Gunpowder happened to be produced while seeking the elixir of life. Saltpeter (i.e., potassium nitrate) is an essential substance required to produce gunpowder. There are no saltpeter lodes in Japan. So an aged-soil method called Kodo-hou, which was developed to make saltpeter using the soil from underfloors of houses, was used after guns were introduced. It is not clear where and how this method was invented. The only culture-related method, called Baiyou-hou, was adopted in the Gokayama region of Kaga-han, now Ishikawa. The Edo period was so peaceful that the demand for making saltpeter subsided, and the production technology fell into decline. The Chichibu area, now Saitama, thrived in the production of
gunpowder when under the control of Oshi-han. Especially, at the end of the Edo period, much gunpowder was required to defend Edo Bay following the arrival of Admiral Perry. Oshi-han was ordered to defend Edo Bay and bought the gunpowder used from the Chichibu territory. By that time, the materials used for the Kodo-hou method became more available, leading to a familiarized way to make saltpeter. The author succeeded in producing saltpeter applying the Kodo-hou method and using the same material as in the Edo period, confirming the correctness of that material. It was personally experienced how hard it was to make saltpeter in those days. In Chichibu, nearly 400 festivals are held each year, and people set off fireworks as a sign of dedication to not only big shrines, but also small shrines. This suggests that there used to be abundant gunpowder in this area.
Lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as testicular hydrocele and elephantiasis, is one of the neglected tropical disease (NTDs). This infectious disease occurs when filarial parasites are transmitted to humans through mosquitoes (in Japan Culex pipiens pallens).
Japan is the first country to control lymphatic filariasis and eradicate it. Controlling and eradicating it was mainly based on blood examination and chemotherapy with diethylcarbamazine (DEC).
In 1962, the government of Japan initiated the National Filariasis Control Program in some areas of Kyushu (e.g., Kagoshima Prefecture including the highly endemic Amami Islands), Shikoku (Ehime Prefecture) and Tokyo (Hachijo-kojima Island in the southern Izu archipelago).The program was extremely successful, and the number of microfilaria carriers decreased quickly.
In the highly endemic area of Okinawa, formerly called Ryukyu, which was under U.S. occupation from 1945 to 1972, the eradication program was started in 1965 with the assistance of the Japanese government and the U.S. Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands (USCAR).
In January 1965, a filariasis control campaign was started on the Miyako Islands based on the dedication of the community inhabitants. This control activity then encouraged campaigns on other islands (Yaeyama and the main island of Okinawa).
Lymphatic filariasis was finally eliminated from all Okinawa Islands in 1978. A stone monument commemorating the eradication of filariasis was built in the front garden of the Miyako Health Center on November 25, 1988. The unveiling ceremony also celebrated the completion of filariasis control on Okinawa Islands and throughout all of Japan.
Controlling and eradicating lymphatic filariasis in Japan is the result of Japan's world-class pharmacy and medical wisdom, as well as the efforts of industry, government and academia. It is a great drama full of humanism.
In the late 1980s to early 1990s in Japan, when third-generation cephalosporin antibiotics were frequently used, serious nosocomial infections caused by methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) came to occur at many large-scale hospitals.
The lawsuits of the medical institutions regarding deaths due to MRSA nosocomial infection, such as sepsis and pneumonia, were widely reported in the media.
One of the reasons for the MRSA outbreaks was that effective antibiotics against MRSA had not yet been approved in Japan.
In September 1989, an officer of the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW) urgently requested Shionogi to submit data and documents regarding Vancomycin Hydrochloride injection as a new drug application for MRSA treatment antibiotics.
Shionogi promptly discussed this with Eli Lilly, gathered clinical and non-clinical data and documents, and applied for Vancomycin Hydrochloride injection approval to the MHW in December 1990. It was finally approved in October 1991.
Vancomycin Hydrochloride injection has contributed to improving MRSA infectious treatment and
drastically decreased the numbers of death by these infections in Japan, and subsequently media reports subsided.
This article describes the development history of MRSA treatment antibiotics （Vancomycin Hydrochloride injection）in Japan, including specific communications with MHW, Eli Lilly and clinical expert doctors.
Nitre was a substance essential for making gunpowder, of which the process for making was to be one of the top secrets from the middle to early modern period in Japan. Nitrate, from nitre, was directly prepared from nitre-enriched deposits in most countries; however, nitre deposits were rare in Japan. Hence, nitrate was produced from aged-soil using a method called Kodo-hou in Japan. There are a few pieces of literature that refer to making nitrate from aged-soil. We report here some experimental evidence for purification of potassium nitrate（KNO3）from aged-soil using the Kodo-hou method. Further, the levels of both ions such as cations（Na+ and K+）and anions（Cl-, NO3-, SO42-）in ash and aged-soil are also measured and compared to normal soil.
Angelica Acutiloba Root is an old herbal medicine with a long history. Since ancient times, it has been used as a remedy for gynecological illness with chief complaints of hematogenous tonic, chills, menstrual irregularity, and anemia.
In recent years, several components have been elucidated as the ingredients of Angelica Acutiloba Root through research on pharmacology and natural product chemistry. It was found that the main component was believed to be a phthalide-type ligustilide. For ligustilide, sedative action, central depressant action, and psychotropic action were reported in pharmacological studies. Therefore, the author believes that Angelica Acutiloba Root could be used as an agent for mental and neurological disorders.
However, in former pharmacology journals there are no descriptions of ligustilide as a component of Angelica Acutiloba Root. Regarding ligustilide, in 1960, Mitsuhashi et al. isolated a new active ingredient of phthalides from the essential oil component of Hokkai Angelica. On the other hand, the first study on the ingredients of Angelica Acutiloba Root was conducted by Kariyone et al. in 1936, focusing on the essential oil
of a fruit with botanical origins from Angelica Acutiloba Root. Kariyone et al. proved that Ligusticumsaure lacton existed as the main aromatic ingredient in the essential oil of Angelica Acutiloba Root.
Therefore, this time the author researched the historical background of Angelica Acutiloba Root ingredients. He then examined the relationship between ligustilide and Ligusticumsaure lacton provided by Kariyone et al. As a result of this literary investigation, the author believes that the Ligusticumsaure lacton once reported by Kariyone et al. is a mixture of several phthalides including ligustilide.
The focus of this study is the Nakatomi Memorial Medicine Museum established in 1995, including the historical background and items on display. In the first section, we summarize the history of the medicine patent system in the Tosu area of Saga Prefecture. There are 130,000 items displayed, which are divided into three categories, such as the Alban Atkin Pharmacy including 20,000 medicines and many prescriptions, specimens of crude medicines including plants, animals and minerals, and patented medicinal goods. It became evident that the items should be investigated in more detail and carefully maintained from now on.
A set of Li Shi-Zhen's Chinese Materia Medica, Bencao Gangmu, reprinted in 1669 and containing many inserted notes and letters, was found at an antiquarian book seller in Kyoto. The addressee of the letters showed that a former person possessing the literature Rinsho Nagai, the father of Dr. Nagayoshi Nagai who is called the first pioneer of natural products chemistry in Japan.