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Kakkontou, a popular Chinese cold and flu medicine

Kakkontou (葛根湯) is often used to cure the common cold, influenza, neck pain, headaches, muscle pain, sinusitis etc. It is available both in liquid and dry form at your local drugstore. The bottles with kakkontou are rather convenient, especially when there is no drinking water around. Their flip side is, no doubt, the price. So my husband and I prefer packets with brown grainy powder. I always carry one or two in my purse just in case.KakkontouWhile kakkontou is an ancient Chinese herbal medicine, it is often prescribed by doctors in Japan. Personally I have never heard about it from my doctor, but some people did. In my country most doctors are very skeptical about herbs. They are presumably good for maintaining a good health, but nobody ever said herbal medicine can stop a cold that is about to start.


To be honest, kakkontou does not help me each time. It’s more like playing Russian roulette. So, in order to make it work without fail, I had found the medicine with the highest concentration of kakkontou extract. I presumed that it will be the most effective. And that is not all. Last time I just couldn’t get sick.

Instead of 2 or 3 bags per bag I had been drinking 4 or 5 for several days.KakkontouThen I’ve gotten a skin rash and I started to get angry at my husband. I was loosing control completely. Luckily, I noticed that things were getting worse after taking more kakkontou. The ingredients of kakkontou are: Glycyrrhiza or Licorice (カンゾウ), Cinnamon Bark (ケイヒ), Ephedra Herb (マオウ), Pueraria or Kudzu Root (カッコン), Peony Root (シャクヤク), Jujube (タイソウ) and Ginger (ショウキョウ). A critical mass of some herb (presumably Ephedra, that contains ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, or Pueraria, the source of bioavailable phytoestrogens) had accumulated in my body, and I wasn’t even able to visit my doctor for a few days. Steering clear of the medicine helped, but it was scary enough to learn my lesson.

The bottom line of my story is: always follow the instructions on the box and stick to the recommended dose. Even if it is “just a herbal medicine”. But you already knew that, right?

Article by Olga Kaneda

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