Kampo is a Japanese thought and treatment system of illness. Kampo developed after traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) was brought to Japan from China in the 4th or 5th century. "Kampo" is the pronunciation of two Chinese characters. The kan (han) character means "from China," and po (ho) means "way."
Although Kampo shares some aspects with TCM, it is a separate system of herbal combinations, forms of acupuncture, and moxibustion. Kampo has a vibrant history of books and manuscripts written by experts about this form of medicine; the published history of Kampo spans ancient times till today.
One practice is moxibustion, which is the burning of herbs on or near acupuncture points. Kampo uses this method more than TCM. The role of moxibustion in Kampo has grown in importance and the government now issues a license just for moxibustion over acupuncture points.
Today, Kampo is integrated into the mainstream Japanese healthcare system. Herbal combinations are manufactured under strict government supervision and laws that are as stringent as for pharmaceuticals. Since 1967, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has authorized 148 Kampo formulas to be prescribed and covered to patients under the nationalized health plan. Kampo is a very popular treatment in Japan today. For example, more than 1.5 million patients take the Kampo herbal formula Sho-saiko-to for hepatitis B and C, according to Alan Glombicki, MD, an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Texas.

Related Terms

Acupuncture, Kampo, moxa, moxibustion, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), traditional Japanese medicine.