What is it?

Herbal medicine has been practiced in Japan for many centuries. It has benefited from influences from all over Asia, which were synthesised with the ancient native Japanese medicine and evolved into what is now known as Kanpo. Kanpo is a practical form of herbal medicine based on a wealth of experience and modern clinical research. It is a holistic form of therapy as many factors about the individual are considered when determining which herbs to give. It is widely used in Japan today.

Kanpo treatment is said to support the body's own natural healing mechanisms. Diagnosis involves taking a case history and carefully examining the patient's tongue, abdomen and pulse - from an Oriental medical perspective. A herbal formula is then selected which the practitioner feels reflects the patient needs, as treatment progresses and the patient's condition alters, a different formula will be selected. Originally crude herbs were given to the patient to prepare, but recently herbal extracts are most often given. These come in an extract or granule form and are easy and convenient to take. They are strictly quality controlled and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) is used at every stage from growing to harvesting, and preparing the formulae. These formulae do not rely upon rare species, or the ill treatment of animals. In Japan, Kanpo is regulated by the Japanese Government. All Kanpo medicines are continually being assessed with regards to both safety and efficiency, to ensure their position in the modern context of Japanese primary healthcare. The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine recently reported on a UK safety study of Kanpo medicine. The six-year study took place in a London NHS practice and results, based on blood analysis, showed no adverse effects on patients treated with Kanpo medicine.

Kanpo is used to treat a wide range of conditions, both acute and chronic. It is traditionally used to treat digestive, cardiovascular, respiratory, urinary, reproductive system and skin disorders. In recent times the structure and pattern of diseases has altered with an increase in immune system disorders and stress related conditions - Kanpo is being used to treat these also. It is also said to be of benefit as an adjunct to western medical treatment, softening the adverse reactions. Kanpo can be used in addition to other therapies, as well as complementing treatment from a doctor.

If you are not sure whether Kanpo could help your condition then a discussion with a qualified practitioner will provide further details. In the UK, Kanpo practitioners are members of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine.

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