The first teacher of Tibetan medicine pointed out that all beings desire happiness and seek to avoid suffering, and that the causes and conditions of disease arise out of this desire/avoidance tendency. While the energies may be out of balance and impeded in their flow due to poor diet, emotional shock or trauma, fatigue, tension, over-work, exposure to bad weather, micro-organisms as well as spiritual, immediate and remote, all these causes can be traced to the "three poisons" -- that is, desire, hatred and ignorance -- which arise from self-grasping. Ultimately the causes of disease can be traced specifically to primordial ignorance (that is, seeing the self and things in a way in which they do not really exist), which generates mental states leading to rebirth and to the causes and conditions of disease.
Tibetan medicine is a vast and eminently "holistic" or "complementary" healing system in which the human body is considered to be based on the "five cosmic energies" (space, air, fire, water, earth). The biological intermediaries of these five are called the "three humors," wind, bile and phlegm, which govern the functions of the body (rlung, tripa, badkan, in the Tibetan construct). Each of these three is considered to be a sort of energy or force, which circulates through the different channels, organs, tissues and coordinating centers of the body. These 3 energies are further divided into 15 different energies, 5 of each and has the potency to cause disease when out of balance.
Herbal supplements are given to correct any imbalances that are found and to remove impediments to energetic flow. Recommendations for changing diet and lifestyle are also given. In some cases moxabustion and acupuncture is used to add heat and circulation.
Together these methods work to optimize the energetics of the body and mind, enabling them to heal themselves.