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1.  Acupuncture and moxibustion for stress-related disorders 
Acupuncture and moxibustion, which medical doctors are licensed by the government of Japan to perform, can improve the psychological relationship between doctors and patients, especially when it is disturbed by a “game”, a dysfunctional interpersonal interaction that is repeated unintentionally. This advantage is due to the essential properties of acupuncture and moxibustion. Acupuncture and moxibustion are helpful in treating somatoform disorders, especially musculoskeletal symptoms. In Japan, a holistic acupuncture and moxibustion therapy called Sawada-style has been developed. This is based on fundamental meridian points that are considered to have effects on central, autonomic nervous, immune, metabolic, and endocrine systems to regulate the whole body balance. In addition, some of the fundamental points have effects on Qi, blood, and water patterns associated with major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, eating disorders, and somatoform disorders. The fixed protocol of Sawada-style would be suitable for large-scale, randomized, controlled studies in the future. Recent systematic reviews indicate that electroacupuncture would be a useful addition to antidepressant therapy for some symptoms accompanying fibromyalgia. Acupuncture and moxibustion are also recommended for irritable bowel syndrome, instead of Western drug therapy. Surprisingly, the dorsal prefrontal cerebral cortex, which is associated with a method of scalp acupuncture applied for gastrointestinal disorders, has been found to be activated in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. It is quite possible that regulation of this cortical area is related to the effect of scalp acupuncture. This acupuncture method can be effective not only for irritable bowel syndrome but also for other stress-related gastrointestinal disorders.
doi:10.1186/1751-0759-8-7
PMCID: PMC3903561  PMID: 24456818
Acupuncture; Moxibustion; Stress; Fibromyalgia; Functional gastrointestinal disorder; Irritable bowel syndrome; Autonomic nervous system; Hypothalamo-pituitary adrenal axis; Sawada-style holistic therapy
2.  Seed germination and seedling development ecology in world-wide populations of a circumboreal Tertiary relict 
AoB Plants  2012;2012:pls007.
Ecological traits of the circumboreal plant Viburnum opulus were examined to improve understanding of the variation of populations occurring in the same biome but on different continents. Seedling development/emergence is shown to be highly similar but some degree of variation was present in other traits, among populations.
Background and aims
Temperate forests are disjunct in the Northern Hemisphere, having become fragmented from the earlier widespread (Tertiary) boreotropical forest. We asked ‘What are the contemporary patterns of population variation in ecological traits of a Tertiary relict in a macroecological context?’. This issue underpins our understanding of variation in populations occurring in the same biome but on different continents.
Methodology
We examined characters associated with root and shoot emergences among populations of Viburnum opulus in temperate forests of Asia, North America and Europe. This species has complex seedling emergence extending over several years and requiring various temperature cues.
Principal results
Populations varied in germination responses and clustered into groups that were only partly related to varietal status. Whereas roots (at warm temperatures) and shoots (following a cold period) simultaneously emerged from seeds of all populations when simulated dispersal occurred in winter, they were delayed in some populations when dispersal occurred in summer.
Conclusions
Viburnum opulus populations, some separated by 10 300 km, showed high similarity in seedling development and in germination phenology, and we suggest that stabilizing selection has played a key role in maintaining similar dormancy mechanisms. Nevertheless, there was some degree of variation in other germination characters, suggesting local adaptation.
doi:10.1093/aobpla/pls007
PMCID: PMC3328982  PMID: 22514787
3.  Mental and somatic symptoms related to suicidal ideation in patients visiting a psychosomatic clinic in Japan 
Patients with suicidal ideation (SI) have various mental or somatic symptoms. A questionnaire-based interview elicited details concerning mental and somatic symptoms in patients visiting a psychosomatic clinic in Japan. Univariate logistic regression analyses followed by multiple regression models using a stepwise method were selected for identifying the candidate symptoms. Overall, symptoms related to depression were associated with SI in both sexes. Although women showed more various somatic symptoms associated with SI than men, many of those associations were diminished once severity of the depression was controlled. The current results suggest that a variety of self-reported symptoms, mainly related to depression, might reveal suicidal risk in outpatients with an urban hospital clinical setting.
PMCID: PMC2840559  PMID: 20360900
suicidal ideation; psychosomatic clinic; subjective symptoms
4.  An increase in ALS incidence on the Kii Peninsula, 1960-2009: A possible link to change in drinking water source 
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis  2012;13(4):347-350.
We investigated changes in the incidence of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in the Koza/Kozagawa/Kushimoto area (K. area) in the Kii Peninsula, Japan in 1960–2009. Probable and definite ALS cases diagnosed using El Escorial criteria were collected during a five-decade period: period I-V, 1960–2009. Forty-three ALS patients matched the selection criteria in the overall K. area, including three patients on Oshima, a small island opposite the mainland K. area. The age- and gender-adjusted incidence of ALS in the overall K. area (standardized for the 2005 Japanese population) decreased from 5.47/100,000 (95% CI 1.86–9.08) in period I to 0.61/100,000 (95% CI-0.28–1.50) in period III, and then increased to 4.39/100,000 (95% CI 1.70–7.07) in periodV. On Oshima, the age- and gender-adjusted incidence of ALS was 9.45/100,000 (95% CI—7.39–26.29) in period V. The present research indicates an increase of ALS incidence in the K. area, especially on Oshima. A limitation of this study was the small population.
doi:10.3109/17482968.2012.674140
PMCID: PMC3409458  PMID: 22632441
Focus area; Kii-ALS; incidence; new cluster

Results 1-4 (4)