January 4, 2019
It all felt very familiar. I have used Chinese herbs on and off for years and find them very effective for certain ailments. I first came across ‘kampo’ in Japan where the herbal system runs in parallel with the modern, science-based medical system.
I told this to the herbalist but he wasn’t interested in chit-chat. He asked me about my digestion. I told him I don’t eat fish or meat.
‘Hmm,’ he said in a disappointed way. ‘Vegetarian.’
I nodded. ‘But I eat eggs and cheese. Not all the time but, you know, a bit.’
This didn’t interest him either.
‘What about oyster shell?’ he asked.
I shook my head. Who eats oyster shell? Seaweed, yes. Oyster shell, nein danke.
The herbalist was persistent. ‘Oyster shell,’ he repeated.
I shook my head again.
He was putting together a prescription, he explained, and wanted to know if I would allow oyster shell to be included.
I didn’t see why not. It wasn’t the oyster after all. I told him how I’d once discovered cicada shells (the skin discarded by moulting cicadas) in some herbs prescribed in Japan. I’d noticed insect legs when I tipped the contents into a pot prior to boiling them up.
The herbalist smiled for the first time. ‘Ah, cicada skin,’ he said. ‘Very good herb.’