The history of Tibetan medicine's development provides an excellent model for planning the appropriate utilisation of 'foreign' medical systems and traditions within a new culture that incorporates progressive approaches for the use of both medical pluralism and integration. This history takes on increasing relevance in the modern world as the practice of Tibetan medicine and other forms of traditional Asian medicine have been spreading in the West where they have been faced with commoditisation and the hegemony of biomedicine. In the face of modern globalization, certain key questions have yet to be sufficiently addressed. How can systems of traditional Asian medicine be incorporated into western cultures in a manner that permits them to contribute to our understanding of health and disease while allowing them to retain their own integrity? How can they be utilised to aid in the solution of public health problems that exist in the West? What should be the proper interaction between traditional Asian medical systems (e.g., Tibetan medicine) and biomedicine? To determine the answer to these and other vital questions, we must take into account the many cultural, political, economic and scientific issues that affect the state of both public health and individual healthcare.
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