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YOSHIMASU Todo As a Clinician

November 1973
YOSHIMASU Todo As a Clinician

OGAWA Arata, M.D.

1. To attack poison with Poison(drugs)
2. Manbyo-ichidoku (All diseases are caused by one poison)
3. The Present Age and YOSHIMASU Todo
In a record he has left, YOSHIMASU Todo[1702-1773 吉益東洞] says,   "If I am wrong in my art, may my life be taken, for the medicine I practise would harm many a person. If I am not wrong and it would save many people, may Kami (a divine being in Japan) help me and allow me to transmit it to posterity."  It should be said that he really staked his life on discovering a medical technique to save the sick. In the following, I shall briefly explain the two major, fundamental characteristics of his medicine.

1. To attack poison with Poison(drugs)
YOSHIMASU Todo extensively read, besides classic medical literature, ancient Chinese books such as "Shisho Gokyo"(四書五経,The Four Books and Five Classics of Confucianism) and "Shoshi Hyakka"(諸子百家,The Theories of All Philosophers). It is said that from the ancient Chinese book, "Shosho"(尚書,History of Ancient China) he discovered the truth: "The sick are not cured of their disease by taking drug unless the drug, which is poison, strikes the poison of their disease to cause an offensive reaction within their body."

For instance, an old woman caught cold, developed a fever of 39℃ on the 2nd. day and complained of headache and general joint pain but of no cough or perspiration, apparently presenting the symptoms of acute particular rheumatism. When about a day’’s dose of the drug Mao-To麻黄湯1)  was given, she developed 10 odd bouts of diarrhea during the night. A little before defecation, she developed only minimal abdominal pains but no distress as in acute intestinal catarrh. Therefore, Ogon-To黄芩湯2) was next given for 2 days, which completely arrested diarrhea, and from the 4th day she began to do cooking work as usual. She felt very well and became active.

Of deep interest here is that Mao-To is frequently used in the prescription for physically strong patients with cold in the initial stage. When this was given to the woman, she developed no perspiration, but had instead as many as 20 bouts of watery diarrhea per day, with fever subsiding and general arthralgia disappearing. This medicine is originally a diaphoretic but in the case of this woman, this medicine, attacking the poison of her disease, caused no perspiration. The sweat was discharged extra corporeally by diarrhea. It should be said that the watery poison which had caused fever, arthralgia, headache, etc. was discharged not by perspiration but by diarrhea.

As stated above, entirely unexpected reactions develop very frequently, but this should not be ascribed to erroneous treatment or side effects. It should be said a reactionary curing process be compatible with the living body. Generally speaking, when such a case is treated with western medical drugs such as pyrines-containing antalgic-antifebriles, antibiotics, steroid hormone, etc., fever subsides, seldom accompanied by diarrhea but frequently leaving arthralgia as a sequelae for a fairly long period, but a complete cure overnight cannot possibly be expected.

As stated above, the medical technique of YOSHIMASU Todo is said to resort mostly to drastic offensive treatment, producing very severe reactions which made the people in general very much afraid. However, when his offensive treatment (kind of prescription) made a direct hit on the poison of a disease, it often had dramatic effect to the extreme joy of the patient.

2. Manbyo-ichidoku (All diseases are caused by one poison)
The hint for this conception was obtained from a paragraph of the ancient Chinese book "Roshi Shunju" (呂氏春秋,Chronicles of the Lü clan) . He seemed to have realized that all diseases are invariably due to congested poison. Congested poison meant poison produced by congestion. This, rephrased in terms of modern medicine, probably was an expression of the morbid state caused by disturbed circulation of body fluid. That is, it seems to include all circulatory disturbances in large and small arteries and veins, circulatory disturbances in the level of capillaries, and circulatory disturbances in the lymphatic apparatus and inter tissue fluid. All of these disturbances seem to have been expressed simply by the word  utsu(欝) or excessive fullness. It does not matter at all in this case whether the cause be intrinsic or extrinsic. Whatever the cause, the same poison can be considered for the same condition. Namely, if the condition of disturbances is the same though the causes differ, the poison is the same and the disturbances can be cured with the same drug. That is, it is possible to attack and cure the disturbances using the same drug.

I wish to introduce here what he states in his own book "Iji Wakumon" (医事或問,Medical Questions and Answers) . He writes,   "The Chinese classic medical book "Shokan-ron" (傷寒論,Essay on Severe Febrile Diseases) states.  As long as the same condition is present whether in acute febrile disease or chronic febrile disease or other diseases due to overeating or blood congestion, the drug Shosaiko-to can be used effectively for all of these diseases."     After reading this, I could understand that all diseases were caused by one poison. It was difficult for me to master the technique, however, but with the lapse of time, as I studied the functions of drugs and the significance of prescriptions, I naturally made progress and attained enlightenment on the technique of Ichidoku(一毒,one poison) which gave me such a good command of the technique that I felt as if I were traveling over familiar ways.

That is to say, he first attained enlightenment on the conception of Manbyo ichidoku (万病一毒.  All diseases are caused by one poison.)" and then studied the technique of Ihidoku  by which he treated diseases due to various causes with the same prescription and cured those diseases.

For instance, the drug Kakkon-To葛根湯3) is used for a cold in the initial stage with headache, shoulder stiffness and chill, but for like conditions developing in mild whiplash disorder due to a rear-end automobile collision, use of the same drug can readily lead to a cure. This is because very mild edema over the shoulder, neck and head, primarily fine inflammatory edema (watery stagnation) in the subcutaneous tissue, can be cured by causing perspiration with this drug. This is an actual case showing that same conditions, regardless of the cause, can be cured, as Todo(東洞) says, by the technique of administering "Ichidoku" against "Ichidoku". However, if, though similarly a cold in the initial stage, the individual is so physically disposed that he easily develops cough and expectoration, or if, though similarly a whiplash case, the individual has nausea from the beginning besides headache, neck pains and shoulder pains, the pathogenic poison, though it be the same, lies at a deeper place, so that the above-stated prescription of Kakkon-To葛根湯 cannot effect a cure, and the disorder will be unconsciously aggravated.

Todo's eldest son YOSIMASU Nangai(吉益南涯) thought that this conception of his father's was very difficult to understand and might easily be misunderstood. He therefore explained this "Ichidoku"  analytically as a poison, water poison and blood poison, to help the people in general to more easily understand. In short, the meaning apparently is that all diseases are caused by poison, not meaning that there is a poison for each disease. If the conception were that there is a separate poison for each disease, it would have been very easy to understand at present as well as in the past, but it says "Ichidoku", which renders it very difficult to understand. However, what Todo desires to say, is not to change the kind of treatment according to the kind of cause but to attack poison with poison according to the symptoms of the disease to effect a cure. However, he desires not to say that a disease has no cause but that a supposed cause is a conjecture which is inaccurate, and that if time is spent only to clarify the cause, it might be too late to treat the immediate disease. He wishes to say that upon finding the existence of poison we should, to remove it, attack the poison with the poison 'drug', according to its symptoms.

Thus thinking, Todo's way of thinking is very direct and materialistic, rejecting the practice in those days of discussing diverse causes in relation to the five viscera and six entrails and the meridian line, and of comprehending analytically the viscera and entrails and the meridian line according to the theory of the five positive and negative natural elements, saying that though it apparently was clever to prescribe a particular drug to cure a particular disease, it actually was not effective.

3. The Present Age and YOSHIMASU Todo
Reflecting on modern medicine, the method of analytically determining the condition of disease by conducting respiratory, circulatory, liver, renal, digestive tract, endocrine gland, and cerebrospinal function tests and various chemical tests is making rapid progress. Many of these tests, though they tell us about the disease in part, do not give us the complete picture. Hence, one often would tend to persist in inferring and trying to demonstrate the cause, to thus finally lose sight of the truth, blinded by the diagnosis.

Treatment according to diagnosis in modern medicine has various merits of its own, but, on the other hand, the essence of the  "Ichidoku"  is apt to be lost in face of fluid and varying symptoms if a diagnosis is established and it is adhered to too strongly, and the wrong treatment may unconsciously be adopted.

Also it seems that there are too many medical techniques in present-day medicine, whose theories, though apparently clever, are ineffective. It seems that  "Shitsu-i no Michi" (The Principles of Medical Practice), which Todo advocated, has been lost.

Thus viewing, Todo's medicine can be regarded as offering many suggestions and much to be reflected on to us present-day men of medicine two hundred and scores of years later. Thus, Todo will continue to live in the present age and in the future. 

(Published on 10 November 1973 in commemoration of the bicentenary of YOSHIMASU Todo)


1) Mao-To : Mao 麻黄湯, 麻黄Ephedra Herba 5.0gr / 生姜Kydnin, Armeniacae Semen 5.0gr.
2) Ogon-To 黄芩湯 : 黄芩, Scutellariae Radix 4.0gr. / 大棗, Zizyphi Fructus 4.0gr
3) Kakkon-To 葛根湯 : 葛根, Puerariae Radix 8.0gr. / 麻黄, Ephedra Herba 4.0gr. Taisou, Zizyphi Fructus 4.0gr. / 桂枝, Cinnamomi Cortex 3.0gr. 芍薬, Paeoniae Radix 3.0gr. / 甘草, Glycyrrhizae Radix 2.0gr./ 生姜, Zingiberis Rhizoma 1.0gr.

Kami 神(a divine being in Japan)  /  YOSHIMASU Todo 吉益東洞  /  YOSHIMASU Nangai吉益南涯, his father is Todo  /  Shisho-Gokyo 四書五経  /  Shosho 尚書  /  Shoshi Hyakka 諸子百家  /  Roshi-Shunju 呂氏春秋  /  Shokan-Ron 傷寒論  /  Iji-Wakumon医事或問  /  Shitsu-i no Michi 疾医の道  /  Shosaiko-To 小柴胡湯  /  Manbyo-ichidoku 万病一毒  /  utu 鬱  /  Itidoku 一毒  /  OGAWA Arata 小川新

■Chronological Personal History

  • 1702  Born in Hiroshima-shi in May; first son of father Shigetaka and mother Hana.
  • 1721  19 years old; studies obstetrics of the Yoshimasu school under NOZU Yujun.
  • 1731  30 years old; established the theory that all diseases are caused by one poison.
  • 1739  37 years old; in March, family (father Doan, mother Hana, younger sister Riyo) moved to Kyoto where he advocated "Ko-i-ho" 古医方(a school of old Chinese medicine). He changed his name from HAKEYAMA and YOSHIMASU and resided at Minami-iru, Kasuga-cho, Marikoji, Kyoto.
  • 1744   In Kyoto for six years and the extremity of poverty, he barely made his living by making dolls until the age of 44.
  • 1746   Offered a votive picture of a horse a written prayer to the Itsukushims Shrine.
  • 1747  46 years old; gaining the favor of YAMAWAKI Toyo, he prospered in his profession. Moved his residence to Nishi-iru, Higashi no Doin, Sanjo-dori.
  • 1751   50 years old; published his "Ruijuho"類聚方.
  • 1752   Made a professional call on Lord Nanbu of Morioka.
  • 1762   60 years old; party held to celebrate his 60th birthday,attended by several hundred people.
  • 1769   68 years old; returned to his native place several times to establish a tomb for his grandfather Doan at Kokutaiji Temple in Hiroshima.
  • 1771   Party to celebrate his 70th birthday held in Maruyama, Kyoto.
  • 1773   72 years old; died at new home in Gosho Seimongai. Kyoto.

==== [Wikipedia] =========

  1. Yoshimasu-Formel
  2. Yoshimasu Tōdō
  3. 吉益 東洞 [YOSHIMASU Tōdō]-Japaneas


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