Homeopathy Past and Present

Homoeopathy History in Japan

“There is no border for a good medicine”.

Recent research shows that the concept of homoeopathy, which inspired the idea of self healing, had been passed on by Japanese traditional folk medicine. The idea of homoeopathic treatment, in fact, was still alive from ancient times in Japan, as Kojiki, a Japanese record of ancient matters, had already introduced homoeopathic ideas.

From Edo period to before the World War II

Two western approaches (mechanist and vitalist theories) were brought into Japan through books. The concept of “Homoeopathy” was introduced to Japan in the Edo period.

The mechanistic approach to medicine was introduced as “Manbyo Chijun”, which was translated into Japanese from the Dutch version (1778) of “Institutiones Medicae in Usus Annuae Exercitaliones Domesticos” by Blue Harve (1708). On the other hand, a medical system based on vitalism, led by Hufeland (Christoph Wilhelm Hufelad : 1762~1836), was more easily embraced by Japanese doctors who were oriented toward humoral pathology, which had a long established background.

The “Pathologue” by Hufeland (1796) (the most important work in his early days), was published as “Pathogenesis” (1850), which was translated from the Dutch. The medicine of Hufeland seems to have been used widely in Japan. “Kazuisutika” (1911, Meiji 44) by Ogai Mori states: “The medicine, which my old man practices, is mainly based on Hufeland’s thought …” that is a medicine, being practiced by a hero’s father, which is modelled on Ogai’s father.

Homoeopathy was not settled in Japan, though the words ‘Hahnemann’ and ‘Homoeopathy’ were put into Chinese characters and it was partly introduced in the Edo period. There are two reasons to be considered. Firstly, homoeopathy was standing on a theory of vitalism, and that approach was too dogmatic in character. It seems that the concept of homoeopathy didn’t coincide with the Japanese sensitivity to pragmatism, which respects practices more than theories.

Secondly, Japanese medicine in those days was basically medicinal herbs, acupuncture and moxibustion, which methods had been developed to a very sophisticated art. After the Meiji period, there was an increased flow of medical information from Europe.

There was a company “Fukuinkoji”, that imported and sold homoeopathic remedies from Boerick Tafel’s in America, Showa 8 (1933), and their Tokyo branch was located in Meguro-ku. A book, called ‘Homoeopathic Medicines’ was published by the company. There was a manufacturer of homoeopathic remedies in Marugame in Kagawa in the early Showa period, and the prime minister at that time, Makoto Saito, wrote “There is no border for a good medicine.”

Japanese medicine had been strongly influenced by German medicine prior to World War?, but it was swayed by American conventional and pharmaceutical medicine after the World War?, when Japan was occupied by the United States.

After World War II

Just after World War II, Hiroshi Sakaguchi (Kyoto University Medical School graduate) had a strong interest in oriental medicine. He went to Germany to teach acupuncture and moxibustion on the invitation of Dr. Schmidt, who was studying in Japan. While Sakaguchi was teaching acupuncture and moxibustion, he became familiar with homoeopathy. Homeopathy was a therapeutic system different from both oriental and western medicine.

It was around the 200th year celebration of Hahnemann’s birth. Homoeopathy was not a subject of research in the University, but it was rooted firmly as an alternative medicine. Sakaguchi studied homoeopathy in a Stuttgart hospital and, after he returned to Japan, wrote “Homoeopathic Treatment”, based on his experiences. There is some doubt about whether the book captured the essence of homeopathy and it didn’t have much effect on medical practice in Japan.

In spite of writing the book, Sakaguchi rarely treated people with homeopathy. He said “The reason why I did not use homoeopathy was purely I did not need to do so.” With this statement he expressed his pride in the effectiveness of acupuncture, moxibustion and Chinese herbal medicine. There is some evidence that homoeopathic treatment was carried on by a woman doctor named Sakon.

In 1975, when Queen Elizabeth visited Japan, she asked to consult with a homoeopath, but the Foreign Ministry could not find a Japanese homeopath. She was eventually treated by a homoeopath from another country who happened to live in Japan.

Since the 1980s, some people in Japan who had been abroad, started using homoeopathy. This was due to the rising interest worldwide, in alternative medicines. Homoeopathy has never been introduced to Japan by the mass media, but rather was mentioned as a mysterious treatment by a few spiritual-type magazines in the 1990s. The lack of attention to homoeopathy almost seemed intentional, and homeopathy remained obscure until until Ms Torako Yui started her activity in Japan in 1996.

Ms Torako Yui remembers those days, “That time in Japan… If somebody could just turn a tap, water (knowledge of homeopathy) would start to flow and people could have benefited from it. But it was as if someone were guarding the tap, so it wouldn’t be found. Homoeopathy had been spread all over the world, and it seemed unnatural that it didn’t exist in Japan.

I felt strongly that I had to tell everybody that the tap existed here. In the beginning there were so many difficulties in introducing homoeopathy to the Japanese people, but the water began to flow and it has been become a big river now. It has finally reached a point where no one can stop it. I could not have done this without the support from the U.K. I’m really, really thankful to them.”

Modern times

The introduction and spread of homoeopathy since 1996 has been called a miracle, as it has been so rapid. The accomplishments of Torako Yui, as a pioneer, are viewed with awe. She had been practicing homoeopathy in London (1966), when she was asked to give a lecture on homoeopathy in Japan. That’s when her activity in Japan began. One after the other, she established the organizations that were necessary to ground homeopathy in Japan.

Among her accomplishments were the establishment of educational and professional organizations, in order to spread homoeopathy promptly and widely. She also focused on educating the public through lectures, so that people could learn to treat themselves at home. She provided homoeopathic remedies at low cost to make them accessible to people.

A list of her accomplishment includes:

Providing education in homoeopathy

The first Japanese homoeopathy college, the Japan Royal Academy of Homoeopathy (RAH) was established by Torako Yui in April 1997. The college aims at providing the highest standards of training. Below are the some of the eminent homeopaths who have taught RAH students so far:

Michel Odent, Farokh Master, David Needleman, Ian Watson, Didier Grandgeorge, Jan Scholten, Robin Murphy, Rosina Sonnenschmidt, John Morgan, David Howell, Raj Bains, Mario Boyadzhiev, Arthur Bailey, Martin Miles, Colin Griffith, Miranda Castro, Frans Vermeulen, Yubraj Sharma, S. K. Banerjea, Rudi Verspoor, Ewald Stoeteler, David Lilley, George Dimitriadis, Trevor Gunn, Margaret Roy, Jacques Benveniste, Melissa Assilem, Robert Davidson, Jonathan Stallick, Myriam Shivadikar, Phil Wander, Sam Needleman, Andrew Lockie, Roger Dyson, Trevor Adams, Alize Timmerman, Jane Whitehead, Robert Duddell, Mike Bridger, Peter Crockett, H.E. van der Zee, Shaik Rahmathullah, Steve Smith, Elizabeth Adalian, John Hoare, Frederick Schroyens, Linda Gwillim, Jerome Whitney, Ellen Kramer, Rachel Roberts, Richard Kenchington, Geoff Johnson, Bob Wooler, Peter Morrell, Colin Lessell, Hilery Dorrian, Frederick Cole, William Nelson, Victor Sims, Karin Mont, and so on.

One of tutors we had invited to Japan, Rosina Sonnenschmidt, mentioned RAH in a German science journal “Raum & Zeit”.

Through these activities, the latest knowledge of homeopathy from around the world was brought to Japan and has boosted Japanese homoeopathy to world class level within a short time. The RAH developed a unique, undogmatic and free college spirit. A number of homoeopaths have visited Japan in the last ten years, apart from RAH invitation and this resulted in creating a significant intellectual exchange between Japan and overseas. In 2006, RAH established a main college in the U.K. and started to broadcast lectures from there to six other Japanese colleges (Sapporo, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto and Fukuoka) using a high technological TV conference system. Subsequently, the colleges started the animal homoeopathy course, as well as part-time and full-time courses. RAH has gained a high reputation as an innovative and pragmatic school, which included overseas lecturers.

In homoeopathy, the advancement of theoretical knowledge is highly respected. It can be obtained through learning homoeopathic principles, miasm theory and Materia Medica explained in the “Organon of Medicine”. Students should also learn about pathology, physiology and anatomy from homoeopathic a medical point of view, which information will be useful in practice. The policy of RAH is to choose a method most applicable to each patient and not to abide by a particular one. Our students shall not be biased to a certain treatment, but learn various approaches and be capable of selecting what is most suitable for the patient. They will study over one hundred cases with senior homoeopaths before their graduation, as we focus on practicality.

Due to Yui’s effort in researching practical cures, Japanese homoeopathy is highly developed in the area of applied homoeopathy for modern diseases such as allergy, developmental disorders (like autism and hyperkinesias), self immune disorders (like cancer and AIDS), mental illness, inner child and many other intractable diseases, as well as iatrogenic and drug-induced diseases and those produced by environmental toxins.

About the author

The Japanese Homoeopathic Medical Association

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  • Very nice presentation. it is really journey to japan homeo world through your presentation. hope we will be enriched by this type of pen in future.