“Japanese herbal medicines have been used in East Asia for thousands of years,” said lead researcher Hidekazu Suzuki, an associate professor at the Keio University School of Medicine. “Our review of the world medical literature reveals that herbal medicines serve a valuable role in the management of patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders.”
The research is significant because many pharmaceutical medicines used to treat so-called gastrointestinal “motility disorders” have been found to be ineffective or fraught with side effects, with some even having been withdrawn from the market.
The scientists reviewed data from studies that examined not only Dai-Kenchu-to but a number of other Japanese herbal treatments, including Rikkunshi-to and hangeshashin-to. Rikkunshi-to, a preparation of eight herbs, reduced discomfort from indigestion. Hangeshashin-to was effective in alleviating the severity and frequency of diarrhea caused by anti-cancer drugs.
Herbal medicines are utilized much more widely in Japan than in the West. In Japan, companies manufacture these formulations according to standardized measures of the ingredients’ quality and quantity. Suzuki and his colleagues said the health benefits of standardized concoctions of herbal medicines need to be more rigorously examined, so that particularly the Western world can appreciate and reap any potential benefits.
“There is a mandate to provide accurate data regarding the effectiveness of non-traditional therapy, not only to our patients but also to health-care providers who face the dilemma of recommending or opposing management strategies that incorporate herbal medicine,” said Suzuki.