Episode #42 Philosophies of Tibetan Medicine with Leslie Blackhall, MD

Body of Wonder Podcast Join us for an enlightening conversation with the esteemed Tibetan Medicine expert, Dr. Leslie Blackhall. Currently the Section Head for Palliative Care at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, Dr. Blackhall is a nationally recognized expert with pioneering work in bioethics, spirituality and medicine, and palliative care.

Tibetan Medicine is an intricate practice that blends herbalism, spirituality, and holistic well-being. This ancient system was developed in Tibet and is based on Buddhist philosophy.

On this episode, Dr. Blackhall sheds light on its core principles and their significance in the modern world including the interplay between mind, body, and spirit.

Drs. Weil, Maizes, and Blackhall discuss how Tibetan Medicine practices align with the whole-person view of health and how they can contribute to a more harmonious life.

This conversation promises to broaden your perspectives on what it means to live well.  

Please note, the show will not advise, diagnose, or treat medical conditions. Always seek the advice of your physician or healthcare provider for questions regarding your health.

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Andrew Weil, MD and Victoria Maizes, MD


Leslie Blackhall

Dr. Leslie Blackhall is a graduate of Yale University and the New York University School of Medicine. She currently serves as the Section Head for Palliative Care at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and is a nationally known expert on end-of-life care. She was called to this work as a medical student in the 1980s when she witnessed the reductive and often dehumanizing ways seriously ill and dying patients were treated. Her search for alternative approaches led her to Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan Medicine. She was awarded a fellowship in Philosophy and Medicine during her first year of medical school to compare Tibetan and Western views on health and illness. She furthered her studies in Tibetan Medicine in the US at the American Institute of Buddhist Studies, with Dr. Yeshe Donden (the Dalai Lama's personal physician) and Dr. Robert Thurman and in Dr. Donden's clinic in Dharamsala, India. Following medical residency Dr. Blackhall received a Masters in Theologic Studies at Harvard Divinity School where she studied medical anthropology, the history of medicine, bioethics and Tibetan language. Her career went on to include pioneering work in bioethics, spirituality and medicine, and palliative care. At the University of Virginia, she leads one of the most prominent palliative care programs in the country. In addition, she has served as a core faculty member for the Art of Dying Conferences (started in 2001 by Tibet House and The New York Open Center) and for the Open Center's Integrative Thanatology Certificate Program. More recently she has been working with the largest group of Tibetan Physicians in China. She and her Tibetan colleagues have worked to develop a dialogue between Tibetan traditional physicians and biomedical clinicians regarding end of life and palliative care. Their work together has included seminars on Tibetan medicine at the University of Virginia, and a book chapter comparing Tibetan and Western understandings of death and dying in the Handbook of Thanatology.

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