Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatment for Cancer


In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there is specific concept for tumor, but not for cancer. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners believe that the causes of tumor includes external factors include toxins and others from the environment and internal factors include emotional stress, unhealthy diets, and damaged organs. Also include stagnant blood, and a blockage or accumulation of Qi.

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". Each cancer patient may have a different imbalance causing the same type of cancer.

Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners try to identify the individual patterns of Qi imbalance and prescribe treatments accordingly when treating cancer patient. Traditional Chinese Medicine 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, and yin and yang. Once the Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner forms a cohesive picture of the pattern of disharmony, formulate a treatment plan to restore balance.

Improvement of Cancer Symptoms

Research indicates that Traditional Chinese Medicine (Chinese herbal 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.

Cancer patients mostly are given Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and conventional medical treatments. Some are given TCM therapy alone. TCM treatment resulted in improvement of cancer symptoms with many of those reporting reduced pain. It also shows reduced tumor size, increased survival rates, increased quality, lower relapse rates and reduced complications.

Chinese Herbs for Cancer Treatment

1) 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.

Where to buy (1): Doctor's Best, Artemisinin, 100 mg, Vegetable Capsules, 90-Count
Where to buy (2): Allergy Research Group, Super Artemisinin, 60 Veggie Caps

How to use: Artemisinin is available in many different forms including tea, extract, powder and capsules.

2) Astragalus: One of the most widely used herbs in TCM, astragalus root is a proven immune booster. According to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's research, 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. One study reported improved quality of life among NSCLC patients taking astragalus injection during chemotherapy with cisplatin and vinorelbine.

Where to buy (1): Now Foods, Astragalus, 70% Extract, 500 mg, Veg-capsules, 90-Count
Where to buy (2): Nature's Way, Astragalus Root, 470 mg, 180 Veggie Caps

How to use: Astragalus is available in many different forms including tea, extract, powder and capsules.

3) The Chinese skullcap, Scutellaria Baicalensis: Also known in Chinese medicine as Huang Qin, 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.

4) Nan Sha Shen: Also known as 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.

5) Gan Cao: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), gan cao, also known as licorice root, is a clinically proven expectorant that accelerates mucus secretion. It helps relieve coughs and shortness of breath. This is of particular benefit to lung cancer patients.

6) Poria: Also known as Fu Ling, 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.

7) Oldenlandia diffusa: Also known as Hedyotis diffusa or snake-needle grass in the U.S., 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.

8) 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.

Chinese Herbal Therapy for Cancer

1) 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.

2) Yangzheng Xiaoji is a traditional Chinese formula consisting of 14 herbs, is beneficial to cancer patients with certain solid tumors when used in combination with chemotherapy. It suggests that combining the formula with conventional as well as new therapies could hold the key to developing new treatments for cancer patients.

3) 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.

4) Blood activating therapy helps reduce coagulation and inflammatory reactions associated with immune response.

Acupuncture Treatment for Cancer

Acupuncture can be offered to manage the side effects of conventional cancer treatment (chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery), and address the underlying patterns of cancer. Acupuncture treatment usually involves working with both aspects. During conventional treatment, one often has to focus on dealing with its side effects. When treatment is finished, one can begin to focus more on treating the underlying patterns which led to the cancer developing, in order to help the patient back to full health, and to decrease the chance of recurrence.

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 Traditional Chinese Medicine and highlights the characteristics and advantages of Traditional Chinese Medicine. TCM practitioners can use the guidelines as international standards.

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Central Academy of Fine Arts
The University of Nottingham Ningbo China