Healing vs. Curing

As a future health care professional, I want to be aware of biomedicine limitations and the benefits of understanding other forms of medicine practice in this case Kanpo. Kanpo treatment is composed of many attributes, but it is in great part, herbal medicine, which I personally find quite fascinating. To think that a “cure” or aide can be found in the leaves or roots of plants! I can’t but awe at the power and completeness of nature…

Culture and Illness by Emiko Ohunuki-Tierney carefully explained the differences between Kanpo(漢方薬), Japanese Traditional Medicine (derived from Chinese medicine) and biomedicine. One of the main differences between the two is the that while biomedicine specifically focuses on the pathogen, Kanpo places a great importance to the Etiology, or the circumstances that lead to the susceptibility of the patient to contract an illness/disease, such as humoral imbalances and this includes climatic conditions in general (weather patterns, environment factors and surroundings). And this is where we can establish a direct link between Kanpo Medicine and the Environment. For example, Kaze (風)or wind (really any sort of breeze) is said to be the one of the main components of most illness, how then does the issues with Air pollution affect people’s susceptibility to illness?

We were able to establish several binaries:

illness vs. disease; treating imbalance vs. treating pathogen; chronic illness vs. acute illness; correlative thinking vs. magic-bullet thinking; body as homeostatic system vs. body as discrete parts; treatment vs. diagnosis: ==== healing vs. curing. 

Today’s discussion of Kanpo(漢方薬)cultivated my understanding of Japanese culture, especially the significance of the genkan (玄関)and the Japanese notions of purity and impurity and their relation to Japan’s creation myth, the Kojiki.

Some of the questions I’d like to ask the Kanpo sensei we are meeting SOON next week are: What are some of the questions that you ask your patients in the diagnostic process? With what kind of illness are people approaching Kanpo? Environmental?  Is there Kanpo formulas that treat environmental diseases such as Kawasaki Disease, Minamata Disease, Yokkaichi Asthma etc? Is there a reaction of health care systems, particularly Kanpo Medicine, to the environmental health problems in Japan. If there is―what sorts if initiatives have been set into motion? Is Kanpo widely used among all demographics in Japan (young/old, rural/urban citizens, etc)? Is there Kampo campaigns that promote the well-being of the environment? 


With Julian’s presentation and a brief history of Aquariums, I am anxious to see how Tokyo Sea Life Park is attempting to blur the line between the natural world, the ocean, and humans, and actually promote the marine life conservation and education of patrons.