Accepted Paper:

Emerging indigenous medical knowledge in Japan  


Miho Ushiyama (Waseda Institute for Advanced Study)

Paper short abstract:

This paper shows the case of emerging indigenous medical knowledge regarding atopic dermatitis in Japan. By illustrating this case, this paper discusses that indigenous knowledge can be produced even in modern settings.

Paper long abstract:

The word 'indigenous knowledge' evokes the image of lay people's knowledge which is disseminated through communities over the course of generations as a 'tradition'. However, there is a new indigenous knowledge, which has emerged amongst patients in contemporary societies and goes against current biomedical knowledge. This paper focuses on a group of people suffering from Atopic Dermatitis (AD) in Japan and on their knowledge about AD treatment, which goes against the standard treatment.

AD is an inflammatory skin disease and there is no medicine to cure it. In the standard treatment for AD, steroids are used as the first line therapy all over the world. Steroids can cease inflammation quickly but they do not cure AD and are used as a temporal treatment. However, patients with severe symptoms have to keep using them for a long period of time to control their symptoms, which induces some side-effects. These include acne, hair growth and thinning skin. It is also claimed that the efficacy of steroids reduces when they are used for a long period of time and the harsh deterioration, which is called the rebound phenomenon, occurs when patients cease using steroids. Because of such negative effects, some patients stop using steroids and try to treat their symptoms without steroids. This treatment is called non-steroid treatment and interesting enough, this treatment is found only in Japan and America to my knowledge. This paper discuss that indigenous knowledge can be produced even in modern settings and can act as counter to biomedicine.

Panel P063
Traditional and indigenous medicinal knowledge and practices among the indigenous people: past and its future