Kampo Concepts & Terminology

Understanding Sho: A Central Concept in Kampo Medicine

The concept of sho plays a pivotal role in Kampo medicine, acting as a guiding principle in determining the most suitable herbal treatment for an individual. Sho is a Kampo diagnosis that factors in a patient’s symptoms and disease patterns to establish a treatment plan.

Interestingly, the concept of sho distinguishes Kampo medicine from Western medicine. The sho approach perceives patients as unique individuals with different responses to similar diseases, rather than placing them into fixed diagnostic categories. Thus, patients with the same Western diagnosis may present different sho and, consequently, require different Kampo prescriptions.

Conversely, it’s not uncommon for the same Kampo formula to be prescribed for patients with varying Western diagnoses, provided they display the same sho. This emphasizes the personalized nature of Kampo therapy, honing in on the individual’s specific symptoms and body response patterns rather than a generalized disease category.

Sho determination is deeply rooted in the Eastern perspective of human anatomy and physiology, which is distinctly different from its Western counterpart. It employs a unique cognitive paradigm that integrates the philosophies and principles of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). These include concepts like Yin and Yang, which represent opposing yet complementary forces, the Exterior and Interior of the body, and Cold and Heat, representing different states of disease and health.

Furthermore, Sho considers the concepts of Vacuity (deficiency) and Repletion (excess), which signify an imbalance in the body’s energy, and the interaction among the Five organs – heart, lungs, spleen, kidneys, and liver. It also takes into account the flow of Ki (or qi), blood, and fluid, all integral to maintaining the body’s balance and vitality. Hence, the sho diagnosis reflects an intricate blend of these factors, aiming to restore the body’s natural equilibrium and promote overall wellbeing.