The Japanese traditional herbal medicine, Kampo, has gradually reemerged and 148 different formulations (mainly herbal extracts) can be prescribed within the national health insurance system. The objective of this article is to introduce Kampo and to present information from previous clinical studies that tested Kampo formulae. In addition, suggestions on the design of future research will be stated. The literature search was based on a summary, up until January 2009, by the Japanese Society of Oriental Medicine and included only those trials which were also available in either Pubmed or ICHUSHI (Japan Medical Abstracts Society). We included 135 studies, half of these studies (n = 68) used a standard control and 28a placebo control. Thirty-seven trials were published in English [all randomized controlled trials (RCTs)] and the remaining articles were in Japanese only. The sample size for most studies was small (two-third of the studies included less than 100 patients) and the overall methodological quality appeared to be low. None of the studies used Kampo diagnosis as the basis for the treatment. In order to evaluate Kampo as a whole treatment system, certain aspects should be taken into account while designing studies. RCTs are the appropriate study design to test efficacy or effectiveness; however, within the trial the treatment could be individualized according to the Kampo diagnosis. Kampo is a complex and individualized treatment with a long tradition, and it would be appropriate for further research on Kampo medicine to take this into account.
|Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
|Published - 2011
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