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The article reviews the book "Precious Pills: Medicine and Social Change Among Tibetan Refugees in India," by Audrey Post.

The article presents information regarding the proceedings of the Seventh International Congress of the International Association for the Study of Traditional Asian Medicine (IASTAM), which was held in Thimphu, Bhutan, during September 7-11, 2009. Under the convention, a multi-day panel titled "Cultivating the Wilds: Considering Potency, Protection, and Profit in the Sustainable Use of Himalayan and Tibetan Materia Medica" was organized.

Ethnopharmacological relevanceGeological materials, such as minerals, have a long history of usage as ingredients in multicompound formulations of Himalayan Sowa Rigpa medicine – as well as in its localized form of Bhutanese traditional medicine (BTM) – for treating various disorders for over thousand years. Yet, hardly any scientific research has been done on their ethnopharmacological efficacy and chemistry. Aim of the study This study documents and correlates the rarely explored ethnopharmacological and chemical identification of various minerals and their ethnomedicinal uses in BTM formulations for the first time. Material and methods A five stage cross-disciplinary process was conducted as follows: (1) a review of classical literature of Sowa Rigpa texts (Tibetan medical texts, pharmacopoeias and formularies) that are still in use today; (2) listing of mineral ingredients according to Sowa Rigpa names, followed by identification with common English and chemical names, as well as re-translating their ethnomedical uses; (3) cross-checking the chemical names and chemical composition of identified Sowa Rigpa minerals with various geological mineral databases and mineral handbooks; (4) authentication and standardization of Sowa Rigpa names through open forum discussion with diverse BTM practitioners; (5) further confirmation of the chemical names of identified minerals by consulting different experts and pharmacognosists. Results Our current study lists 120 minerals as described in Sowa Rigpa medical textbooks most of which we were able to chemically identify, and of which 28 are currently used in BTM herbo-mineral formulations. Out of these 28 mineral ingredients, 5 originate from precious metal and stone, 10 stem from earth, mud and rocks, 8 are salts, and 5 concern ‘essences’ and exudates. Conclusions Our study identified 120 mineral ingredients described in Sowa Rigpa medical textbooks, out of which 28 are currently used. They are crucial in formulating 108 multicompound prescription medicines in BTM presently in use for treating more than 135 biomedically defined ailments.

This essay analyzes the impacts of global and national pharmaceutical governance on the production of traditional medicines--specifically the making and marketing of Tibetan medicines in contemporary China. Based on research conducted in Tibetan medical factories and with practitioners, producers, and consumers of Tibetan medicines in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and Qinghai Province between 2002-2010, this article presents ethnographic evidence for the ways Tibetan knowledge systems and the value of medicines themselves are being transformed through interlinked engagements with science, technology, and the market. I focus on the implementation of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and related regulations: state-mandated standards that govern the conditions under which raw materials are evaluated, medicines are made, and finished products are sold. This article responds to calls for an anthropology of pharmaceutical practice in the context of social transformation. I propose that ethnography of Tibetan pharmaceutical production provides an apt illustration of global governance in action because it shows how shifts in medical production practices are tied to much larger processes of political and economic change within China and beyond. Further, my examination of points of incommensurability and ambivalence with respect to GMP regulations contributes to an anthropological analysis of the constitutive role cultural politics plays in the construction of value and meaning with respect to traditional medicine.

There is a growing interest in studies that document the relationship between science and medicine - as ideas, practices, technologies and outcomes - across cultural, national, geographic terrain. Tibetan medicine is not only known as a scholarly medical tradition among other Asian medical systems, with many centuries of technological, clinical, and pharmacological innovation; it also survives today as a complex medical resource across many Asian nations - from India and Bhutan to Mongolia, Tibet (TAR) and China, Buryatia - as well as in Western Europe and the Americas. The contributions to this volume explore, in equal measure, the impacts of western science and biomedicine on Tibetan grounds - i.e., among Tibetans across China, the Himalaya and exile communities as well as in relation to globalized Tibetan medicine - and the ways that local practices change how such “science” gets done, and how this continually hybridized medical knowledge is transmitted and put into practice. As such, this volume contributes to explorations into the bi-directional flows of medical knowledge and practice.

SUMMARY This article uses narrative ethnography centered on two individuals from Mustang, Nepal-their embodied experiences and subjectivities, including their understandings of birth and disability-to explore the ways that migration can alter senses of self and home, body and family, and what I call the realm of the possible. Although these stories emerge primarily through the voices of women, their narratives point toward a broader analysis about the relationship between place and well being, medicine and social change.

Sowa Rigpa is generally translated as 'the science of healing' and often used synonymously for 'Tibetan medicine'. Historically, Sowa Rigpa can be considered a borrowed term from Sanskrit, accompanied by an adopted sense of

Abstract: The lack of affordable, available pediatric drug formulations presents serious global health challenges. This article argues that successful pharmacotherapy for children demands an interdisciplinary approach. There is a need to develop new medicines to address acute and chronic illnesses of children, but also to produce formulations of essential medicines to optimize stability, bioavailability, palatability, cost, accurate dosing and adherence. This, in turn, requires an understanding of the social ecologies in which treatment occurs. Understanding health worker, caregiver and patient practices, limitations, and expectations with regard to medicines is crucial to guiding effective drug development and administration. Using literature on pediatric tuberculosis as a reference, this review highlights sociocultural, pharmacological, and structural barriers that impede the delivery of medicines to children. It serves as a basis for the development of an intensive survey of patient, caregiver, and health care worker understandings of, and preferences for, pediatric formulations in three East African countries.

To Tibetans life does not begin at birth, but rather at conception. After death, a being’s consciousness… wanders in an intermediate realm until impelled by the forces of its own karma to enter a womb at the instant of conception. Gestation is a hazardous time when women try to consume foods and seek spiritual means to prevent any harm coming to their growing baby. Once born, the child must fight for survival against daunting odds. Infancy is fraught with more hazards than any other stage of the life course, and the infant mortality rate in Nubri is frightfully high. Nearly one in every four children born alive does not live to see his or her first birthday. (Childs 2004: 38)

The article reviews the book "Their Footprints Remain: Biomedical Beginnings Across the Indo-Tibetan Frontier," by Alex McKay.