Objectives: Low back pain (LBP) is a chronic condition. Although Western treatments are available, Kampo (traditional Japanese) medicine is widely prescribed and covered by health insurance in Japan. Goshajinkigan (GJG), a Kampo formula, is commonly used to treat LBP. However, cases we have occasionally been encountered in which GJG did not show the expected effects. Hence, the purpose of this retrospective study was to investigate patient factors important in developing the effects of GJG.
Methods: This was a retrospective observational study based at the Center for Kampo Medicine, Keio University Hospital. Data were retrieved from the medical records of 28 patients who visited our hospital between May 2008 and March 2013 and who received GJG for LBP. The patients were divided into responders and non-responders based on whether their LBP improved post treatment. The groups were compared with respect to daily GJG dose, incidence of spine disease, and side effects.
Results: Ten patients (responders) reported an improvement in LBP within 6 months. One patient experienced decreased appetite as a side effect. Nine patients reported no improvement (non-responders). The number of patients prescribed the usual daily dose of GJG (7.5 g) was significantly higher among responders than it was among non-responders (p = 0.023), and the number of patients with spine disease was significantly greater among non-responders than it was among responders (p = 0.020). The number of patients with spinal stenosis was significantly higher among non-responders than it was among responders (p = 0.011). Therefore, the usual daily dose of GJG provided significant relief of LBP, particularly in patients without any spine disease.
Conclusions: Routine daily administration of GJG in patients without spine disease seems to lead to the effects of the product. However, further investigations using the above-mentioned parameters are needed to confirm these findings.
Keywords: Japanese; Kampo; complementary and alternative medicine; herbal; traditional.