Japanese Kampo medicine treats elderly disorder

It was not until the 4th century had oriental medicine eventually reached the shores of Japan. A few centuries later, practices of Traditional Japanese Medicine (TJM) began to surface island-wide as founder, Sanki Tashiro developed Kampo medicine based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Today, after undergoing much modernization, Kampo medicine is now an important feature of the Japanese healthcare system. Up to 150 of Kampo extract formulas have already been approved by the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW), and are being covered by the country’s national medical insurance.

Essentially, Kampo medicine is an adaptation of TCM. It also includes acupuncture and moxibustion although the study of herbs remains as its primary feature. In a country where herbal tradition is so evidently rich, it is no wonder Japan is ranked by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the top botanicals consuming nation worldwide.

Altogether, there are 365 botanical remedies in Kampo. Rikkunshi-to (which is prepared from eight crude herbs), and Dai-Kenchu-to (a mixture of ginseng, ginger, and zanthoxylum fruit) are both useful in boosting the growth of gastrointestinal hormones and improving blood flow along the gastrointestinal tract. Hangeshashin-to like the above remedies, also showed encouraging results against gastrointestinal diseases, a common elderly disorder in Japan.

Pain management-wise, herbal solutions like Jidabokuippo and Hachimijiogan have proven effective for the seniors, relieving pain from arthritis, bruises, and sprains. Kampo treatments that include biota, coptis, ginkgo, licorice and morinda are used to alleviate depression among the elderly. Ginseng not only decreases the risk of diabetes, it also has anti-ageing properties.

In the US, eastern medicine practices like Kampo and TCM are slowly emerging as an alternative treatment against elderly ailments. As traditional medicine continues to show signs of effectiveness against elderly disorders, perhaps more and more countries will begin to incorporate these practices into their blueprints for elderly care.

(Source: Holistic Primary Care, Medical News Today, Golden Needle Online)

(Image source: Andy Crump, Science Photo Library, Dr. Hiroyuki Ohyama)

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