MBA Japan

Traditional Medicine in Japan


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During the 5th to 9th century, Buddhist clerics from China introduced Chinese medicine to Korea and Japan. Traveling clerics disseminated Chinese medical knowledge throughout these countries more extensively during The Tang Dynasty (18 June 6184 June 907).

Chinese Medicine is a complete system of a medical path, physiological concepts, and therapeutic interventions that developed out of the matrix of Chinese civilization over a period spanning for more than four thousand years. The main modality of Chinese Medicine is the use of a wide pharmacopoeia of over 6,000 herbs and other natural products for the prevention and treatment of diseases and the promotion of health.

Chinese Medicine has four main components: acupuncture, herbal medicine, tui na, and qi gong. Acupuncture is a therapeutic method that promotes health and well-being. Its purpose is to balance the flow of energy that permits the body to "heal itself by inserting fine needles. The needles most usually used in present-day practice are made of stainless steel and are of approximately the same diameter as a medium thickness guitar string. Herbal medicines are generally delivered in multiple formulas specially formulated for a clinical syndrome or constellation of symptoms. Tui na is a system of Chinese massage used for lymphatic drainage and muscle rejuvenation and Qi gong is an aspect of Chinese medicine relating the coordination of different breathing patterns with several physical postures and movements of the body.


Kampo is the Japanese study and adaptation of Traditional Herbal Chinese medicine that experienced changes in therapeutic orientation from the original Chinese methodology including the development of standardized herbal extracts. Kampo medications have been accepted for National Health Insurance coverage in Japan since 1967. Kampo was the official system of medicine in Japan until 1868, when modern Western medicine was introduced by the Dutch to Japan and popularized.

Over half of Japanese clinicians used Kampo formulas in their daily practice either alone or in combination with modern drugs according to the classical literature of Chinese medicine. Kampo medicines are produced by several manufacturers. Nevertheless, each medicine is composed of exactly the same ingredients under the Ministry's standardization methodology. The medicines are therefore prepared under strict manufacturing conditions that rival pharmaceutical corporations. The two most important companies making kampo medicines are Tsumura and Kanebo.

Tibetan Medicine

Tibetan medicine is a distinct practice of medicine that uses a multifaceted approach to diagnose, incorporating techniques such as pulse analysis and urinalysis, and utilizes behavior and dietary modification, medicines made of natural materials (e.g., herbs and minerals) and physical therapies (e.g. Tibetan acupuncture, moxabustion, etc.) to treat illness. Tibetan Medicine derives largely from Ayurvedic medicine, but with significant influence from Chinese medicine, and some Unani (Greco-persian) with a main philosophical basis in Buddhism as practiced in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, and the western regions of China.

A person who becomes ill in Japan has a number of alternative options, among them: hospitals, clinics and the assistance of traditional healers, such as herbalists, masseurs, and acupuncturists.

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