Kampo is the Japanese practice of herbal medicine.
Although Kampo herbs do have Chinese origin, the herbal formuals were modified to fit the Japanese culture shortly after being brought from China to Japan in the 6th Century. Kampo is based on the classical text Shang Han Lun, a text which details how disease can move through the body in different stages.
How does it work?
When diagnosing a patient with the correct Kampo formula, we take into consideration their overall constitution as well as their Bio Sho, or their “illness”. This is determined through a thorough conversation involving detailed questions, a reading of the pulse, an observation of the tongue and an abdominal palpation. The practitioner then determines what formula would best match the patient’s Sho or their presentation. This “Sho” includes the patient’s complaints as well as their constitution. Once the formula has been prescribed, it is usually taken in tea form a few times a day. We will discuss your exact prescription and instructions once your formula has been determined.
How are Japanese herbs different from Chinese herbs?
They are fairly similar but there are a few notable differences within the diagnosis stage. In both the Japanese practice of Kampo and the Chinese practice of herbs, a diagnosis is made via the interview, the pulse and through observation of the tongue. Only in Kampo, however, is significant consideration given to abdominal exam when determining which formula is best.
Another difference is where the formula we use originates from. In the Kampo method we rely on a classic set of formulas; in the Chinese style, practitioners have the liberty of creating new herbal formulas from various individual herbs.
A Kampo practitioner may add one specific herb to a formula, but our rule of thumb is that if we have to edit the formula with more than two herbs, we need to reassess because we believe a better diagnosis exists. Another notable difference is that Kampo uses hardly any animal parts.