Author Archives: hkagawa

Allergic rhinitis and Kampo

Allergic rhinitis is annoying and can cause headache. If you suffer from it, you may not be able to enjoy wonderful weather and beautiful flowers. So sad!

If you have runny nose with clear abundant nasal discharge, watery eyes, and sneezing, Ma Huang Fu Zi Xi Xin Tang, which warms your body and removes excess water, may work well. Do you think Kampo herbal treatment takes long time to show it’s effect? Not always. Japanese Kampo practitioner, Dr. Iwao Yamamoto (-2001) was used to bring the Kampo formula powder with him when he went to give a lecture for medical doctors who are interested in Kampo. He asked the audience to raise hand if they suffered from allergic rhinitis, gave the powder formula to them at site, and watched how long it took to stop their sneezing and runny nose. He found out that it usually took only 5 minutes to stop sneezing and 15 minutes to stop runny nose. Isn’t it fast?

Shozo Bando, Kampo Treatment 44 Rules (2006), Medical Yukon (in Japanese)

Evidence-based medicine and Kampo

Evidence-based medicine (EBM) aims to apply the best available evidence gained from the scientific method to clinical decision making (by Wikipedia). In Japan, EBM started to be used in Kampo, traditional Japanese herbal medicine, to re-evaluate the classical anecdotes associated with each Kampo formula and to help the modern medical doctors use Kampo formulas effectively. For example, Wu Zhu Yu Tang, one of the most frequently used formulas for migraine, was given to 80 patients with migraine, and 57 were judged as responders and 23 as non-responders. The researchers analyzed what signs, symptoms, and diagnostic findings were commonly found among the responders or non-responders by using statistical methods. They concluded that “subjective cold feet”, “fluid retention in stomach”, “rib-cage pain”, “tenderness around navel”, “pulsation at abdomen” are the most useful signs to recognize Wu Zhu Yu Tang responders. Nausea was not included in the five most useful signs while it was listed in the classical anecdote (1). I personally think this is a fair evaluation of usage of the classical formulas beyond the different styles of treatments among the schools of thought.

  1. H. Odaguchi et al., Kampo Med, Vol.58 No.6 1099-1105 (2007)

Headache due to constipation

Untreated constipation sometimes causes headache. Major two types of constipation are, hypotonic constipation and spastic constipation. Recently, a Japanese medical doctor, Dr. Yoshiharu Uno found that more than 60% of the difficult chronic constipation cases were actually a mixed type of the two. Dr. Yoshio Otsuka who is the son of Dr. Keisetsu Otsuka, the modern Kampo master in Japan, developed Kampo formulas that treat those three types of constipation as mentioned below.

People with hypotonic constipation have hard thick stools, abdominal distension, tend not to feel the urge to defecate, and no abdominal pain. For those people, a Kampo formula named, Da Jian Zhong Tang (Major Construct the Middle Decoction) which promotes the peristalsis in the colon, is effective. People with spastic constipation have pebble-like dry stools or pencil-like thin stools, abdominal pain, alternating constipation and lose stools, and do not feel completed after defecation. For those people, a Kampo formula named, Xiao Jian Zhong Tang (Minor Construct the Middle Decoction) which relaxes the smooth muscle in the intestine, is effective.

For the people with the mixed type, the mixture of Da Jain Zhong Tang and Xiao Jian Zhong Tang named, Zhong Jiang Zhong tang (Medium Construct the Middle Decoction) has been found to be effective.

Although some purgatives tend to develop habitualness and require higher doses to be effective after the long term use, those Kampo formulas don’t contain herbs to cause that problem. That is a great news for the people with chronic constipation.

Do you have headache on rainy days?

After the long rainy days, it’s finally sunny this week!  Some people have headache only on rainy days or right before rain starts.  Japanese Kampo researchers found out that more than 90% of people who experience this type of headache respond well to Wu Ling San (1).  Wu Ling San has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for “removing water toxin” from the body.  In Kampo, the use of Wu Ling San is expanded from toddler’s acute vomitting/diarrhea such as in noro virus infection, to brain edema, trigeminal neuralgia, shingles, and headache from reduced volume of spinal fluid.  If you suffer from rainy day headache, call us!  We can help you.

(1) Journal of Kampo Medicine, vol.52 12 (2005) (in Japanese)

Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang for eye disease

Ling Gui Zhu Gan tang is often used for stuffy chest, coughing up phlegm, dizziness, and vertigo according to the major textbooks in traditional Chinese medicine. However, one of the founders of Japanese Kampo, Dr. Toudou Yoshimasu (1702-1773) and his disciples often used this formula successfully for eye diseases caused by abnormal water metabolism.

The following is from Dr. Yoshimasu’s book. A monk came to see him for his eye disease. He could see but not for a long time. When he saw things for a long time, a lot of big, small, rectangular, circular things appeared in the sight, then severe eye-piercing pain started which was intolerable. He had this condition for three years. Dr. Yoshimasu examined him and found that he had upper surging of Qi and muscle spasm. The doctor gave him Ling Gui Zhu Gan tang plus Chuan Xiong & Da Huang. The monk’s eye disease was resolved in few tens days.

One of the modern Kampo masters in Japan, Dr. Ken Fujihira, reported that 49 patients with chronic axial optic neuritis was treated with this formula and that 95.5% showed improvement on eyesight(1).

(1) Ken Fujihira ”Japanese Journal of Ophthalmology” vol.55, 4 (in Japanese)

Wu Ling San for trigeminal neuralgia

It is said that the first doctor who used Wu Ling San for trigeminal neuralgia was Dr. Keisetsu Otsuka (1900-1970) in Japan.

A housemaid of Dr. Otsuka’s neighbor came to see him for severe pain on her face on the left. It was along the first branch of the trigeminal nerve. Her pulse was floating and small. He gave her Ge Gen Tang for two days. No effect. Then he gave her Xiang Xiong Tang for two days. No effect. Then he realized that she has severe thirst, and she urinated only 1-2 times per day. He gave her Wu Ling San. Her pain was reduced significantly within two days, and it was completely cured in four days.

Keisetu Otsuka “Practical Kampo Treatment Illustrated by Cases” 5th edition Nanzando (2000) p.31 (in Japanese) Translated by Hiromi Kagawa

Chronic headache cured by Wu Zhu Yu Tang – 1

42 yr-old female with pale complexion and middle-sized body. She had chronic headache for years which was getting worse those days and worst after menstruation. The headache occurred once or twice a month and was only on one side of the head. She vomited when the pain was on the right side of her head. She could not eat nor drink for 2 days when she had headache and could not eat for few days after that. She always felt preceding stiff neck followed by her headache. Bowel movements were once everyday, menstruation was regular, no ribcage pain, slight glomus was palpated in epigastrium during abdominal diagnosis. Wu Zhu Yu Tang was given. She took it for three weeks and her chronic headache was cured.

Keisetu Otsuka “Practical Kampo Treatment Illustrated by Cases” 5th edition Nanzando (2000) p.24-25 (in Japanese) Translated by Hiromi Kagawa