Many young women are increasingly turning to “kampo,” the Japanese version of traditional Chinese medicine, in hopes it will make them feel and look better.
Kampo comes in many forms, including powders, tablets and infusions. Now that it’s covered by health insurance, the number of hospitals offering it is rising.
A woman in her 30s living in Tokyo said she was experiencing chills and fatigue, but doctors always told her nothing was wrong.
She turned to kampo and improved her diet, and now she says she is feeling much better.
“It used to be middle-aged and older people who came to see us for advice,” said an official at Tokyo-based kampo counseling firm Nihondo Co., which operates more than 30 pharmacies. “(But the number of) young women has been increasing rapidly since a few years ago.”
He said women who want to try kampo for health, beauty and diet reasons come in for advice.
More women are suffering from stress and hormonal problems these days, especially with more of them working than ever before.
Acsys Un Co., an herbal medicine consulting and sales company in Tokyo, has been holding courses on kampo since 2004. Tuition is more than 100,000 yen for 20 hours.
Even applicants from distant parts of the country apply to take the classes, according to the firm.
“Almost all of the students are women in their 20s and 30s,” said Acsys Un President Shizue Minemura. “Many are eager to take care of the health of their families and themselves.”
Nihondo, too, offers a wide range of courses, including a one-day practical use course as well as classes on herbal medicine and Chinese cooking.
Meanwhile, doctors are showing growing interest in kampo, though some had previously said it lacked scientific grounds. Some universities now offer courses on Japanese and Chinese herbal medicine.
Kampo medicine manufacturer Tsumura & Co. reported that the number of doctors taking part in herbal medicine courses it has been holding exclusively for physicians has grown from about 1,300 in 1999 to about 4,000 last year.
“Virtually all surgeons and anesthesiologists use kampo in treatment,” Tsumura’s official in charge of the course said. “Many participate in the course feeling there’s a limit to Western medical science.”
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