding bodies. She became the Personal Physcisan for the Dalai Lama, and also head of the Research Department of the Tibetan Medical Institute in Dharamsala. Together we wrote a book on healing anxiety with Tibetan medicine, and she has lectured all over the world on the benefits of Tibetan medicine for mind-body disorders.

Dr. Jamling once said to me,

“The Mind affects the body, and the body affects the mind, and you must find out which started first.”

The apothecary in at the Tibetan Medical clinic in McLeod Ganj, Dharmasala, led me to build an apothecary here, in Massachusetts, later in life, once my practice grew. As Dr. Jamling said,

“If we can begin to use the herbal medicine, then we are healing not only ourselves, but also the Earth. The pharmaceutical industry is polluting the rivers, and streams, and killing our fish.“

Her dedication to her patients, to her family, to the furthering of Tibetan medicine inspires my own clinical work and ways of being in the world, every day.