I am excited to write this blog about Traditional Herbal Medicine. I have just returned from Santa Fe, where I have been traveling & studying for 2 years to complete my post-graduate work in Japanese Kampo Herbal Medicine Training.
My interest in natural medicines for healing started while I was obtaining my nursing degree years ago & has continued & developed into a passion for me. During my time as a western practitioner, I was sometimes frustrated by the lack of options for some of the most common ailments. Traditional Herbal Medicines open up increased choices for healing & with their limited side effects when they are used properly, it is hard not to use them alone or in conjunction with other remedies.
At this point I hope I have intrigued you enough to ask what is Kampo & Traditional Herbal Medicine? Traditional Medicine is a comprehensive system of healthcare with its own theoretical basis and practical experience. Kampo Herbal Medicine, Acupuncture, and other non-drug therapies are part of this system. Kampo has a long history of use dating back to the Edo period (1600’s). Kampo is becoming more popular because this form of medicine is useful in treating conditions that have limited treatments in Western medicine (or as an adjunct to them). In the Japanese system of healthcare, these remedies are used & prescribed along with Western medicines. Most Kampo practitioners are medical doctors in Japan & Kampo is a fully recognized specialty of medicine there.
Interest & demand for Kampo & Traditional Medicine is rising globally. The opioid crisis our country is facing is one example of the frustrating limitations we have in treating chronic pain without ruining patient’s lives with the deadly side effect of addiction. Many doctors are left to throw up their hands with certain skin conditions. Because after diagnosing them they are left with few options for treatment. Another example is Cancer. Even though Kampo therapy would not treat cancer it can significantly improve quality of life in improving immunity, increasing appetite, & helping prevent relapse. There are many examples of how I am using this effective medicine in my clinic & my patients are finding new levels of health & freedom from many ailments.
Like Western treatments Kampo has it’s own way of diagnosing, treating, & following patients. In Kampo, we are very interested in the symptoms that accompany a presenting problem. Often all those seemingly odd questions you find us asking are teasing out subtle differences in formulas. Kampo Medicine diagnosis is very focused on the Hara or abdominal exam. This diagnostic tool allows the practitioner to closely follow how a formula is changing the internal environment the herbs are trying to influence. For example, an emptiness below the navel might indicate some Kidney deficiency or pulsations in the abdomen might indicate the pathology for certain types of headaches. Kampo Herbal Medicine, like acupuncture, is less concerned with the name of the diagnoses & more concerned with how those symptoms, your constitution, your pulse, tongue, & abdomen form a particular treatable pattern. Sometimes patterns can be influenced quickly as in a cold or flu. But realistically Kampo & acupuncture brings about change more slowly, producing a more enduring wellness pattern. Slow and steady wins the race they say and with Kampo it’s very true!
Hope to see you soon!