Great Construction

Reasons the Life Span Has Lengthened

     The common wisdom these days is that the human life span has been lengthened, and the reason is put down to the progress of science, but I will explain how this view is a tremendous error. The error has to do with the relationship between Chinese medicines and Western medicines. In other words, the short life span of the Japanese people until now was due to the use of Chinese medicines, and this usage is because, as all know, Chinese medicines have to be ingested in large amounts to be efficacious. In recent times, however, the presence of Chinese medicines has practically disappeared, and when the word “medicine” is used in a general sense nowadays, it refers to Western medicines.
     In terms of percentage of toxicity, there is not much difference between Chinese medicines and Western medicines, but because the amount of poisons in Western medicines is less, the harm is less, and this is one reason the life span has lengthened. As can be seen from a historical viewpoint, in ancient times the average life span in Japan was over a hundred years, but in the Japanese imperial year 1128 [468], during the reign of the Yuryaku Emperor, Chinese medicines along with Chinese culture was introduced into Japan, and from that time on, we see the appearance of truly sick individuals together with the beginning of a gradual shortening of the life span.
     Another reason for the lengthening of the life span is that with recent advances in pharmacology, the appearance of side effects has been postponed to the extent of the increased strength of the power of the medicinal toxins that stop the purification process. For that reason, the friction between purification and the stopping of the purification process has been alleviated. Another point is that nowadays the ingredients of medicines differ entirely from those of before, that is, the discovery of antibiotics, which have largely effective results. As doctors and all those with experience well know, even effective medicines, after long usage, cause an immune reaction in patients, and gradually the medicines loses their effectiveness. It is the same as when the medicine is changed, effectiveness improves temporarily and if the process is continued with antibiotics, the patient’s condition becomes of course like a see-saw.
     Thus, the efficacy of medicines has its limits, so even if their condition improves, patients are not free from anxiety, because they have not been cured completely. More than anything else is the fact that has greatly increased the number of those individuals who suffer from an illness but who can still somehow manage daily living. As stated before, sickness can be controlled temporarily, and the duration of postponement has lengthened which is mistaken for progress. Therefore, the number of negatively healthy, listless sick individuals who although young seem elderly has increased, and the number of vigorous, energetic human beings has decreased. Examples of this trend are the conditions of the British and French peoples in recent times. The Japanese authorities, however, who do not perceive this error, do not stint in their admonitions that encourage medical hygiene, discourage overdoing, and stress the importance of taking care of oneself. That such measures have come to be because the overall state of health has deteriorated probably can now be understood by readers. 

Eikô, Issue 234, November 11, 1953
 translation by cynndd