"During the Muromachi period when increasing amounts of incense were being imported into Japan from abroad, the incense sticks were introduced for the first time from China to Sakai. The incense stick was a simple form of incense developed to enjoy the smell more easily. It contributed enormously to increase the business of the medicinal wholesalers in Sakai that dealt in herbal medicines and incense from China. Later, they began to manufacture the incense sticks themselves." -- History of Baieido
Chinese medicine includes incense from early times. Few if any of the Chinese medical incense text have survived, on such document is called the Ko-fu in Japanese, and the Xian pu in Chinese. We know incense medicine played a major role in Chinese and early Japanese medicine because it was a major import item from China to Japan, as noted above.
It appears to be used to alleviate nervous tension, upset stomach, and used as a general Panacea. Recently a hand-written text by a Japanese physician was discovered, and is now being translated by Esoterics LLC in the United States--it includes incense formulas for several serious illnesses.
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