Japanese herbal medicines benefit patients with gastrointestinal disorders


Many of the drugs used to treat GI motility disorders such as functional dyspepsia, constipation, and post-operative ileus are in-
effective or cause unwanted side effects and, in some cases, this has led to drugs being withdrawn from the market. Herbal medicine is an attractive alternative.

In a study published in Neurogastroenterology and Motility, researchers reviewed data on Japanese herbal medicines and found them to be effective in reducing the symptoms of such disorders.
The medicines reviewed included rikkunshi-to, which is prepared from eight crude herbs, and was effective in reducing discomfort caused by functional dyspepsia; dai-kenchu-to, a mixture of ginseng, ginger, and zanthoxylum fruit, which was beneficial for constipation in children and patients suffering from post-operative ileus (disruption of normal bowel movements following an operation) and hangeshashin-to, which reduced the severity and frequency of diarrhoea caused by anti-cancer drugs.

In Japan, herbal medicine is manufactured in standardised form with regards to quality and quantity of ingredients. However, the researchers say the health benefits of standardised formulations of herbal medicines require more rigorous examination, particularly in the Western world.

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First Published in June 2009

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