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Herbal Medicine

Tamara uses Kampo style herbs in her practice, which she prescribes based upon different diagnostic techniques, but primarily by abdominal presentaion. "Treat what you find, not what you think" was a common phrase often heard while learning the medicine by her instructors. For acute conditions, herbs are prescribed for a short duration, perhaps 1-3 days. For more lingering or chronic conditions, a longer duration of herbs may be prescribed. The formulas can be taken as granules,  in warm water, capsules or tablets, or even raw that will then need to be cooked in water or decocted, and then strained and taken as a liquid. 


Kampō medicine (漢方医学 Kanpō igaku), is the study and further development of Chinese Herbal Medicine in Japan. While Kampo is often thought to be Chinese medicine, in actuality Kampo points to the medical practice that was originally brought to Japan from China around 5th -6th century, which then underwent unique developments within Japan. The word Kampo itself was created in Japan during the Edo period to distinguish from "Ranpo," or western science, which had originated from the Netherlands. After undergoing numerous arrangements and modifications, Kampo has become an independent system from the traditional Chinese medicine on multiple grounds, including examination methods and the prescription of medicine.


The three principles that guided the development of Kampo were simplicity, prevention, and safety. To simplify the canon, 365 remedies were selected from the 16,834 remedies taught in China. Since Japanese Buddhist monks were vegetarians, formulas containing animal products were excluded from early attempts to adapt Chinese herbal medicine to Japan. The 365 remedies were divided into three classes, according to the intrinsic value attributed to them.

The most valued remedies were those that were the safest and prevented disease in order to prolong life. The 120 remedies called Joyaku (upper class or most valuable medicine), are all preventive medicines. These remedies have minimal to no side effects and are meant to be taken for long periods of time.


There are 120 Chuyaku remedies (middle class medicine), which were used after an acute illness to regenerate energy and prevent recurrences and lingering debility. The underlying idea is that a person’s constitution influences the types of diseases that affect them. This prefigures the contemporary idea of genetic influences on a person’s risk for disease. Chuyaku sometimes causes side effects and should not be used for too long.


Finally there are 125 Shimoyaku (lower class or least valuable medicine), which are used to treat acute and chronic diseases. Ironically, the bulk of contemporary allopathic medicines would fall into the class Kampo practitioners consider to have the least value. Shimoyaku usually causes side effects, and should only be taken for a short period of time.

Dawn - Jean-Yves Thibaudet
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