Welcome to the Kampo UK’s ongoing exciting project, “Ask a Kampo Doctor!”! In this project, a number of great Kampo doctors and Kampo specialists from different countries are interviewed about their first hand experiences of Kampo medicine in their clinical practices. Hoping that this will be a great space to learn and be inspired about traditional Japanese medicine, Kampo Igaku 漢方医学.
Our Today’s guest is a Kampo doctor in private practice in São Paulo, Brazil, Dr. Kazusei Akiyama! He introduced Kampo Medicine in Brazil in 1995, and since then has been spreading the knowledge of Kampo Medicine within the Brazilian society.
Kampo UK: What was the inspiration for you to start using Kampo in your practice?
Dr. Akiyama: I entered medical school in the 1980’s when super-specialisation was overly admired. Being a medical student in such a trend, I majored in the science of surgery. However, I started having doubts on the idea of finer specialisation and became more interested in holistic medicine. Around that time, my father was diagnosed with cancer and received anticancer treatments. Therefore, I searched what can be done to alleviate the side effects of the anticancer treatments, and what else is available to treat his condition beside the anticancer treatments. What I came across was Oriental Medicine.
Kampo UK: What are the most common conditions/illness for which you use Kampo to treat in your practice?
Dr. Akiyama: I run a private medical clinic in São Paulo, and there are two kinds of medical practice in the clinic. One of them is general internal medicine, which I mostly see Japanese expatriates residing in São Paulo. The other is the practice of oriental medicine. The former is a community heath care so I use Kampo herbal medicine for diseases commonly seen like a cold, diarrhoea and other acute conditions alongside western medications. In the later, many of my patients suffer from intractable diseases. There are a lot of painful conditions, such as chronic fatigue syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis.
Kampo UK: What was the most memorable case throughout your entire practice of Kampo?
Dr. Akiyama: A female patient came for a consultation asking help for her infertility. She had been going through fertility treatments at a hospital for the past two years prior to her visit to my clinic. I diagnosed her condition as Suidoku which could be described as “a flooding condition”. Based on my diagnosis, I prescribed her with a water moderating formula, and she got pregnant after 2 months of taking this Kampo formula. I clearly remember that both she and I were surprised and happy with the speedy outcome then. This case reconfirmed for me the importance of diagnosing the patient’s Sho (patterns of Kampo). (Year 2000)
Kampo UK: Could you share one memorable experience with Kampo that it did not work as well as you would have liked?
Dr. Akiyama: A memorable experience I would like to share here is not that Kampo itself wasn’t effective. It was the case that I could not continue to give a Kampo treatment to a patient because little information on the Kampo medicine was/is available in western countries.
A 62 years old female patient developed Chronic Myeloid Leukemia and was receiving chemotherapy. She had started imanitib about forty days before she came to see me. The reason for her visit to me was that she was suffering from swelling, back pain, abdominal pain, muscle cramps and tiredness as side effects of the medication. I prescribed her with a Kampo extract, and a week later in a follow-up session, she presented great improvements. However, her oncologist strongly opposed to the use of Kampo and therefore, I reluctantly had to stop the Kampo treatment. I really felt frustrated then.
I explained to the oncologist that the Kampo I prescribed to the patient would not require liver metabolism considering that there is frequent development of impaired liver functions when taking the above anticancer medication. However, the oncologist kept his stance to disagree the use of Kampo saying , “I have never heard of Kampo.” At the end, I entrusted to the patient whether she would like to continue the Kampo medicine or not. She regrettably had to stop it. (Year 2009)
Kampo UK: What is the most important lifestyle advice you give patients to maintain good health?
Dr. Akiyama: Have regular and balanced meals. In addition, it is important to choose good quality and seasonal foods.
Kampo UK: Thank you for the valuable stories!
About Dr. Kazusei Akiyama, MD, MPH, PhD
1989: Graduated in Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
1990-1995: Research Fellow, First Department, The Research Institute of Oriental Medicine, Kinki University, Osaka, Japan
1997~ Foreign Fellow, The Japan Society for Oriental Medicine
1999: Master of Public Health, School of Medicine, Federal University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
2004: Doctor of Science (Preventive Medicine), Faculty of Medicine, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
2013~2015: External Relations Committee Member, The Japan Society for Oriental Medicine
1995~ Private Practice, General Practitioner, São Paulo, Brazil
Kazusei Akiyama, MD, MPH, PhD
Consultório Kazusei Akiyama
Address: Rua Cubatão, 86 #1101 – São Paulo SP – 04013-000 Brazil
Web site: http://www.akiyama.med.br
Translation by Atsuko Fritz
(The original in Japanese)