Marketing ‘Women’s Medicines:’ Gender, OTC Herbal Medicines and Medical Culture in Modern Japan1

in Asian Medicine
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Abstract

This essay examines the marketing of ‘women’s medicines’ as a means to understand the evolving relationship between commodity culture and medical culture from the nineteenth century to the present. It examines the print advertisements associated with two of the best-known medicinal products for women, Tsumura Corporation’s Jitsubosan and Kitani Company’s Chūjōtō, two herbal decoctions that claimed efficacy for a wide range of gender specific ills. From the late nineteenth century through the 1950s, as Tsumura and Kitani negotiated the government-sponsored program of medical modernization and an intensely competitive pharmaceutical marketplace, they responded with aggressive advertisement campaigns that medicalised the female body by defining an expanding list of symptoms that required treatment. In the 1950s, however, Kitani and Tsumura confronted a declining market as clinic-based care became routine. As a result, they experimented with new products, defined new efficacies, and ultimately succeeded in repositioning their products in relation to the care now readily available from medical professionals.

Asian Medicine

Journal of the International Association for the Study of Traditional Asian Medicine

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