“Diet and the Way You Look at Things Have a big Influence on Making a Healthy Body."

  The representative of CAMU Network
Dr. Joji Fujinami

In the U.S., many people are now starting to pay attention to a new type of medicine (or alternative medicine) other than Western medicine. A reappraisal and stirring awareness of diet in people's minds is rapidly taking place. Among such changes, the effectiveness of soybeans, one of Japan's traditional foods, is being investigated, while the connection of the mind with spiritualism is being taken up closely in the mental health field. We carried out an interview with Dr. Joji Fujinami, the representative of the CAMU Network ("Complementary and Alternative Medicine Users Network" in Japan), to find out the background of why the U.S. came to head towards alternative medicine recently
――It is said that America has started began to look at Japanese food materials.

America pays attention to soybeans which so far have been used for livestock feed.

Fujinami: In the U.S., dietary preferences have shown some changes recently. People came to be interested in Japanese food materials such as soybean products including "tofu" or soybean curd, and fish. Up until now, America has used soybeans as feed for livestock. A few years ago, the temperature of the sea rose because of the El Nino effect, decreasing the catch of anchovies, which pushed up soybean curd prices in Japan. The anchovies were used for livestock feed. But as the fish take was reduced, so soybeans intended for exported to Japan were used instead to feed farm animals.

Soybeans are a good and major source of protein in Japan. But the recognition of it in the U.S. is only low, as a kind of livestock feed. Currently, the Japanese get their protein from meat. Eating meat, in the case of Japan, became a habit during the Meiji Era, when the country had been campaigning to "catch up and overtake Western society". After that, Japan lost World War II, so the campaign became even more intense, further encouraging a climate of meat consumption.

Some while ago, Kyushu University in Japan conducted an epidemiological survey, which showed that low meat intake was linked to cerebral hemorrhage. That is, blood vessels tended to rupture easily because of the deficit of protein. The fragility of the blood vessels was caused by the scarce intake of meat, so the Japanese needed to eat more meat as they were overall lacking animal protein in their diet. After this conclusion, people came to eat meat even more than previously. However, some people suffered cerebral hemorrhage even though they ate the same amount of meat as others.

――Okinawa Prefecture is one of the areas in which people enjoy longevity in Japan. However, meat intake in that region is not that small, contrary to our expectation.

Balance in food intake is important. There can be a significant difference in stamina depending on the way vegetables are taken.

Fujinami: I have heard that people in Okinawa remove the fat from the meat when cooking. I do not think that meat per se is bad. But the problem is taking meat together with fat in it, and that causes a problem. It is also important to maintain a good dietary balance by taking vegetables and seaweed as well as meat. Changing food habit is not recommended. For instance, some people say that eating brown rice is good, and not doing so is no good for health. But I do not agree.

The late Dr. Kondo, who had been an emeritus professor studying hygiene at Tohoku University, researched areas where there were people nationwide with long life spans. He said the secret of longevity was, after all, a well-balanced diet. In the diet, taking meat is good, of course. And, if fish and seaweed are added together with vegetables as the core of meals, while also eating meat, the combination is very good. To quote him, he said those who ate too little vegetable would not live long. As an example, a survey was conducted comparing women divers living in Toyama Prefecture with those in Mie Prefecture. Those living in the latter region continue to work energetically even after they reached the age of 70. They get up as early as 5 a.m., diving under the water. In the late afternoon, they stop diving, moving to the field and doing field work and household chores. This is their routine. On the other hand, those in Toyama cannot continue the job any longer when they are over 50 years of age, because they had breathing difficulties. It is said the only difference between the two comes from the respective diets, in which one group takes a lot of vegetables while the other does not.

Furthermore, Professor Kondo recommends eating potatoes. It is very good if one takes potato of any kind, including ordinary potatoes, once a day. However, if you pay too much attention to food in your daily dietary life, saying that some food is no good, or you have to give up certain others, and if that produced stress, it would not be good either. A life style of doing things in moderation is essential.

――It appears that Americans are redirecting their attention to alternative medicine from the Western medicine practised so far, while at the same time reassessing people's dietary habits.

It is very likely that the alternative medicine would be mainstream in Japan, rather than the U.S.

Fujinami: As a result of Occidental medicine coming to a state of deadlock, alternative medicine is taking overtaking it and becoming popular. The U.S. Government also supports The National Institutes of Health (NIH), which has been studying alternative medicine. But it seems that the chief aim of this is, first of all, to cut medical expenses. So, that leaves room for doubt as to how seriously alternative medicine is going to be promoted in the US. They came to look at Oriental medicine after realizing the limitations of Western medicine. If the background was like this, it would be fine. But, if such efforts began to be made simply out of economic considerations, I do not think that it would last long.

Beginning with the hippies, then directing attention to Oriental thoughts, America started initiating a study of holistic medicine earlier than we did. If alternative medicine came to be researched along with this flow, it is good, and such study will continue for a long time. However, I consider that it would be difficult for alternative medicine to become mainstream in the U.S. The reason for this is that Westerners still have the Occidental medicine performed so far. If alternative medicine were to achieve the position of being mainstream medicine, it would rather happen in Japan. Geographically, Japan is located between the East and the West. Japan has been exclusively a follower of Western things so far. But, she can redirect eastwards, combining the two elements now. This is what I believe.

What is crucial in medical treatment is whether or not a patient can be cured. However reasonable a medical explanation may sound, it does not work at all if the patient is not cured. Japan made a mistake about this in the early period of the Meiji Era. Patients with beriberi were treated with both herbal Chinese medicine and Occidental medicine. It was the Chinese medicine that was successful in treating the patients. But, it could not explain why it succeeded in curing them. Meanwhile, Occidental medicine readily explained the reason for not curing them. For this reason, the latter was employed in medical school education. In order to mass-produce doctors in medical schools, medication without reasoning was useless and unacceptable.

An interest in alternative medicine is growing spontaneously in Japan.

Fujinami: In Japan, people are turning their attention to alternative medicine as a reaction to their previously exclusive devotion to the West. It seems to me that there is no specific objective of the movement, but that this is a natural change in direction of the flow. There are reports that the medical costs of the nation as a whole exceeded \30 trillion, and, that more than a quarter of those researched in the National Livelihood Survey feel that their health is poor. I do not think that people's interest in alternative medicine increased due to such results. But, I think that people spontaneously came to consider things in such a way: Occidental medicine was, at the base, somewhat different from what we wanted; or, the line based on the principles of Newton or Descartes might have limitations. I believe that this is the difference between the U.S. and Japan.

――It is reported that Shamanic treatments, such as healing through prayer, is also being taken as a treatment program into public organizations in the U.S.

Fujinami: When Dr. Ogai Mori, a medical doctor, who is well known as one of the famous authors in Japan, studied in Germany, bringing back Western medicine to Japan, he completely separated religious elements from medicine. Originally, the two had been combined. There was a history of a series of massacres in the name of witch hunting in Western history. Women with a mysterious power to cure illness were called witches at that time. So those who treated the sick were these women. The medical treatment was taken away from them on the grounds that they were witch doctors by the then male-dominated society. The women who practised and sustained traditional medicine, which is now referred to as alternative medicine, were burnt alive, and that led to total disappearance of alternative medicine. Then, male-dominated medicine was established in the society of power, continuing to this day.

There was in fact a case in which sickness improved by shamanic treatment with prayers. Recently, a study report was presented, which was a test conducted in a hospital located in the US West Coast near Los Angeles. In that study, patients with cardiac disease were divided into two groups. The number of patients was about 400, and they had almost the same symptoms, as well as being close in age to each other. One group was just treated without any religious element, while the other received prayers in addition to medical treatments. In this case, the no particular kind of religion was taken into account and was not a special one. Of the latter group, priests living in the East Coast were asked to pray for the participants with only names and diseases of each patient of the group made known to them. The prayer treatment continued for between half a year to a year. The result showed that the number of the patients who died while they received the prayers were far fewer than those in the other group. The number of cases in which the patients improved with the prayers were more than those of the other group, and that brought a finding that the prayers did certainly have an effect. So, I believe that treatment of illness, in the end, has something to do with spirituality.

――It is said that a spiritual energy propels you to get over illness, or that what is important in treating disease is the state of mind and how you look at things.

Fujinami: There is a book entitled "Kinship With All Life." It says that if you keep long company with someone or something, a dog or cat, for instance, you can have mutual communication with it. It is said that this occurs even with a fly. When you wash your face, a fly flies close to you, stopping at a certain spot every day. If you talk to it every day, you can little by little have communication with it. This is applicable to ants as well. I also heard an episode where the floor of a room was covered full of ants, leaving no space to place a foot on it. So the resident of the room talked to them to leave, and the ants did so. In addition, there is another story of the same kind. There were researchers on yeast in America. Among them, there was only researcher who could produce a result that was different from those of others. While the latter were not successful in their experiments, the one researcher's experiments went well all the time. One of the colleagues asked him about the key to success. He answered that he always talked the yeast to make the experiment go well.

It could be considered that each of the yeast cells has a consciousness, enabling communication of their intentions each other. So, I think that it is unnecessary to remove a cancer lesion forcibly. A part of your body turned into cancer cells by some chance. So, I consider that it would be possible to revert them to their previous state. Mr. Shin'ya Nishimaru, a Japanese researcher into diet and health regimens, and who is also known as the writer of a book called "41-Sai Jumyo Setsu" ("a theory that 41 years old is the duration of life of a man," in English), has been diagnosed as having colon and rectal cancer for 13 years. He says that, from time to time, he talks to the cancer, "If you grow too big and kill me, you also have to die. So, let's live together." When he does so, the cancer understands what he says, showing signs of recovery.

Taking another example, when a foreign substance enters the human body, leukocytes and lymphocytes get together to get rid of the material. I think that this is also done through communications of will between the cells. Many say the mind exists in the mind, or in the heart. I think that consciousness exists in all cells from the tip of a foot to the fingertip of a man, and we may be able to control our health through talking to it.

◆Profile Dr. Fujinami

MD, Ph.D. After graduating from Tokyo Medical College and serving as a Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health of the University, he is now Professor Emeritus of the University. He also served as the chairman of The Japan Holistic Medical Society for ten years since its establishment. He also holds offical positions in many organizations: chairman of The Japan Medical Society of Natural Healing; chairman of the Society for Mind-Body Science; adviser to the Japanese Academy of Occlusion and Health; adviser to The Aromatherapy Association of Japan; and, hyogiin (or "a member of the council" in English) of The Japan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In addition, he is the representative of the CAMU Network.

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