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Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 2016 Sep;9(9):1225-33. doi: 10.1080/17512433.2016.1195263. Epub 2016 Jun 8.

Herbal medicines: challenges in the modern world. Part 3. China and Japan.

Teng L1, Zu Q2,3,4, Li G5, Yu T5, Job KM5, Yang X6, Di L2,3,4, Sherwin CM5,7, Enioutina EY5,8.

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a Department of Drug Policy & Management, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences , The University of Tokyo , Tokyo , Japan.
b School of Pharmacy , Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine , Nanjing , China.
c Jiangsu Engineering Research Center for Efficient Delivery System of Traditional Chinese Medicine , Nanjing , China.
d Nanjing Engineering Research Center for Industrialization Traditional Chinese Medicine Pellets , Nanjing , China.
e Division of Clinical Pharmacology, the Department of Pediatrics , University of Utah School of Medicine , Salt Lake City , UT , USA.
f Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy , University of Missouri-Kansas City , Kansas City , MI , USA.
g Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology , University of Utah , Salt Lake City , UT , USA.
h Division of Microbiology and Immunology, the Department of Pathology , University of Utah School of Medicine , Salt Lake City , UT , USA.



Medicinal plants, and formulations prepared from them, have been used in China and Japan for thousands of years. Nowadays, ancient formulations of Traditional Chinese and Kampo (Japanese) Medicines coexist with Western herbal medicines (HMs) and complement each other. HMs are used for the treatment of mild and chronic diseases, as an adjunct therapy, to improve wellbeing and delay aging, or as healthy (functional) foods.


This article, a third part in a series of reviews, is focusing on history, use and regulation of the traditional and modern HMs in Japan and China. Materials available from legislative and governmental websites, PubMed and news media were used. Expert commentary: HMs are heavily regulated in both countries, often in a similar manner as conventional pharmaceutical drugs. The majority of herbal formulations are sold as over-the-counter medications supplied with leaflets describing indications and appropriate dosages for patients of different ages. Medical practitioners prescribe herbal formulations that are tailored to the needs of particular patients. Both countries had problems with adverse drug reactions and toxicity of single herbs and herbal formulations that have been investigated by authorities, and some drugs have been removed from the market.


Kampo medicine; Yin and Yang balance; five elements; five flavors; four natures; herbal medicines; meridians; regulations; safety; traditional Chinese medicine

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