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Japan – Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Overview of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Japan

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) has a long history in Japan, with many traditional practices and therapies being integrated into modern healthcare. CAM in Japan includes a range of practices and therapies, such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, and shiatsu massage, among others.

Acupuncture in Japan

Acupuncture is a form of CAM that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate the flow of energy and promote healing. Acupuncture is widely practiced in Japan and is often used as a complementary therapy alongside conventional medical treatments.

One organization that supports acupuncture in Japan is the Japan Acupuncture and Moxibustion Association. The Japan Acupuncture and Moxibustion Association is a professional organization that was founded in 1949 and works to promote and regulate the practice of acupuncture and moxibustion in Japan. They provide training and support to acupuncturists, establish standards for the practice of acupuncture, and advocate for the recognition of acupuncture as a legitimate form of healthcare.

Herbal Medicine in Japan

Herbal medicine is a form of CAM that involves the use of plants or plant extracts to treat various illnesses and conditions. In Japan, herbal medicine has a strong presence, with many traditional herbal remedies being widely used and recognized.

One organization that supports herbal medicine in Japan is the Japanese Society of Pharmacognosy. The Japanese Society of Pharmacognosy is a professional organization that was founded in 1951 and works to promote and advance the study of pharmacognosy, which includes the study of medicinal plants and their uses. They provide resources and support to individuals interested in the study of herbal medicine, as well as promoting the safe and effective use of herbal remedies.

Shiatsu Massage in Japan

Shiatsu massage is a form of CAM that involves applying pressure to specific points on the body to promote relaxation and alleviate pain and tension. Shiatsu massage has its roots in traditional Japanese medicine and is widely practiced in Japan.


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One organization that supports shiatsu massage in Japan is the Japan Shiatsu Association. The Japan Shiatsu Association is a professional organization that was founded in 1947 and works to promote and regulate the practice of shiatsu massage in Japan. They provide training and support to shiatsu practitioners, establish standards for the practice of shiatsu, and advocate for the recognition of shiatsu as a legitimate form of healthcare.

Regulation of CAM in Japan

In Japan, CAM is regulated by the government under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. This means that CAM practitioners are required to be licensed and meet certain standards and qualifications in order to practice.

The Japanese government recognizes several forms of CAM, including acupuncture, shiatsu massage, and traditional herbal medicine. CAM practitioners must undergo specific training and education in their respective fields and pass licensing exams in order to practice.

Challenges Facing CAM in Japan

One of the main challenges facing the practice of CAM in Japan is the lack of scientific evidence to support the efficacy of some CAM practices. While many traditional CAM therapies have been used for centuries, there is a need for more rigorous scientific studies to establish their safety and effectiveness.

Another challenge is the increasing popularity of unlicensed CAM practitioners who offer therapies without proper training or qualifications. This can be dangerous for patients, as they may receive ineffective or harmful treatments.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) has a long history in Japan, with many traditional practices and therapies being integrated into modern healthcare. While there are challenges facing the practice of CAM in Japan, organizations such as the Japan Acupuncture and Moxibustion Association, the Japanese Society of Pharmacognosy, and the Japan Shiatsu Association are working to promote and regulate the practice of CAM in the country.

It is important for patients to work closely with their healthcare providers to determine the best course of treatment for their individual needs, whether that involves conventional medicine, CAM, or a combination of both. Patients should also ensure that any CAM practitioner they work with is properly trained and licensed in their respective field. By taking these steps, patients can access safe and effective healthcare options that support their overall well-being.


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