Japanese Health Beliefs and Practices

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Japanese Health Beliefs and Practices
Kristin Santiago
Cal State University, Dominguez Hills
School of Nursing
Concepts of Professional Nursing Practice
BSN 306, Section18
Caole A. Shea, PhD, RN, FAAN
Novemeber 4, 2012
Japanese Health Beliefs and Practices
As the Japanese began migrating to the United States in 1885, throughout the decades, the cultural integration and assimilation of the western culture has been embedded into the Japanese Americans. Early traditional Japanese immigrants are called Issei and the second-generation Japanese Americans who were born and educated in the U.S. are called Nisei (Lipson & Dibble, 2008). Health beliefs and practices vary among the different generation of the Japanese, however, many of their viewpoints and attitudes are rooted from their Japanese background. To better care for Japanese elders effectively, it is significant that health care providers have knowledge regarding “historical experiences of the cohort of elders” and traditional Japanese beliefs and practices (Tanabe, 1990). This paper will discuss the influence of culture on the way a father of a Nisei Japanese individual’s experiences and how they cope and manage an acute myocardial infarction.

The parents of a second-generation Nisei arrived into the U.S. on vacation in visiting their two children, son and daughter, living in Southern California. The parents were on vacation here for two months. The father was 72 years old and the mother 70 years of age. I interviewed the only son of the parents because the elder Japanese parents spoke very little English. During the end of their first month of vacation in the U.S., the father, father Aoyagi, began developing symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, weakness, increasing feelings of anxiety from time to time, and indigestion. At first, father Aoyagi related the symptoms to not being in his own home environment in Japan, California pollution and the way Japanese Americans prepare their food was too salty. Father Aoyagi requested for his children to purchase herbs from the Asian market. Some of these herbs included ashitaba, dokudani, genoshouko, kudzu, kuko and some others. Each herb were of different use but were used mainly to help with indigestion, detox from the pollution, weakness, and ciruculation. After several days, father Aoyagi began to feel a little better but the anxiety and headaches seemed to continue. During the first week of the second month, father Aoyagi’s symptoms returned with added tingling in hands and tongue, intermittent pain in chest, and increased levels of anxiety. Father Aoyagi blamed the symptoms on being home sick, the unclean food preparation, stresses of not attending to his responsibilities back in Japan which caused him to smoke more, and mainly his anxiety from his stress. Mother Aoyagi requested the son to take his father to an acupuncturist for relaxation, restoration of energy flow, increase of circulation, and to alleviate the numbness and tingling. The son took father Aoyagi to a well known acupuncturist in the Japanese community and there, acupuncture and moxibustion was performed on his father. There are many forms of moxibustion, however, the type executed on father Aoyagi used was the medicinal application moxibustion that does not result in blistering. Moxibustion is an external heat therapy used over acumoxa points which mainly requires the use of mugwort commonly, but other herbs can also be used (Wilcox, 2008). For father Aoyagi, the acupuncturist used acupuncture and moxibustion in combination by applying the herbal ingredients paste onto the acupuncture needles. No blisters or scars were noted on the father Aoyagi so a mild form of heat must have been utilized. The acupuncturist did not inquire about the patient’s home western medications prior to the process because it did not effect the procedure, nor did father Aoyagi offer the information. Herbal therapy, acupuncture, moxibustion, and shiatsu were very common...
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