Medicine Buddha and the Three Poisons

written by Glynnis
12 May, 2016
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This week while teaching Aromatherapy at The Vancouver School of Bodywork and Massage (VSBM), we had the opportunity to listen during an aromatic compress treatment to the Medicine Buddha Chant.

A student commented how profoundly healing and soothing that felt while receiving her treatment (we were working with a blend of ginger, fennel, lemon, and clary sage).


It made me think more about the Medicine Buddha, this benevolent healer known as our enlightened essence. This means at our most awakened we are our own healers. In our highest consciousness we affect our health and wellbeing.

This includes the wisdom to choose the right methods and medicines as well as and especially the most enlightened mental attitude towards our own healing.

With the help of some powerful and simple healing Ayurvedic herbs we can restore ourselves to health and use these plant medicines as a catalyst for ongoing vitality and longevity.

In the right hand The Medicine Buddha is holding out as an offering the sacred Chebulic myrobalan plant. This is known as haritaki and is one of the three ingredients in triphala, the Ayurvedic ‘Mother of Medicines’

The revered Haritaki by itself is a powerful medicine and one of the best herbs for balancing Vata.

It acts as a gentle cleanser, removing accumulated toxins in the digestive tract. It is a restorative herb, nourishing and rejuvenating the tissues while maintaining regular elimination. It is the base of many medicines used in rasayana/restorative Ayurvedic therapies.



Chebulic myrobalan or Terminalia chebula – Haritaki
Best herb for balancing Vata, gentle digestive cleanser, restores healthy digestion.

Beleric myrobalan Bibhitaki
Reduces accumulation in lungs, supports proper function of kidneys liver, heart. Reduces Kapha.

Emblic myrobalan – Amalaki
Potent rejuvenative that gently removes toxins and nourishes the tissues. Balancing to Pitta.

TriphalaWe could all use a little help with a positive healing trajectory. This restorative triad is known as a tridoshic rasayana, having balancing and rejuvenating effects on the three constitutional elements of mind, body, and spirit: Vata which regulates the nervous system, Pitta which maintains metabolic processes, and Kapha which supports structural integrity.

This means we can take triphala as a daily tonic and benefit from the main actions of detoxification, rejuvenation and longevity. The three fruits are known antioxidants and work to cleanse, restore and maintain the health of the digestive tract.


Of all it’s benefits, I was most excited and intrigued to learn of the mystical qualities of haritaki through the profound message of the Medicine Buddha: The root origin of all illness is known as the ‘three mental poisons’ of ignorance, attachment, and aversion. These are considered to be the cause of all suffering and disease.

In Tibetan Medicine and Ayurveda the healing of the afflictions of the mind are of primary importance for an enlightened recovery from disease. The mind is where we begin to eliminate theses poisons and cure all ailments.

The Medicine Buddha is offering the healing fruit of haritaki knowing that this is an herb for raising consciousness. In other words this is our healing at the highest level. It has been said that haritaki along with the power of repetitive sound through mantra and the power of meditative practice, is the only herb in the Tibetan pharmacopoeia that can aid in healing each of these three types of diseases of the mind.

That seems like a big job for a small fruit that looks more like a shriveled plum than the golden chalice of Universal healing but I’m willing to put my faith in the plant medicines and ancient wisdoms of Ayurveda and the Medicine Buddha’s rays of spiritualized medicine.

Detoxification, rejuvenation, longevity? Yes please!


Banyan Botanicals

Organic Traditions

What is your experience with botanical mind medicine? We would love to hear your thoughts and questions in the comments below!

May your healing journey be lit by the awakened consciousness of your own Medicine Buddha!

With Fragrant Blessings,
Glynn and Mel xox

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