Research shows Kampo medicine can improve kidney health
09/17/2019 // Melissa Smith // Views

While many modern forms of medicine, such as the Western medicine, have become the norm in healthcare, traditional approaches or alternative medicines are still as effective in treating diseases as they have been for many years. In Japan, they have Kampo medicine that is rooted in ancient Chinese medicine.

Yokuininto, a commercially available Kampo medicine used for osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, can also be used to protect against kidney damage and gouty arthritis caused by high uric acid levels, according to a study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Having an abnormally high level of uric acid or hyperuricemia for a long period can lead to kidney disease or gout. Gout causes severe and painful swelling of the joints, typically in the feet and big toes, as uric acid forms crystals in these areas.

The anti-hyperuricemic effects of Kampo medicine

For the study, researchers at the Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine in South Korea looked at the effects of Kampo medicine on kidney injury and gouty arthritis caused by high uric acid levels. They analyzed whether yokuininto can exhibit anti-hyperuricemic and anti-inflammatory effects on hyperuricemic mice.

Results showed that yokuininto significantly reduced serum uric acid levels by 44 percent. The Kampo medicine worked by blocking pro-inflammatory cytokine activities and inducing uricosuric function with anti-renal injury functions. This means that yokuininto increased uric acid excretion and decreased its production.


These results suggest that yokuininto may inhibit inflammation and protect against kidney dysfunction in hyperuricemia. With these findings, the researchers concluded that yokuininto may be used as a preventive treatment for kidney injury and gouty arthritis caused by high levels of uric acid.

Another study supported the findings relating to the anti-hyperuricemic effects of yokuininto. In this study, which was published in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine, researchers looked at the ability of several Kampo herbal medicines, including yokuininto, to lower uric acid levels. They found that the Kampo medicines suppressed the activity of xanthine oxidase – an enzyme that breaks down xanthine compound into uric acid – and regulated uric acid transport proteins. They also reduced inflammation by suppressing biomarkers of acute kidney injury.

More on Kampo medicine

At first, Kampo medicine closely followed Chinese medicine. However, it was later modified to adapt to conditions in Japan. Nonetheless, Kampo medicine has unique characteristics. For one, it is individualized at the herbal level. It also has a simpler prescription pattern than traditional Chinese medicine. Lastly, abnormal findings are considered in making a diagnosis.

Kampo medicine is incorporated into Japanese medical education, unlike other traditional medicines. The Japanese government also regulates its medicines for quality and safety, making it safe and effective for use.

Other ways to lower uric acid levels

In addition to Kampo medicine, you can regulate uric acid levels with several dietary and lifestyle changes.

Reduce your intake of purine-rich foods. Purine is broken down by the body into uric acid. Consuming lots of purine-rich foods like bacon, dairy products, and red meat, sugary foods and drinks, and beer may result in gout as the body produces high amounts of uric acid.

That said, some purine-rich foods are still healthful, such as seafood like tuna, sardines, mussels, herring, haddock, and trout, and organ meats like liver. In this case, you only need to reduce your intake rather than avoid them altogether.

Maintain a healthy body weight. Having a healthy body weight may help reduce the risk of gout flares. However, if you are overweight or obese, avoid losing weight too fast as it may increase uric acid levels. Instead, focus on making long-term sustainable changes to manage your weight. Exercise, follow a healthy diet with lots of nutrient-dense foods to support your weight loss goals.

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