Use of herbal medicine for treating psychiatric disorders in Japan

Shigenobu Kanba, Kazuo Yamada, Hiroko Mizushima, Masahiro Asai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Alongside the Western pharmacotherapy that is now the major medical modality in Japan, we continue to offer a number of traditional remedies. We prefer to allow patients to choose between these two approaches, after explaining the advantages and potential adverse effects of each. Research into the traditional treatments continues, and we now have a number of studies available concerning the efficacy of oriental herbal medicine (Kampo medicine) in Japan. There are about 120 different prescriptions available for treatment. Herbs are believed to affect both the psyche and soma, and Kampo medicine does not differentiate between them. Improvement brought about by herbal medicine is usually mild and slow, but sometimes very drastic. Side effects are rare. Those that do occur are mostly allergic reactions to natural substances. Therefore, herbal medicine is especially useful for elderly patients and patients with physical complications. Prescription is traditionally selected by judging Sho of a patient. Sho is equivalent to a syndrome, but comprises psycho and somatic symptoms and signs obtained by traditional physical examination that focuses constitution, general physical condition, pulse, abdominal signs, and examination of the tang. However, currently modern diagnoses are also applied to deciding upon the prescription. Western physicians can select the appropriate preparation without having a special knowledge of Oriental medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S331-S333
JournalPsychiatry and clinical neurosciences
Issue numberSUPPL.
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1998
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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