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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 429103, 9 pages
Research Article

Traditional Medicine in China, Korea, and Japan: A Brief Introduction and Comparison

1School of Korean Medicine, Pusan National University, Yangsan 626-870, Republic of Korea
2Centre for Evidence-Based Chinese Medicine, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing 100-029, China
3Graduate School of Health Sciences, Morinomiya University of Medical Sciences, Osaka 559-0034, Japan

Received 18 May 2012; Accepted 15 June 2012

Academic Editor: Myeong Soo Lee

Copyright © 2012 Hye-Lim Park et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background and Purpose. Traditional medicine (TM) has been widely used in China (including the Taiwan region), Korea, and Japan. The purposes of this paper are to summarize the basic data on TM systems in these three countries and to compare them in terms of overall policy, education, and insurance. Methods. Government websites, national statistics, and authoritative papers from each country were fully searched. Further data were gathered by TM experts from each country. Results. China and Korea showed similar patterns in TM systems, whereas Japan showed different patterns. In China and Korea, TM was practiced in a dual system with conventional medicine (CM), and TM education was 6-year training programs on average for TM doctors, and acupuncture, moxibustion, and cupping were completely insured. Whereas, CM was dominant in Japan, and TM was practiced by each health care worker who has received different TM education respectively, and main TM therapies were partially insured. Conclusions. TM was developed similarly or somewhat differently based on differences in cultural background and national policies in East Asia. We cautiously propose that this study could contribute to the development of TM and also be used for reference in complementary and alternative medicine systems.