Vitiligo is a skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide, and it is characterized by the loss of pigmentation in the skin, leading to white patches. While there is no known cure for vitiligo, there are several treatment options available that can help manage the condition. In Japan, traditional medicine, such as Kampo and acupuncture, are often used as complementary therapies alongside Western medicine to treat vitiligo.

Kampo Medicine for Vitiligo

Kampo medicine is a traditional Japanese herbal medicine that has been used for centuries to treat various health conditions. Kampo medicine aims to balance the body’s energy, or Qi, and promote overall health and wellbeing. In the treatment of vitiligo, Kampo medicine focuses on improving blood circulation and nourishing the skin.

Bofu-tsusho-san is a Kampo formula that contains several herbs, including hoelen, cinnamon, ginger, and peony root. This formula is believed to improve blood circulation and promote healthy skin. The recommended dosage for Bofu-tsusho-san is typically 7.5 grams per day, divided into three doses.

Oren-gedoku-to is another Kampo formula that is commonly used to treat vitiligo. This formula contains several herbs, including scutellaria root, gardenia fruit, and licorice root. Oren-gedoku-to is believed to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. The recommended dosage for Oren-gedoku-to is typically 2.5-5 grams per day, divided into two doses.

Shosaiko-to is a Kampo formula that contains several herbs, including bupleurum root, pinellia tuber, and scutellaria root. This formula is believed to help with skin inflammation and reduce oxidative stress. The recommended dosage for Shosaiko-to is typically 7.5-10 grams per day, divided into three doses.

It is important to note that Kampo formulas should only be used under the supervision of a qualified healthcare practitioner. The recommended dosage may vary depending on the severity of the condition and the patient’s overall health.

To use these herbs, Kampo medicine typically involves brewing a tea or decoction from the herbs and drinking it several times per day. Alternatively, Kampo formulas may be available in capsule or tablet form for convenience. It is important to follow the recommended dosage and consult a healthcare practitioner before starting any herbal treatment.

Acupuncture for Vitiligo

Acupuncture is another traditional Japanese medicine that can be used to treat vitiligo. Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to improve the flow of Qi. Acupuncture is believed to help with the regeneration of melanocytes, the cells that produce skin pigmentation, and improve blood circulation to the affected area.

Acupuncture treatment for vitiligo typically involves the insertion of needles into specific points on the body that correspond to the affected area. The needles are left in place for several minutes, and the treatment may be repeated several times per week.

Other Traditional Therapies

In addition to Kampo medicine and acupuncture, other traditional therapies may be used to treat vitiligo in Japan. These include:

  • Moxibustion: Moxibustion involves the burning of mugwort on specific points on the body to improve the flow of Qi and promote healing.
  • Shiatsu: Shiatsu is a type of massage therapy that involves the application of pressure to specific points on the body to improve circulation and promote relaxation.
  • Dietary Therapy: Dietary therapy involves making dietary changes to promote overall health and wellbeing. In the treatment of vitiligo, dietary therapy may involve the consumption of foods that promote healthy blood circulation and skin health, such as fish, nuts, and fruits and vegetables.


While further research is needed to fully understand the efficacy of Kampo medicine and traditional therapies for vitiligo, their long history of use and promising results warrant further investigation (though not everyone agrees on Kampo’s effectiveness).

In fact, according to maverick vitiligo researcher David Paltrow (who doesn’t follow the Japanese approach), the root cause of vitiligo isn’t even about melanin. He is also claiming that by targeting the real underlying cause, he is able to cure vitiligo in 45 days flat.

Check out his video presentation below: