Ekiken Kaibara on Supplementing Yin

//Ekiken Kaibara on Supplementing Yin

Ekiken Kaibara on Supplementing Yin

I’ve been doing some research for a book on 養生 yang sheng/nourishing life, and one of my favorites for many years has been Yojokun, by Ekiken Kaibara. Kaibara was a neo-confucianist philosopher, samurai and physician in the 17th century. As well as setting out laws of maintaining health, Yojokun also discusses many of the Jin-Yuan medical theories that were popular at this time. Ekiken considered himself a follower of Li Dongyuan, originator of the spleen-stomach current, which makes sense considering his focus on diet and digestive health. But he was very critical of Zhu Danxi’s (Zheng-heng) theory of supplementing yin.

“On what classic is the theory of superfluous yang and insufficient yin based? I myself have never seen such a book. If these are Dan-xi’s words, they are nonsense and difficult to believe. They go against the principle of the dao of change. If you follow Dan-xi’s methods and concentrate on supplementing yin, you will hurt your spleen and stomach and damage your fundamental health. If yang flourishes, yin will of itself live long. If you supplement yang qi, yin blood will be produced of itself. But if you try to supplement insufficient yin by taking xuan shen, huang bai and zhi mu for a long period, you will only damage your true yang, weaken your stomach qi, and inhibit the production of blood.”

2015-03-07T20:24:56+00:00 March 18th, 2012|7 Comments


  1. Mikael May 13, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Many modern teachers also seem to disapprove the Zhu Danxi’s idea of nourishing yin. I can agree with ‘ If you follow Dan-xi’s methods and concentrate on supplementing yin, you will hurt your spleen and stomach and damage your fundamental health’. But one sometimes I feel that the confusion here lies in understanding the nature of ministerial fire and the ways of handling yin deficiency. For example the in Xiānghǔo lùn (Treatise on Ministerial fire) the fire causing the yin deficiency is not what seems usually considered fire but ministerial fire. And this fire is usually brought by the heart or mind. And Zhu Danxi’s idea of the best way for this was with cultivating Heart (at least in Xiānghǔolùn).

    But I agree that many times one needs to kick yang a bit to when one wants to supplemen/nourisht yin.

    Thanks for the post. The book you mention is unknown to me…Is it really that good that one should pay $100 for 256 pages? (price seen in amazon)…

  2. Z'ev Rosenberg May 17, 2012 at 10:42 am

    My experience here in the U.S. is that most teachers, practitioners and students are afraid to use yang/warming medicinals such as fu zi, gui zhi, gan jiang and xi xin, yet liberally dose their prescriptions with cold bitter medicinals such as ban lan gen or greasy yin supplementing medicinals such as shu di huang. Having said that, I’d love to see the xianghuo lun section. There are different ideas about ministerial fire from the Jin/Yuan physicians from the Shang Han Za Bing Lun current that are worthy of our attention.
    The ‘Yojokun’ I have is only 30 dollars at most. .

  3. Mikael June 24, 2012 at 1:03 am

    It may be because of quite cold weather of Finland some of us are using warming herbs here. It seems that most Chinese medicine schools here are always stating that it is liver qi stagnation, no matter the symptoms and if any herbs are given they are to unbind liver qi. Other common reasoning goes to phlegm. (These might be proper diagnosis quite often here but still)…
    Many people specializing other alternative treatments seem to advocate more colder approach as the raw food movement is quite hit here. I have seen customers who only consume blended raw foods, nothing cooked in years and as you can guess they display lot of cold syndromes.
    I have to admit that I am no specialist in herbs so I have very limited skills with them and also lack of experience. Here we cannot use them because of the laws and for that reason there are also almost zero courses available.

    Thanks for your suggestion for ministerial fire sources. I also hope that one day I find a cheaper Yojokun :)

    Here is the xianghuolun (please not that I just copied this from web without checking for typos):







  4. Z'ev Rosenberg, L. Ac. June 24, 2012 at 7:29 am

    Thank you for posting this text. It is very helpful. Your comments are always appreciated. However, your post makes me think that there must be some way to develop herbal medicine in your country, with its long history of using herbs and natural products as medicines. . . a movement must be started to change this situation, as pharmaceuticals will continue to degenerate the population unless a countermovement is provided. . .

  5. Mikael June 24, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Finnish use of herbs differs a lot from Chinese use. However some of the uses have been similar and we even have some same plants growing here. The problem is to combine native herbs to Chinese medicine and its view of energetic properties. I do not know people who are “transparent enough” to be able to determine herb characteristics.

    The bigger problem is the availability. There is very limited availability of Finnish herbs in health stores. You can pick your own but as many useful herbs are classified as medical drugs and their sales are prohibited. This is truly annoying. For example tussilago that grow every where here cannot be sold legally. Only pharmacies are allowed to sell them but they are mostly against herbs and sell only stuff from big medical companies.

    I am glad that people still use and even sell these “illegal” herbs but it seems that things are getting even stricter. I have even heard people getting fined for purchasing herbs from aboard for their own personal use. I fear that soon receiving herbs as gift will also be a problem. This is happening also in other countries in Europe. This is bit a conspiracy thinking but I somehow think that it has something to do with big pharma. I am aware at least three big medical companies doing extensive research on medical properties of Chinese herbs and they already have plans for selling these products. Otherwise I would not care so much about the provider of the herbs but these companies will be selling only stuff isolated from herbs so they are almost of no use for us.
    I can just hope that the money talks phrase also holds true for big Chinese companies willing to sell Chinese herbs to Europe ;)

    Currently I am planning of putting out a list of herbs that are common in Finland and China and ask people send pictures of these herbs. I’ll translate some Chinese texts about these herbs so we could at least have a database of herbs available that contain some of our native plants. So at least those willing to pick herbs could share this information and herbs with their friends.

  6. Z'ev Rosenberg, L. Ac. June 24, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    I’m not familiar with European laws and politics, but I believe that there was a mega-law passed last year that strictly regulated the sale of herbal medicines in Europe proper. This law must be fought with everything we’ve got. But raw herbs apparently are not covered, you can still get raw Chinese medicinals if I’m not mistaken. ..

  7. Mikael June 24, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    I am not familiar either….But luckily some people are more active in field of politics. Yes the raw herbs seem to pass to Europe. But we have a Finnish law also that prohibits even those.
    Sometimes I truly love civil disobedience….

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