Traditional Japanese medicine is inspired by traditional Chinese medicine but has its own specificities. Discover a traditional medicine that aims to restore balance to the body. Claire Rouger, a traditional Japanese medicine practitioner, explains.
Traditional Japanese medicine (TJM) called Kanpō yaku, which has its origins in traditional Chinese medicine, spread in Japan from the 5th and 6th centuries. “While at first it was almost a copy and paste of traditional Chinese medicine, over the centuries traditional Japanese medicine has been reconstructed in its own way, with specific treatment techniques and a pharmacopoeia adapted to Japanese plants,” explains Claire Rouger, a practitioner of traditional Japanese medicine in Paris and author of La médecine traditionnelle japonaise Le grand livre* published by Editions Leduc.s.
Touch is essential
The guiding principle of this traditional medicine is Touch or the notion of Teate, which in Japanese means “to put the hand, to heal, to touch the body, to feel”… “Palpation constitutes the basis of the practice of this traditional medicine for the different techniques developed since the 6th century,” informs the practitioner of traditional Japanese medicine. Palpating the body allows us to feel if there are empty areas in excess which indicate an imbalance, Kyo and Jitsu, emptiness and fullness, being essential notions in traditional Japanese medicine. The aim is to regain the balance of life (Ki) and the circulation of energy in the body without obstacles,” she explains.
Traditional Japanese medicine uses several healing techniques
The healing techniques that use touch are traditional anma massage, moxibustion, acupuncture and shiatsu.
“Moxibustion consists of treating with heat by burning a “cotton” obtained from dried, powdered mugwort leaves, explains Claire Rouger. Acupuncture can be done with needles but also by contact with small tools, for example one – used for children – that looks like a Gingko biloba leaf that comes to tap, stimulate points or areas of the body. Shiatsu is also a technique of digito-puncture. We work on the energy paths in the body,” she says.
Digestive problems, pain, relaxation… Benefits for the body and mind
In addition to these treatment techniques, in order to be in good health or to regain it, traditional Japanese medicine insists on a healthy lifestyle: diet, physical activity, sleep, and mental relaxation. “The Japanese practice a health gymnastic, taiso, every day,” says Claire Rouger.
“Traditional Japanese medicine helps to strengthen the immune system, while working on a healthy lifestyle. It is also recommended if you have digestive problems, such as diarrhoea or chronic constipation, back pain, gynaecological problems such as painful periods”, says the practitioner of traditional Japanese medicine who also assists women undergoing IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) so that their organism is at its most energetic, children who are agitated or, on the contrary, apathetic, to help them regain their composure or tone, or people who need to regulate their diet or suffer from addiction.
As traditional Japanese medicine emphasises prevention, it is also interesting for maintaining a balanced life. “Maintaining body-mind balance is the first step towards health,” says Claire Rouger.