All About Japan

How Japan Deals with Digestive Problems

Health Information Medicine Cosmetics & Medicine Life in Japan FAQ

The Japanese diet is considered rather healthy the world over, but even the best diet doesn’t make you immune to Mother Nature's calls, or leaves you waiting by the phone. Understanding medicine in Japan can be tough, especially for an issue as sensitive as digestion, so we’re here to help wade through the muddy waters to get much-needed relief.

When You’ve Lived a Little Too Hard

At the end of a weekend filled with any combination of great drinks, good friends, and whatever’s left at your local conbini (convenience store) on your late night walk home, your stomach might be in need of a helping hand. For everyday use (read: when your digestive system is rebelling against you, not when you’re seriously ill), reach for Lopera Mac Satto. It’s easily recognizable by its iconography: a featureless orange humanoid with an angry red belly, promising relief. The active ingredient is loperamide hydrochloride (the same active ingredient in the Western household favorite Immodium), and although it’s a bit steep at ¥950 for six tablets, just remember that you did this to yourself.

When You’re Actually Sick (With Something Else)

Selbelle is a medicine I’m all too familiar with. Before you get any untoward ideas, it’s not because my life is awash with gastro-intestinal distress, but because I’ve had far too many sinus-related illnesses to count while living here. You see, Selbelle is often given by doctors in conjunction with medicines for more serious illnesses. This is because pain relievers or antibiotics can put a lot of stress on your digestive system, and sometimes come with less-than-pleasant side effects. Its active ingredient is Teprenone (which can be used to treat even serious gastric illnesses, like ulcers), and when combined with herbal supplements like magnolia bark, it provides gentle relief for your stomach, even against daily ailments like heartburn.

When Mother Nature Refuses to Call

Byurakku is a high-strength constipation medicine that offers a lot of bang for your buck (pun... sort-of intended?), as packs come in increments of fifty. The active ingredient is sodium picosulfate, which is a stimulant laxative that medical professionals sometimes use to prepare a patient’s large bowels before surgery, so you know it means business. Taking it with dairy can reduce its efficacy, so skip the warm glass of milk before bedtime if you’re hoping to wake up and relieve yourself.

For General Digestive Wellness

For the vitamin crowd, and those looking to achieve a little more digestive harmony, Ebios is the medicine for you. It contains a variety of vitamins that help strengthen the immune system, as well as brewer’s yeast, the beloved fungus used in the making of beer and bread. It’s also a probiotic, which means it contains micro-organisms that help maintain proper digestive function. Unlike some of the other medicines on the list, it’s friendly for kids aged five and older, so it’s fun for the whole family!