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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

From the common cold to sleeping problems, kanpō can offer natural relief

Staff writer

Hochūekikitō 補中益気湯

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Medicinal roots: Samples of dried roots, seeds and other materials used for kanpoō treatments at Kitasato University Oriental Medicine Research Center. YOSHIAKI MIURA

Made mostly from ginseng, astragalus root and bupleurum root, this was the best-selling kanpō medicine in Japan in 2009, according to statistics released by the Japan Kampo Medicines Manufacturers Association. It's often prescribed to post-surgery patients to help boost their appetite, and to prevent flu.

Daikenchūtō 大建中湯

Mostly skinned, dried ginger and Japanese pepper, this formula warms the bowels, eases nausea and relieves pain. It's becoming increasingly common for surgeons to prescribe this formula after a major abdominal operation.

Kakkontō 葛根湯

For common-cold relief, kakkontō includes pueraria and other herbs. It's effective when taken during the early stage of a cold. It's good for rhinitis, headache, stiff neck, myalgia, shoulder pain, etc.

Maōtō 麻黄湯

Made from ephedra and other herbs, this treatment became popular with flu patients when the extreme, though rare, side effects of Western flu drugs such as Tamiflu were reported on in the Japanese national news. It helps relieve sudden fever and joint pains.

Shōseiryūtō 小青竜湯

This consists of pinellia tuber, skinned and dried ginger, and licorice, among other ingredients. It's a popular remedy for hay fever as it relieves rhinitis, and it's often preferred over Western pharmaceutical allergy drugs because it doesn't induce drowsiness.

Tōkishakuyakusan 当帰芍薬散

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Dried and packed: A selection of kanpoō medications commonly prescribed by doctors in Japan. TOMOKO OTAKE

A six-component formula including angelica and peony herbs, this relieves a wide range of symptoms including sensitivity to cold, anemia, fatigue, lower abdominal pain, stiff neck, tinnitus, palpitations, irregular menstruation and headaches. It has also been effective for menopausal symptoms.

Kamishōyōsan 加味逍遙散

A formula of 10 herbs including angelica, bupleurum and gardenia, this is prescribed to patients suffering from hot flashes, stiff neck, fatigue, irritation, constipation, sensitivity to cold, insomnia and irregular menstruation.

Keishibukuryōgan 桂枝茯苓丸

Containing cinnamon bark, poria cocos, peony, peony root bark and peach kernel, this is given to those suffering symptoms of lower abdominal pain (occasionally), stiff neck, headache, hot flashes with cold legs, irregular menstruation, blood stagnation and associated somatic and mental symptoms such as irritability, confusion, freckles, eczema/dermatitis, acne, etc.

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