The Fifteen Humoral Energies (Nyépa)

In the Tibetan sciences, it is identified that all compounded phenomena are composed of the Five Elements (Water/fluidity, Earth/solidity, Fire/warmth, Wind/motility, and Space). The body is no exception to this rule. 


In traditional physiology, the functions of the body are attributed to elemental energies known as the Three Nyépa, or humoral energies. These three humors are echoed in the Ayurvedic tradition, though influence from Traditional Greek Medicine produced a second enumeration of humors in TTM with Blood (Trak) presented as a fourth humoral energy.

In the three-humor model, the Three Nyépa are rLung (Loong, rlung), which is often translated as "wind," Tripa (Treepa, mkhris pa), which is translated as "bile," and Pekén (pey-kén, bad kan), which is often translated as "phlegm." While these physical substances do bear a connection with the Three Nyépa, it would be reductive to state that they are analogous. For this reason, we will avoid using these terms whenever possible.

In regards to the elemental composition of the Three Nyépa:

  • rLung is composed of the Air element

  • Tripa is composed of the Fire element

  • Pekén is composed of the Earth and Water elements.

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These three humors are present in both the healthy and diseased body, and have vital roles in our physiological function. Sowa Rigpa identifies 15 individual categories of the Three Nyépa, each energy holding a particular physiological function in the healthy body. When these energies become imbalanced, they can "attack" the organism and create imbalance in the bodily constituents, excretions, organs, and mental state. 

Broadly speaking, the rLung, Tripa, and Pekén energies can be understood to have the following qualities and functions:











  • Movement

  • Respiration

  • Smooth flow of bodily constituents

  • Removal of waste products

  • Sharp sensory function




  • Produces hunger and thirst

  • Major role in digestion 

  • Sharpens intellect & determination

  • Maintains body heat











  • Produces stability of body and mind  

  • Induces sleep

  • Connects joints

  • Promotes tolerance 

  • Smoothes & lubricates body








But to better understand the functional scope of the Three Nyépa, it's helpful to understand the 15 major humoral energies and their chief physiological functions:

Five rLung Energies
  1. སྲོག་འཛིན་རླུང། Life-Sustaining rLung

    • Supports action of other four rLung energies.

    • Facilitates neurological function and memory.

  2. གྱེན་རྒྱུ་རླུང། Ascending rLung

    • Moves breath and speech up from the chest through the throat and vocal cords.

    • Responsible for respiration.

  3. ཁྱབ་བྱེད་རླུང། Pervasive rLung 

    • Located in the heart, powers circulation and cardiac function.

    • Involved in all body movement, including opening and closing of orifices, and extension/retraction of limbs.

  4. མེ་མཉམ་རླུང། Fire-Accompanying rLung

    • Located in the GI tract, supports digestion and distribution of nutriment.

    • Acts as a bellows for our metabolic fire.

  5. ཐུར་སེལ་རླུང། Descending rLung

    • Located in the pelvic region.

    • Facilitates urination, menstruation, ejaculation, defecation, and labor. 

    • Involved in the formation of a fetus.

Five Tripa Energies
  1. འཇུ་བྱེད་མཁྲིས་པ། Digestive Tripa

    • Located in GI tract, acts as the main "cooking" agent in digestion. 

    •  Supports the heat of other Tripa energies.

  2. མདངས་སྒྱུར་མཁྲིས་པ། Color-Changing Tripa

    • Transforms nutritional essence (chyle) into nutrient-rich blood in the liver.

  3. སྒྲུབ་བྱེད་མཁྲིས་པ། Accomplishing Tripa

    • Located in the heart - produces sense of determination and ego-assertion. 

  4. མཐོང་བྱེད་མཁྲིས་པ། Sight-Producing Tripa

    • Located in the eyes, produces sight.

  5. མདོག་གསལ་མཁྲིས་པ། Complexion-Clearing Tripa

    • Located in the skin, this energy clears our complexion and regulates warmth in the outer body.

Five Pekén Energies
  1. རྟེན་བྱེད་བད་ཀན། Supporting Pekén

    • Supports the activities of the other four Pekén energies.

    • Connected with endocrine and lymphatic systems.

  2. མྱག་བྱེད་བད་ཀན། Decomposing Pekén

    • Breaks down and mixes foods and beverages in the early ​​stages of the digestion process.

  3. མྱོང་བྱེད་བད་ཀན། Tasting Pekén

    • Located in the tongue, this energy facilitates the experience of taste.

  4. ཚིམ་བྱེད་བད་ཀན། Satisfying Pekén

    • Located in the head, facilitates experiences of the six sense consciousnesses. 

    • Particularly associated with the feeling of satisfaction.

  5. འབྱོར་བྱེད་བད་ཀན། Connecting Pekén

    • Located in the joints - provides lubrication and encourages healthy flexibility & movement.  

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