Useful drugs in Japanese pharmacies   ドラッグストアで買える基本的な常備薬

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Various medicines from a Japanese pharmacy

The ibuprofen-based medicine Ringl

Taisho Kampo, a plant-based natural medicine

Muhi Pacchi, patches for kids to soothe insect bites

Travelmin, medicine to help with travel sickness

Shelves in a Japanese drugstore

Stay Healthy

A headache spoiling your trip? No thanks! Here are some over-the-counter drugs that are very common in Japan, which may be useful to travelers.

In Japan, there are OTC drugs in pharmacies, drugstores and some konbini. You can easily spot these drugstores, often around stations or in shopping centres, because their facades are extremely bright and garish. These stores are generally open 7 days a week, and sometimes 24 hours a day, like Welcia or Matsumotokiyoshi, especially in large cities like Tokyo.

You'll also find products for the home, cosmetics, hygiene, baby goods, and even food. There are always pharmacists on hand to help you, but very often only in Japanese...

WARNING: these drugs are only intended to treat small everyday maladies, if you have a severe health problem, it is imperative you call the emergency services or see a doctor. The number to call in case of fire or if you need an ambulance in Japan is 119 (speak in Japanese if possible, otherwise you can speak slowly and clearly in English).

Do not take these drugs if you have any kind of drug allergy, and always check the ingredients on the label.

Pain relief drugs (recommended for those age 15 and over):

  • 鎮痛剤 (Chintzu zai): for headaches or toothache, menstrual pain and fever.
  • バファリン (Bufferin): aspirin tablets.
  • タイレノール (Tylenol): paracetamol tablets.
  • イブ (Eve): ibuprofen tablets. The "Eve A" version is suitable for colds and flu.
  • リングル (Ringl): ibuprofen capsules.

Stomachaches

  • 胃腸薬 (Icho yaku): recommended for stomach pain or bloating.
  • ガスター10 (Gasta 10): available in tablets and is especially suitable for stomach ailments.
  • 大正漢方 (Taisho Kampo): a natural medicine including herbal licorice, fennel and oyster shells.
  • 下痢止め (Geridome): taken for diarrhea.
  • ストッパ (Stoppa): an orodispersible (orally disintegrating) tablet for acute diarrhea.
  • ビオフェルミン (Biofemurin): an intestinal remedy with a lactic bacteria-based tablet. If experiencing gastroenteritis, consult a specialist.

Cold and flu medicine

  • パブロン (Paburon): a medicine that contains paracetamol and is an anti-inflammatory and for colds.
  • 葛根湯 (Kakkonto): a type of Japanese herbal medicine called kampo (漢方, derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine) notably containing the root of Pueraria montana, available in tablet, granule, or liquid form.

Insect bites

  • かゆみどめ (Kayumidome): a gel used to soothe insect bites. It is very popular with the Japanese. The medicine tube is fitted with a sponge to more easily apply the liquid.
  • ムヒアルファ (Muhi Alfa): contains diphenhydramine in cream or liquid form to be applied to the area of the bite.
  • For children you will find ムヒパッチ (Muhi Pacchi) for ages 1 and over in the form of sticker to put on the bite. Very practical and rather funny. Children love it, and the sticker stops them from scratching.


Travel sickness

  • よいどめ (Yoidome): medication against motion sickness.
  • アネロン (Aneron): a capsule effective for 24 hours.
  • トラベルミン (Travelmin): a tablet used to quell motion sickness.
  • トラベルミンジュニア (Travelmin Junior): for children 5 years and over, in tablet or candy form.

Minor Eye Issues

  • 目薬 (Megusuri): eye drops for eye problems such as styes or dry eyes due to contact lenses.

All these drugs should be taken according to the method and dosage indicated on the packaging.

In any circumstance, if the problem persists or worsens, see a doctor right away.

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