Traditional Chinese medicine and Kampo: a review from the distant past for the future

J Int Med Res. 2006 May-Jun;34(3):231-9. doi: 10.1177/147323000603400301.


Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a complete system of healing that developed in China about 3000 years ago, and includes herbal medicine, acupuncture, moxibustion and massage, etc. In recent decades the use of TCM has become more popular in China and throughout the world. Traditional Japanese medicine has been used for 1500 years and includes Kampo-yaku (herbal medicine), acupuncture and acupressure. Kampo is now widely practised in Japan and is fully integrated into the modern health-care system. Kampo is based on TCM but has been adapted to Japanese culture. In this paper we review the history and characteristics of TCM and traditional Japanese medicine, i.e. the selection of traditional Chinese herbal medicine treatments based on differential diagnosis, and treatment formulations specific for the 'Sho' (the patient's symptoms at a given moment) of Japanese Kampo--and look at the prospects for these forms of medicine.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional* / history
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional* / statistics & numerical data
  • Medicine, Kampo* / history


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal