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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 535146, 5 pages
Review Article

Pattern Classification in Kampo Medicine

1Committee for Terminology and Classification, Japan Society for Oriental Medicine, 1-9-18 Kaigan, Minato-ku, Tokya 105-0022, Japan
2Center for Kampo Medicine, Keio University School of Medicine, 35 Shinanomachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-8582, Japan

Received 26 June 2013; Accepted 17 December 2013; Published 20 February 2014

Academic Editor: Takeshi Sakiyama

Copyright © 2014 S. Yakubo 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.


Pattern classification is very unique in traditional medicine. Kampo medical patterns have transformed over time during Japan’s history. In the 17th to 18th centuries, Japanese doctors advocated elimination of the Ming medical theory and followed the basic concepts put forth by Shang Han Lun and Jin Gui Yao Lue in the later Han dynasty (25–220 AD). The physician Todo Yoshimasu (1702–1773) emphasized that an appropriate treatment could be administered if a set of patterns could be identified. This principle is still referred to as “matching of pattern and formula” and is the basic concept underlying Kampo medicine today. In 1868, the Meiji restoration occurred, and the new government changed its policies to follow that of the European countries, adopting only Western medicine. Physicians trained in Western medicine played an important role in the revival of Kampo medicine, modernizing Kampo patterns to avoid confusion with Western biomedical terminology. In order to understand the Japanese version of traditional disorders and patterns, background information on the history of Kampo and its role in the current health care system in Japan is important. In this paper we overviewed the formation of Kampo patterns.