Gretchen De Soriano
12 October 2017
Our introduction to Kampo’ s Textbook of traditional Japanese Medicine
KampoUK is pleased to be among the first invited to post this Kampo Textbook of modern medicine, made possible through the generosity of the authors, and the JSOM. This 2017 text is a comprehensive overview of Japan’s China-origin medicine and practices, collectively known as Kampo, and is made possible through the funding of a Japanese Health and Labour Sciences Research Grant . The text is newly complied and its many authors are among the best known in the Kampo field. The modality of composing a text through the collective workmanship of peers and colleagues has a long history in Japan and the process gives the textual authenticity, while at the same time not neglecting Kampo’s multiple practices. This allows the text material to employ a wide lens on a topic which the west has narrowly labelled “Chinese Medicine”. Part One covers the material medicines, namely the pills, decoctions, ointments and ingredients of Japanese Kampo. Part Two is a separate document on acupuncture and moxabustion.
The introductory passages of Part One present this millennium’s challenge: “where to position these medicines in the context of global healthcare”. The World Health Organisation, WHO, seeks to be informed as a neutral party. Anthropologists and historians tell us that a myriad of influences and folk practices melted together in East Asian and were written in the lingua franca, Chinese. Current scholars of materiality – books and materia medica – trace the roots of the various ingredients and publications which were previously identified as of Chinese origin. Collectively these scholars show that China was as much a receiver of knowledge as it was a disseminator. The WHO seeks to give each authentic contributor of global healthcare a voice, and this text, presents the authentic voice of Japan.
Part 1 introduces brews and medications of Japanese Kampo using the modern Japanese language term, Wakan-Yaku 和漢薬. Japanese language and kanji are used exclusively to name formula and ingredients; this need not be a hinderance due to charts such as those on p208 listing common English ingredient names alongside Japanese and kanji. The final pages, 320-323, contain a formula index (listed according to the Japanese alphabet) and this could be printed as a reading reference. There is care taken to lay out historical developments within Japan which have shaped medicine and its paradigms, including early publications on abdominal examination. Kampo’s diagnostic procedures are extensively detailed, including the abdominal exam. The concept of “ethical Kampo ” from page 32 puts into context the extensive research on pharmaceutical actions and drug interactions which cover a large part of the final sections.
Part 2 is devoted to acupuncture and moxabustion. The references to acupuncture notations are easy to follow, employing the acu-point name alongside an international notation system which abbreviates the meridian names and numbers the points, for example ” san li ST36″. Opening with an extensive historical review, Chapter one reveals new texts being examined from Japan’s earliest records and ending with the Meiji reforms. Along the way, these new texts rewrite the history of the first use of the needle guide tube which has long been attributed Waichi Sugiyama (page 9). Chapter two covers a wide spectrum of therapeutic affects of both acupuncture and moxabustion, assessed using brain sciences, MRI with quantitive and qualitative measures . Chapter three details representative systems of Japan’s acupuncture and moxabustion, under the title Meredian therapy using the Sho as a standard tool. This section plots how the variations in the standard Sho diagnosis diverged into different practice patterns since it’s inception in 1940. The final section is devoted to moxabustion, including the use of permeating heat, and treatments using heat perception.