The Role of integrative medicine and Kampo treatment in an aging society: Experience with Kampo treatment during a natural disaster

Shin Takayama, Takehiro Numata, Koh Iwasaki, Hitoshi Kuroda, Yutaka Kagaya, Tadashi Ishii, Nobuo Yaegashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background and objectives: After the Great East Japan Earthquake, elderly individuals, who are particularly vulnerable during natural disasters, experienced difficulty while evacuating the area. This report discusses the Kampo treatments provided to elderly individuals in the disaster areas, and the role of integrative medicine and Kampo treatment. Methods: The changes in symptoms and Kampo treatment contents were summarized using the medical records of treatments provided in the evacuation centers until 10 weeks after the earthquake. Results: Infectious diseases, the common cold and hypothermia were frequently observed in most patients for first two weeks after the disaster. Allergies increased two weeks later, and mental distress was commonly observed six weeks later. We prescribed several Kampo formulas to treat the individual symptoms. Discussion: Many elderly individuals were treated using Western medications, but the symptoms persisted; however, after Kampo formulas were included in the treatment, the symptoms of many patients improved. Unlike Western medications, Kampo formulas warmed the bodies of elderly individuals who often had a reduced basal metabolism and low body temperatures due to exposure to the cold tsunami waters. Therefore, the Kampo formulas may have improved the immunity of those who were under psychological and physical stress because they had spent several days in the evacuation centers. Conclusion: Many studies have reported the effectiveness of Kampo formulas. Therefore, the combined usage of both Western and Kampo medicine may be used in a mutually complementary manner, and these combination treatments may play an important role in preserving the victims overall health after natural disasters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-131
Number of pages4
JournalJapanese Journal of Geriatrics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Aging society
  • Great East Japan Earthquake
  • Integrative medicine
  • Kampo
  • Natural disaster

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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