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How TCM Treat Cancer

Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective of Cancer
In Traditional Chinese medicine, there is no specific concept of cancer, but there is of tumors.


All illnesses, in the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine, are a result of energy imbalance, either an excess or a deficiency of the body's elemental energies

Nutritive tonics and herbal medicines were developed to alleviate pain and prolong life by strengthening the body's defenses against tumor progression


Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners believe that the causes of tumor development come in two folds. First, external factors include toxins and other environmental factors. Second, emotional stress, unhealthy diets, and damaged organs are internal factors. Internal factors also include stagnant blood, and a blockage or accumulation of qi (pronounced chee), the vital energy said to circulate along the meridians, or pathways, linking all parts of the body.

All illnesses, in the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine, are a result of energy imbalance, either an excess or a deficiency of the body's elemental energies. Qi, the life force, controls the bodily functions as it travels along the meridians, completing an energy cycle every twenty-four hours. The flow of qi may be disrupted by a variety of causes including an imbalanced diet or lifestyle, stress, suppressed emotions, or lack of exercise. These factors cause imbalances in yin and yang-complementary forces in dynamic flux and also disturb the normal flow of qi.
Cancer is the manifestation of an underlying imbalance, and a tumor is the "uppermost branch" of the illness, not the "root". Each patient may have a different imbalance causing what, on the outside, look like the same type of cancer. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners, in treating cancer, attempt to identify the individual patterns of qi imbalance, and prescribe treatments accordingly.

In treating cancer, Chinese Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners make diagnoses of yin and yang, qi, and blood imbalances. Blood, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, refers to much more than the material fluid. Instead, blood is the process of nourishing the organism; it occurs in a mutually regulating relationship with qi and moisture (body fluids). In formulating treatments, Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners are guided by 8 principles. In 4 sets of polar categories, those principles are: yin and yang, chill and heat, deficiency and excessiveness, and interior and exterior. The eight principles serve as the framework for the data gathered through physical examination, tongue and pulse diagnosis, and observation of symptoms. Once the Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner forms a cohesive picture of the pattern of disharmony, he or she can formulate a plan of treatment to restore balance.

The treating of cancer in Chinese Medicine can be have three components

a. Herbal medication and Diet
b. Acupuncture and Acupressure
c. Traditional Chinese Medicine Therapeutic exercise - Qigong and Taichi

I. Herbal Medication and Dietary

The conventional method of applying herb therapy is to make a decoction - a strong "tea" made by simmering raw herbs in water. Herbs are usually taken as a formula, which may contain 10-15 herbs. Each formula is consisted of a chief herb, a few assistant herbs, and a courier herb to take the medicine to the site of the "lesion". Each herb in the formula has a different role. In prescribing a medication, a practitioner adapts a basic formula with proven effectiveness in treating a particular pattern of disharmony, and adds other herbs to suit the patient's distinct characteristics. The Chinese herbal practitioner has a choice of close to 6,000 herbs, and a few mineral and animal components. There are about 400 commonly used formulas. Traditionally, a specially glazed clay teapot is used to make the tea. Since the decoction method is time consuming, and the taste of the decoction is unpalatable to many, two alternative methods were developed - pulverized herbs in capsules, and concentrated Chinese herbal granules.

Concentrated Chinese Herbal Granules
Concentrated Chinese herbal granules are a representation of a new generation of Chinese herbal products, and offer a safe and convenient means of using herbs. They are extracts of herbs and carry the same potency. Please refer to Single Chinese Herb Extracts - Manufacturing Techniques and Quality Control for details regarding the extraction process.

Common types of herbal therapies

Fu Zhen therapy
Fu Zhen therapy is an immune-enhancing herbal regimen, and is used as an adjunct to chemotherapy and radiation. The principal herbs in the therapy strengthen the body's nonspecific immunity and enhance the functions of T-cells.

Principal herbs: Astragalus, Ligustrum, Ginseng, Codonopsis, Atractylodes, and Ganoderma

Herbal Antitoxin therapy
Herbal Antitoxin therapy is a regularly used therapy with proven effects in inhibiting tumor growth. Kelp and Pokeroot are among the herbs known to dissolve tumors.

Principal herbs: Isatis Root, Heartleaf Houttuynia herb, Barbated Skullcup Herb, Chinese Lobelia Herb, Honeysuckle Flower, Spreading Heading Hedytis Herb, Glabrous Greenbrier Rhizome, Giant Knotweed Rhizome, Vietnamese Sophora Root.

Blood Activating therapies
Blood activating therapy helps reduce coagulation and inflammatory reactions associated with immune response

Principal herbs: Sanchi, Frankincense, Hisute Shiny Buglewood Herb, Daushen Root, Szechwan Lovage Rhizome, Red Peony Root, Safflower, Peach Seed, Common Burreed Tuber, Zedoray Phizome, Chinese Angelica. Cattail Pollen, Cowherb Seed.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, herbs and food go hand in hand in influencing the body's energy fields. It follows that a patient's diet must align with medications taken for benefits to be realized. Chinese dietary supervision is a sophisticated system that evaluates food according to its properties and therapeutic value. Whole-grain products, beans, fresh vegetables, and mushrooms are frequently recommended. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners, on the other hand, advise patients to avoid raw food, because it is too "cold"; white sugar, too rich and would over-stimulate the pancreas and liver; strong spices, for they disperse energy to the surface of the body. Cancer patients are also advised to shun coffee, because it overtaxes the adrenals; cold dairy products, because they are too congesting; and shellfish and citrus, because they are too "cold" and "moist".

II. Acupuncture and Acupressure
Acupuncture is another form of Chinese therapy applied to change the flow or quality of the life force, and to re-balance body energies. As mentioned, qi circulates in fourteen major meridians, or energy channels, traversing the body from the top of the head to the tips of fingers and toes. Each meridian is connected to an internal organ. Specific points on each invisible channel, when stimulated, affect the flow of qi in the particular organ and in other channels or associated organs. By stimulating these points with extremely fine needles or through massage, acupuncture unblocks energy or adjusts its flow. Also, by inserting and manipulating the hair-like stainless steel needles, acupuncture corrects the imbalances of qi that underlie the disease.

Acupuncture is applicable in the treatment of persistent pain, arthritis, asthma, infertility, and acute and chronic diseases. For cancer patients, it serves to alleviate pain and to address functional disorders associated with the illness. For example, acupuncture improves the ability to swallow for patients with esophageal cancer. Acupuncture also mitigates side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. As complement of herbal medications, acupuncture has been employed as a treatment for breast and cervical cancer in early stages. In addition, acupuncture also helps release stress and pain following surgeries.

III. Traditional Chinese Medicine therapeutic exercises
Another component of Traditional Chinese Medicine used in the treatment of cancer is therapeutic exercise. It comes in two forms: tai-chi and chi-gong. The purpose of both exercises is to enable a person to regulate and direct the flow of qi within his or her own body. A student is taught to focus his or her qi in a place two inches below the navel, called the dan tian, or vital center. From this center, the qi is said to emanate to distant regions of the body. Upon practice, students can sense the presence of qi at the vital center in the form of localized warmth and can then direct the life energy to specific parts of the body. For cancer patients, practitioners prescribe exercises that specifically address the patients' illnesses.

The perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine on tai-chi and chi-gong differs from that of Western Medicine in that Chinese Medicine believes that these exercises energize the body's vital forces, balances yin and yang, strengthens blood circulation, and improves the patient's emotional and mental states. Western medicine believes that the exercises, like yoga, increase the absorption and utilization of oxygen.

Through intensive practice of chi-gong, an entire set of beneficial psychological and spiritual conditions emerges. In promoting emotional well-being, chi-gong exercises help build confidence among patients in their battle against cancer. Many cancer patients, who have practicing chi-gong and tai-chi, have noted that a positive attitude plays an important role in the curing of the disease.

We heartily support you in the battle of fighting cancer. Please never surrender and remember that your friends, family, your family practitioners, your health care team and Sanjiu Chinese Medicine Clinic are standing behind you.

Sanjiu is proud to offer two programs to cancer patients. Please click the following two special programs which may help you

Cancer Supporting Treatment Program
Cancer Survivor Preventive Maintenance Program

Click here to learn more about Chinese Medicine to help other cancer diseases


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