Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been around for centuries. It has a history of about 3,000 years, dating back to the early Zhou Dynasty, and is incorporated into the current Chinese medical system. Traditional practices use plants, animals, and minerals. It explores the subtleties between yin and yang (opposite but interconnected forces said to be at the heart of all creation) to prevent disease and maintain health. It works on the principle of maintaining a good balance. Chinese medicine was born in China and is now widely practiced, including in Japan.
Chinese medicine has long been thought to have been introduced to Japan by the monk Ganjin or Jianjin, who visited Japan in the 8th century.th century to invite two Japanese priests to spread the teachings of Buddhism. Born in Yangzhou, the monk Jianzhen was well-versed in Chinese medicine and well-versed in Buddhism. When he came to Japan in 753 A.D., he brought with him 36 kinds of herbal medicines with different pharmacological effects, and it is said that he had compound prescriptions to treat various diseases. There is still debate as to whether Ganshin transmitted pharmacological and medical knowledge along with Buddhist teachings, thereby influencing existing traditional Japanese medicine.
Now, researchers in Japan and China, led by Professor Toshihiko Matsuo of the Okayama University Graduate School of Medical Systems Science and Engineering, have looked at available Chinese, Japanese, and English literature to shed light on this long-standing mystery. We researched extensively. . The research team is comprised of former Okayama University assistant professor Liu Zhihui, visiting researcher Chie Matsuo, and Okayama University’s senior assistant professor Takumi Abe. Their paper, published in the journal Compounds on October 18, 2022, provides a fascinating insight into Ganjin’s life as seen through the lens of his ethnopharmacological knowledge.
When Ganjin traveled to Japan, he collected and brought back things he found along the way, insignificant things such as stalactites and snowflakes (components of TCM), as well as traditional items such as musk, agarwood, snails, pine resin, and dipterocarp. Materials were also brought from China. , fragrant bile, benzoin, incense, Dutchman’s pipe root, Pistacia lentiscus, Piper longum, Terminaria chebura/haritaki, asafoetida, sugar, sucrose, honey 10 bushels, sugar cane 80 bunches. In their paper, researchers examine 36 types of Chinese herbal medicines brought to Japan and their therapeutic effects. According to local legend, Ganjin carried with him a book called “The Secret Prescriptions of the Holy Monk Ganjin,” which had been lost for centuries. The research team also reported that they were able to track down copies of other books containing the same prescriptions.
Most interestingly, their findings indicate that Ganjin’s prescriptions form the basis of herbal medicine in Japan, popularized under the name Kampo. The medical practice of herbal medicine is deeply embedded in the structure of Japan’s current medical system. Chinese herbal medicine is prescribed along with Western medicine and modern medicine, and is covered by the National Health Insurance.
“People in Japan can purchase herbal medicines as over-the-counter medicines at pharmacies. This unique Japanese system derives from a long history of systematic prescription of herbal medicines, with its origins in the prescriptions of Ganjin in the 8th century. ”, he considers. Professor Matsuo is very excited.
We hope that Chinese herbal medicine will spread beyond Japan. “People in other countries also have the opportunity to use Chinese herbal medicine in combination with Western medicine.” His inspiration for saying this is probably also Jianjin. “Janjin was one of the first people to introduce traditional Chinese medicine to Japan. He is considered the ancestor of Chinese herbal medicine, shaping traditional Chinese medicine to suit the needs of the Japanese people,” Professor Matsuo said. looks back. In the age of globalization, the journey of traditional medical knowledge that took him 11 years to reach from China to Japan could be completed within 11 seconds with the click of a button.