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Kampō (or Kanpō , 漢方) medicine is the Japanese study and adaptation of Chinese medicine. The first Chinese medical works to be introduced to Japan is said to have occurred around the 4th or 5th Century A.D.. Since then, the Japanese have created their own unique herbal medical system and diagnosis. Kampo utilizes most of the Chinese medical system including acupuncture and moxibustion, but is primarily concerned with the study of herbs.

Treatment of psychological disorders in traditional Japanese medicine

Today in Japan, Kampo is integrated into the national health care system. Since 1967, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has approved 148 Kampo formulas for coverage and reimbursement in the national health insurance plan. Every approved formula produced by different manufacturers is composed of exactly the same ingredients under the Ministry’s standardization methodology. The formulas are therefore prepared under strict manufacturing conditions that rival pharmaceutical companies. Rather than modifying formulas as in Chinese medicine, the Japanese Kampo tradition uses fixed and precise combinations of herbs in standardized amounts according to the classical literature of Chinese medicine. Extensive modern scientific research in Japan has validated the efficacy of Kampo formulas. Today, fully 75% of Japanese physicians prescribe Kampo formulas.

In the United States, Kampo is practiced mostly by acupuncturists, Chinese medicine practitioners, naturopath physicians, and other alternative medicine professionals. Kampo herbal formulas are studied under clinical trials, such as the clinical study of Sho-saiko-to (H09) for treatment of hepatitis C at New York Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and liver cirrhosis caused by hepatitis C at UCSD Liver Center.Both clinical trials are sponsored by Honso USA, Inc., a US branch of Honso Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Nagoya, Japan.

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