The Textbook of Traditional Japanese Medicine Online Publication in English and Japanese

日本伝統医学テキスト The Textbook of Traditional Japanese Medicine (click here)

CherryIn the West, while the popularity of Traditional Japanese Medicine (Kampo and Acupuncture) is on the rise, availability of educational/informational resources on the subject is still limited.

Today, I feel privileged to introduce, the “Textbook of Traditional Japanese Medicine (Kampo and Acupuncture)” online publication in English and Japanese, thanks to the principle researcher, Prof. Makoto Arai, Department of Kampo Medicine, Tokai University School of Medicine, Japan, who made this publication available for public viewing. As you will see, a great number of eminent Japanese Kampo specialists and Japanese acupuncture specialists contributed to the textbook, which was the Japanese government funded project.

『The contents are research products of “Research on the standardisation of traditional Japanese medicine promoting integrated medicine (Principal Investigator; Makoto Arai)” subsidised by the Health and Labour Sciences Research Grant 2010-2011, Japan.』

I am sure that the textbook will be useful for English (and Japanese) speaking people who are interested in Traditional Japanese Medicine.

Tongue Diagnosis

Tangue Diagnosis

Tangue Diagnosis

When you visit an acupuncturist, he or she will likely ask to look at your tongue, and patients often become embarrassed and say, “Oh, I should have brushed my tongue…”

Please don’t!

Tongue diagnosis is one of the important diagnostic methods in oriental medicines, and an acupuncturist can gather quite a bit of information about you and your conditions by observing your tongue, such as its colour, shape, cracks and coating.

In general, a red tongue indicates you might have some kind of heat in the body, and red at the tip of the tongue can indicate that you are under stress or maybe anxious about something.  On the other hand, a pale tongue suggests your energy, Qi, or blood may be on the lower side, or the presence of cold in the body.  Your immune system might be weak, and you could be susceptible to infectious illness, such as a cold.

If your tongue looks puffy and swollen, you may be experiencing some problems with your digestion and may be retaining fluids in some part in your body.  It is also quite common to see a tongue with scalloped or teeth-marked edges.  This can indicate that your energy, Qi, is weak and that you may be leading a hectic and busy life, feeling tired and not getting enough time to relax.

The coating of the tongue can indicate the state of the stomach and other various acute conditions you might have.  For example, if the coating in the centre of the tongue is thick yellow and dry, you may be experiencing stomach pains, bad breath, or a feeling of always being hungry.

So then, what is a ‘normal’ tongue?  It should be pale red, not too thin and not too swollen, and with no teeth marks.  Also, the coating should be close to none or thin and white, and slightly moist, not dry.

The conditions of your tongue change as your health changes, but in general the changes appear on the tongue more slowly (except a high fever developing from colds or a flu can create a very red tongue fairly quickly).  In other words, the appearance of your tongue can suggest that certain health conditions might have been in the body for a long time.

When you visit an acupuncturist, it’s important to refrain from certain foods and drinks a few hours before your appointment.  Certain foods such as curry, tomato ketchup, coffee, and tea may stain your tongue and make it difficult for your acupuncturist to make a proper diagnosis.

Get your tongue looked at and have regular acupuncture!  It is a safe, drug-free, and great way to maintain your well-being and for longevity.

Go with the Flow: Acupuncture for Painful Periods

Acupuncture SANYINJIAO SP-6As an acupuncturist, and when I ask women questions about a menstrual period; I often hear… “I have a terribly painful period but think it is normal…everyone seems to have…  I just take a couple of pain killer tablets and deal with it”

This lower abdominal period pain can often be accompanied by lower back pain, tender breasts, moodiness, tearfulness, nausea, diarrhoea or constipation, and also headaches.   Do these sound familiar to you?   If yes, good news is that acupuncture can help clear or alleviate these symptoms.

Let’s look at how traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) views a menstrual period, and a painful period.  First of all, menstruation blood is called Tian Gui, or Heavenly Water for women.   Ancient practitioners believed that menstruation blood is different from the regular blood which circulates in the body.  In fact, Heavenly Water is considered Essence, the vital energy and allows women to conceive.  As the name suggests, menstruation is more precious than just a monthly discharge.

Our Heavenly Water depends on a smooth flow of energy, Qi and blood in the uterus.  In other words, the period pain is caused by some kind of impediment of Qi and blood in the uterus, and this stagnation can bring on other disturbances, such as those mentioned above.  In TCM, these signs of imbalance are identified as stagnation of Liver Qi, which is responsible for the balanced and smooth flow of Qi in the whole body.

When the Liver Qi stagnates in women, not only the period pain and other disturbances, but also emotions get congested.  The body sometimes attempts to clear this congestion and stagnation through outbursts of anger or crying in some women.  Interestingly, TCM considers that anger is one of the emotions that is associated with the Liver, with tears being considered the fluids of the Liver.

Acupuncture is effective in getting things moving smoothly in the uterus and harmonising the menstrual periods.  Depending on their root cause, in addition to acupuncture, some diet change, heat therapy, (Moxibustion), light exercises and Kampo – Japanese herbal medicine may be used and/or suggested.

Acupuncture may be your solution to go with the smooth FLOW!

Self-Care Suggestions for Heavenly Water Period

  • Gently massage the lower abdomen with warm castor oil.
  • Apply pressure for 3 ~ 5 minutes a few times a day to the acu-point called Three Yin Intersection or San Yin Jiao (三陰交), which is located on the inside the lower leg, about four finger widths above the knobly ankle bone, and close to the bone (see the photo above).  This point encourages the flow of Spleen, Liver, and Kidney Qi benefitting Heavenly Water.
  • Learn some gentle yoga poses to encourage Qi flow to the abdominal and lower back areas.
  • Avoid consuming excessive amounts of coffee, alcohol, red meats, spicy foods, sweets, greasy foods, and dairy foods.   
  • Avoid cold foods, drinks, raw and frozen foods.
  • Eat green leafy vegetables, fish, eggs, poultry, and raisins.
  • Avoid swimming.
  • Do not walk around on cold floors in bare feet.
  • Talk to someone about your feelings


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