Book review

Kampo – A Clinic Guide to Theory and Practice 

Otsuka book translated by Ms. Gretchen and Mr. Nigel, for my opinion, brings a new message to the herbal medicine clinic.

First, let me start to describe my impression about Kampo.

After several years of learning TCM herbs and working with Chinese formulas for patients there are always some questions rising:

Am I doing enough for my patients?

Is there a better formula to give them?

How can I know that this formula is the right one for my patient?

In order to get a full picture we need to go over the symptoms, tongue, pulse and understand what organ/meridian is damaged, what stage of the disease the pathogen is and so on.

After determining what the right diagnosis is, which formula should we choose?

Should we choose a classic formula or make our own modification?

Should we think about every single herb and its quantity in the formula?

So many questions; So many decisions to make;

What is the right answer?

Do we have only one true answer?

Well, no!

In China, many professional practitioners write many formulas that were build “in-house” by their master’s legacy. Each master can build different formulas even for the same disease,  for the same patient.

Sometimes it seems that if the same patient that suffers from a specific disease will get different formulas from different practitioners.

Probably, they are all right! Still, it is harder to understand their way of thinking without sitting side by side for couple of years. This is also a mission impossible.

The common TCM student studies Chinese herbs for several years and starts practicing his new knowledge right away in the clinic. Most of them do not practice enough with a senior practitioner.

This is why a new system needed to be engaged here, a new way of thinking: a system that is a standard practice, standard teaching, a system that is concise but still very clinic, making it possible to practice.

For my opinion, this is exactly the Kampo way!

As a Kampo patient you can get a treatment from two different Kampo practitioners and theoretically you will receive the same formula. This is because the Kampo has a standard unified way of thinking.

This is the “why” so far for using Kampo.

Till now there were several Kampo books been published. Each one of them showing another aspect of the Kampo knowledge. This is great having so much knowledge published in English and not just in Japanese.

Otsuaka book translated by Ms.Gretchen and Mr.Nigel is a comprehensive book.

It explains in details the philosophy of the Kampo. How should we think in the Kampo way, the four examinations: looking, listening, asking, touching and the most important is the abdominal confirmation.

Abdominal confirmation is actually the extraordinary examination that makes the big difference from the Chinese diagnosis. The book also explains the six stages of diagnosis and more.

The next paragraph describes 73 common formulas in a very unique way. Each formula presented by its main symptoms, it’s different from other similar formulas and especially it describes its “Shoh”, the complete way of appearance of the patient that should fit this formula, especially abdominal diagnosis.

This is important because when we are not sure if we choose the right formula, we can read the section of the formula that may give us more information to ensure our formula decision.

The book makes it easy to use and easy to understand the formula by describing the patient that should receive it and much less about the formula herbs that assemble it!

Next is paragraph ‘4’ that consists of a large review of “western diseases” in a variety of subjects.

For each one of them there are several formulas suggested to treat that disease. In each formula the authors explained what kind of patient is suitable for that formula by describing his/her symptoms and abdominal diagnosis and so on.

This helps a lot to categorize the problem/disease the patient is suffering from under several formulas under one disease title.

This makes our life much easier to understand the patient’s suffering, to learn the system, to choose the right formula and have a bridge of understanding between us working in a traditional way and the MD doctors working in the modern way of the medicine today.

This is a very important matter.

For example, I often see in my clinic cases of insomnia.

Sometimes helping insomnia is not so simple. Especially if the patient is already suffering from it for a few months or couple of years.

The reasons for that are diverse.

The section of insomnia in this book is very interesting. It is talking about excess patients (i.e. obese type), deficient patients (i.e. anemic person), patients with high sensitivity of ANS (nervous type) and so on. In that way it is easier to pick the right formula.

According to the type of the person / the confirmation / the “Shoh” and according to his/her combination of symptoms you can find the right formula. It means that no more deliberation, you know that you need to pick a formula from a collection of formulas for insomnia.

Also, you know that all those formulas were tested for their efficiency.

This kind of thinking is very helpful to make a fast and accurate decision.

Therefore, I am highly recommend this excellent book of Ms.gretchen and Mr.Nigel.


Ofir Bloch  –

A Japanese and Chinese practitioner.


Also, the creator of the Israeli Kampo website: and administrator of the Israeli Kampo Facebook group:

Kampo-IL (