Tamdin said that modern medicine treats symptoms, but said a patient will never get better if they fail to attend to psychological issues.
"If one does not gain this understanding of selflessness, they won't be able to overcome their ignorance," he said. "One way to look at it is to watch the bird and its shadow. It may fly and fly high into the sky, but it continues to leave a shadow on the surface of Earth. As long as you have ignorance within you -- even though you are enjoying good health -- there is always a shadow of sickness falling upon you. From this ignorance arises three mental poisons: attachment, hatred and dilution." All those will affect energy, he said.
In addition to actual medicine and dietary changes, a Tibetan doctor may also prescribe the patient practice more kindness and compassion toward others -- or that they practice more compassion meditation.
Western medicine is reluctant to accept the Tibetan medical idea that some unexplained illnesses may ultimately be caused by someone's karma or even by evil spirits. The language Tibetan doctors use to suggest that good health is based on the balance of bile, phlegm and wind may seem a little too foreign to modern medicine practitioners.
But the holistic approach to a patient's health -- treatments that involve diet, behavior, prescription of medicine and contemplative practices -- may continue to appeal to physicians after they see demonstrated proof that these kind of therapies work.
"The Tibetan tradition has evolved over 2,500 years," Negi said. "It has a rich tradition that has helped the health of people for many many years.
"His holiness the Dalai Lama was the first to say that these things we believe in should be subjected to scientific tools so we could better understand the human condition overall and help us to better deal with the situation of our own well-being."