Chinese Medicine Treatment for Cancer
In TCM theory, there is specific concept for tumor, but not for cancer. TCM practitioners believe that tumor can be caused by internal and external factors. Internal factors include qi stagnation and blockage of qi in internal organs in the body. External factors include toxins from the environment. From the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine, cancer is the manifestation of an underlying imbalance, and a tumor is the uppermost branch of the illness, but not the root. Same type of cancer can be caused by different imbalances.
TCM practitioners attempt to identify the individual patterns of qi imbalance and prescribe treatments accordingly. TCM practitioners are guided by 8 principles to analyze symptoms and put particular conditions into groups: cold and heat, inside and outside, too much and not enough, yin and yang. Once TCM practitioners identify the pattern of disharmony, treatment plan to restore balance can be formulated.
Improvement of Cancer Symptoms
Research indicates that Traditional Chinese Medicine offers significant treatment for most types of cancers including lung cancer, liver cancer, stomach cancer, breast cancer, esophageal cancer, colorectal cancer and nasopharyngeal (throat and sinus) cancer. In most cases, Traditional Chinese Medicine and conventional medical treatments are both given. Some are given TCM therapy alone. TCM treatment can help to reduce pain, strengthen immune system, improve quality of life, reduce tumor size, lower relapse rates and reduce complications.
Chinese Herbs for Cancer
1) Qing Hao Su (Artemisinin): According to studies published in Life Sciences, Cancer Letters and Anticancer Drugs, artemesinin, a derivative of the wormwood plant commonly used in Chinese medicine, can kill off cancer cells, and do it at a rate of 12,000 cancer cells for every healthy cell. By itself, artemisinin is about 100 times more selective in killing cancer cells as opposed to normal cells. The new artemisinin compound is 34,000 times more potent in killing the cancer cells as opposed to their normal cousins. So the tagging process appears to have greatly increased the potency of artemisinin’s cancer-killing properties (1).
2) Huang Qi (Astragalus Root): One of the most widely used herbs in TCM, astragalus root is a proven immune booster. A study published in Cancer Letters suggests that astragalus inhibits tumor growth, thwarts tumor spreading, reduces the immune-suppressing effects of chemotherapy, and may enhance the effects of platinum-based chemotherapy drugs like cisplatin and carboplatin (2).
3) Huang Qin (Chinese Skullcap): It is traditionally used as a treatment for fever, liver and lung complaints. Professor Cathie Martin of the John Innes Centre in Norwich found compounds called flavones, found in the Huang Qin roots, not only have beneficial anti-viral and anti-oxidant effects, but also killed human cancers while leaving healthy cells untouched. In animal experiments the flavones halted tumor growth (3).
4) Tian Men Dong (Asparagus Root): Though the studies conducted on asparagus root to examine its biological effects have only been conducted on mice, evidence shows anticancer activity against leukemia and lung cancer. One study found that asparagus root inhibited the production of tumor necrosis factor alpha (4).
5) Nan Sha Shen (American Silvertop Root): It acts as an antibiotic and is prescribed for a dry cough with little phlegm. One study injected the herb into the peritoneum and reported a reduction in inflammation, vascular permeability and cancer-promoting compounds.
6) Gan Cao (Licorice Root): Gan Cao is a natural and proven expectorant that accelerates mucus secretion. It helps relieve coughs and shortness of breath. This is of particular benefit to people with lung cancer.
7) Fu Ling (Poria): There are numerous studies that support Fu Ling as an anti-cancer agent with potential for use against many types of cancer including lung, pancreatic, prostate, skin, and breast cancer.
8) Bai Hua She She Ca (Snake-Needle Grass): It is also known as Hedyotis Diffusa, this herb has demonstrated anticancer and chemopreventative effects in laboratory and animal studies. The herb causes cancer cells to die (apoptosis) and it stimulates the immune system to hunt out and destroy tumor cells. One study also reported anti-inflammatory effects through the reduced production of tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-6 and prostaglandin-2, all of which are commonly overexpressed in mesothelioma cancer.
Chinese Herbal Therapy for Cancer
Fu Zhen therapy is an immune enhancing herbal regimen of Chinese herbs often used as an adjunct cancer therapy. In Fu Zhen therapy, the objective is to support and stimulate deep energy systems within the body to make it stronger and more resistant to degeneration.
Yangzheng Xiaoji is beneficial to people with certain solid tumors when used in combination with chemotherapy. It is a traditional Chinese formula consisting of 14 herbs. It suggests that combining the formula with conventional as well as new therapies could hold the key to developing new cancer treatments.
Herbal Antitoxin therapy is a regularly used type of therapy with proven effects in inhibiting tumor growth. Kelp and Pokeroot are amongst the herbs known to dissolve tumors.
Blood activating therapy helps reduce coagulation and inflammatory reactions associated with immune response.
Acupuncture Treatment for Cancer
According to the World Health Organization, acupuncture has shown therapeutic effect on cancer pain, but for which further proof is needed (5). Acupuncture can be offered to manage the side effects of conventional cancer treatment (chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery) such as coughing, depression, diarrhea, fatigue, headache, nausea, pain, vomiting and weight loss. Acupuncture treatment can relieve symptoms or keep them from getting worse.
Guidelines of Diagnosis and Therapy in Oncology with Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine has a long history to treat cancer. Nowadays, there are guidelines of diagnosis and treatment for different types of cancer in Traditional Chinese Medicine. With the development and use of Chinese medicine in clinical practice, standardization of diagnosis and treatment has become necessary to improve the level of medical care. In 2006, World Health Organization western pacific region experts reached consensus on clinical practice guidelines for lung cancer treatment with Chinese medicine. On this basis, the Cooperative Organization of Practice Guidelines on Traditional Chinese Medicine and Cancer was established, which summarizes and evaluates evidence-based research results. It is the first national recognition of the Traditional Chinese Medicine syndrome differentiation standard, treatment principles, and drug recommendations. In 2014, the Guidelines of Diagnosis and Therapy in Oncology with Traditional Chinese Medicine was published. It promotes and highlights the characteristics and advantages of TCM. TCM practitioners can use the guidelines as international standards. There are hospitals in China that offer integrated Chinese and Western medicine cancer treatment. (List of best cancer hospitals in China)