Herbs for Cancer Patients

Herbs for Cancer Patients

Herbs for Cancer Patients

TCM for toxic masses

Drawings of tumors have been found on turtle shells and “oracle bones” dating from the eleventh century B.C.  Medical texts dating from 200 B.C. have detailed descriptions of tumors and their causes. Therefore cancer is well known and well documented in Chinese medical literature. Yet there is no word for cancer in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). 

This is because Chinese medicine has always regarded cancer as resulting from several different disease patterns rather than as a single disease itself. A combination of accumulation and toxicity.  Ironically, modern physicians are beginning to recognize similar distinctions. Perhaps in our search for “The Cure”, we can find a measure of help in the vast experience of Chinese medicine in treating of unwanted masses (malignant or benign)

The traditional Chinese treatment of patients with symptoms similar to cancer diagnosis is based on the principle of Fu Zheng Gu Ben. “Fu Zheng” means strengthening what is correct. “Gu Ben” means regeneration and repair.

We also believe that every disease, including cancer, must have at least two causes. One cause may place stress upon the cells, another may cause a weakness in the body’s defense. Other causes, such as susceptibility, can also play a part.

Treating cancer symptoms and the side effects of western cancer treatments with Chinese herbs requires diagnosing the probable imbalances that are causing the unwanted masses or symptom in the first place, then choosing the correct course of treatment. Diagnosis is made according to the four examinations of TCM. The aim of treatment is to harmonize the patient as well as it is to combat the underlying causes producing abnormal cell growth.

Chinese Herbal medicine used for masses and Cancer Related Symptoms

What’s in a Formula:

1- Herbs to Reduce Stagnations
The accumulation or mass (tumor) is attacked with strong blood breaking and herbs that reduce masses. Herbs will differ according to the location of the masses. Because many patients receive chemotherapy, and because toxicity may be a disease factor, herbs that clear toxicity from the body are often added.

2 – Herbs to Strengthen and Balance the Body
To reduce excess and supplement deficiencies herbs are also given. Most important is the body’s immune energy (wei qi) which must be heightened to help subdue the pathogenic processes occurring during cancer. One or more herbs are usually included to strengthen digestion and the absorption of the medicine.

3 – Herbs to Eliminate the Root Causes
In order to prevent recurrence, practitioners seek to understand what is the imbalance, or the cause of disease and aim to restore that balance with herbal medicine.

Herbal combinations that strengthen and clear heat and excess in different areas of the body:

  • Breast: oldenlandia (60 g), taraxacum (60 g), scutellaria (60 g), aurantium (60 g), curcuma (60 g)
  • Stomach: combine oldenlandia (90 g) and imperata (60 g) or use scutellaria (30) and imperata (30)
  • Esophageal oldenlandia (60 g), scutellaria (60 g), imperata (60 g), cotton root (60 g)
  • Colon oldenlandia (60 g), scutellaria (15 g), solanum (60 g), sanguisorba (30 g), viola (15 g)
  • Ovarian: oldenlandia (30 g), scutellaria (50 g), solanum (50 g S. nigri; 30 g S. lyrati), turtle shell (30 g)
  • Lung: scutellaria (120 g), taraxacum (30 g), ophiopogonis (30 g), oldenlandia (60 g)
  • Liver: oldenlandia (60 g), scutellaria (60 g), phragmites (30 g), peonae alba (60 g)
  • Herbs for cancer symptoms must be assessed individually, and require consultation with an experienced Chinese herbologist

Some Research on TCM related to Cancer: 

Acupuncture for Malignant Pain Problems. J. Filshie, D. Redman (Dept. of Anesthetics, Royal Marsden Hospital, London, England). International Medical Acupuncture Conference, London, England, May 4-8, 1986.
The effect of acupuncture was assessed in 183 patients attending the Pain Clinic in a cancer hospital. Early results were promising with 82% of patients obtaining benefit for hours or days. However, only 52% of patients obtained significant help and multiple treatments were often necessary. Acupuncture was most helpful for vascular problems, muscle spasm and dyaesthetic problems. Acupuncture was significantly helpful for a number of patients with malignant pain problems.

Electroacupuncture Treatment Method for Arm Oedema, Following Surgery for Breast Cancer. C. Moldovan, et al. (Institute of Oncology, Bucharest, Romania). International Medical Acupuncture Conference, London, England, May 4-8, 1986
Upper limb oedema (bloating from retention of water) occurs following surgery for breast cancer in approximately 8-30% of the cases. Existing means have relatively limited efficiency. This study presents a treatment method with electroacupuncture (acupuncture in which weak electrical currents are sent through the needles) on a group of 21 patients with upper limb oedema. Treatment response was based on objective criteria including clinical and thermoelectric measurements.

Complete recovery from oedemas was obtained in 33% of the cases, while partial recovery was seen in 43% of the cases. No response was seen in 24%.
Immunity Reflex State in Cancer patients Treated by Acupuncture Xia Yuqin, et al. Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion, Vol. 6, No. 2, April 1986, pp. 17-19. (In Chinese)

Fifty-nine cases with cancer (diagnosed through tissue biopsy) were observed in this group. It was found that the potentiality of cell immunity was lower than in normal persons. Radiation treatment had certain inhibitory functions on body immunity.

It was seen at the same time that acupuncture not only raised body immunity and regulated ERFC close to the normal level, but it could also control the falling of body immunity caused by radiation treatments. Curative Effects Seen in 44 Cases of Radioactive Rectitis

After Treating Cervical Cancer , Zhang Zhaohua. Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion, Vol. 6, No. 3, June 1986, pp. 18-19. (In Chinese)
Forty-four cases of rectitis (inflammation, pain and bleeding of the rectum) caused by radiation therapy for cancer were treated by acupuncture. Results: 72.3% cases were cured, 9% cases were markedly effective, and 18% cases were improved. Through this patient group it was also observed that acupuncture produces the effects of analgesia and antipyresis, and the reduction of inflammation.

Cancer Chemotherapy with Oriental Medicine (II) Clinical Experiments of Oriental Medicine with Anti-tumor Crude Drugs. A. Sato International Journal of Oriental Medicine 1991;1:34-43

Chinese herbs served to improve symptoms of chemotherapy and prolong life. Characteristics include reduction of side effects caused by chemotherapeutic drugs and radiation therapy (i.e., increases in leukocytes, erythrocytes and thrombocytes), improvement of digestive functions (i.e. improvement of hepatic function) improvement of renal function, reduction of pain, enhancement of immune functions, and especially, decreased pain in the terminal stage.

Treatment of Postoperative Advanced Gastric Cancer With Chemotherapy and Anticancer Herbs. Guan-ting Wang, Jia-yu Xu, Ai-mei Zhang, and Xian-yi Wu. International Journal of Oriental Medicine. 1992;4:202-205
Treatment of advanced gastric cancer with combined chemotherapy and anticancer herbs which “support the righteous Qi” (righteous Qi is often translated to Immune System in Western medicine) resulted in a 41.2% survival rate at 3 years and 30.4% at 5 years. The curative effect was significantly higher than for those patients receiving only chemotherapy (26.1% and 15.0%, respectively).

Herbs for Breast lumps and masses.

Breast cancer is by fare the most common cancer in women. Though there is no word for breast cancer, there are conditions with traditional names that would be diagnosed as breast cancer by physicians today.

Commonly, there are at least three causes that underlie most breast masses. Stagnation, damp accumulation, and toxicity. In the West, we are familiar with the toxic causes of cancer. Thousands of substances have been documented to “cause” cancer. What is missing from our modern-day understanding are several traditional Chinese concepts.

First is the concept of flow and how it relates to health.
Good health depends on normal flows of fluid and energy (blood and qi). These flows are responsible for nourishment and discharge. Flows are effected by physical, mental, and environmental influences. Poor flow (stagnation) can lead to accumulations (tumors, cysts, etc.). Cancer can occur when poor flow causes prolonged exposure to toxicity. These toxic carcinogens can come from outside or inside the body. Our bodies are chemical factories, capable of generating toxic waste. When elimination of this waste is impeded by stagnation, stress is placed upon the cells. Cancer is one possible outcome. Normalizing these flows and strengthening “what is correct”, tends to promote recovery and health.

The second missing concept is immunity. In the West, we are beginning to recognize our immune system and what its role might be in the cause and cure of many diseases, including cancer. TCM has recognized the immune concept for several thousand years. In that time, many ways have been devised to enhance
the protective qi.

Chinese Herbal Medicines Used for Cancer Symptoms

Single herbs are rarely used in Chinese medicine. Herbs are always synergistically combined into formulas for two reasons; greater efficacy and elimination of side effects. These formulae will vary from person to person and according to changing conditions in each person. Formulas usually contain herbs for several different purposes. Herbs to move qi, mass reducing herbs, immune building herbs, and herbs to neutralize toxins, are combined with herbs that correct underlying imbalances. Professional help by Chinese herbalists experienced in treating patients with cancer diagnosis is highly recommended.

  • For those with no source of help, the following herbal products may be researched.
  • Marrow Plus
  • Bupleurum Entangled Qi
  • Paris 7
  • Chih Ko and Curcuma
  • Kang Zhong Pian


Herbs Used To Treat The Side Effects Of Chemotherapy & Radiation

The side effects of chemotherapy and radiation are not the same for everyone. Different chemicals, different people, different diseases mean that each case must be assessed separately. We offer the following information for those with no recourse to professional help.

Nausea – Fatigue – Golden Book Pills
Dryness – Mai Wei di Huang Wan
Skin/Radiation Burns – Jing Wan Hung Ointment
Low Libido – Man’s Treasure (for men and women)
Heat in the evening
 (tidal fever, scratchy throat) – Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan



By Eugene Mak, MD
- Board Certified Oncologist and MARF Board Member

A frequently asked question by patients undergoing cancer treatment is, "Can acupuncture help me?"

The issue then becomes: is there a place for acupuncture in the vast field of cancer with its diverse treatment modalities?

The role of acupuncture ... is in its adjunctive use in anesthesia, in post-operative pain control, and in aiding and hastening recovery from the side effects of the various therapies. Acupuncture is effective for control of pain, of local swelling post-operatively, for shortening the resolution of hematoma and tissue swelling and for minimizing use of medications and their attendant side effects. Energetic acupuncture, an approach consisting of the use of needles with electricity and moxibustion (a form of local heating with herbs imparts a sense of well being and accelerates patients' recovery. In conjunction with nutritional support, its use is routinely employed in some cancer institutions.

The dreaded nausea and vomiting which commonly occurs in some patients undergoing chemotherapy and inevitably, with the use of certain classes of agents, can often be worse than the disease itself. Most oncologists have experienced the patients who start vomiting at the thought of their next clinic visit. At the University of Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine, a well-controlled study completed over two Years ago, the authors of the published paper reported significant reduction of nausea and vomiting when pre-treated with. It is now routinely administered before, after and in between chemotherapy treatment sessions for control or nausea and emesis. Such treatments are relatively simple and easily executed in an outpatient setting. Its effectiveness helps in minimizing the use of standard, expensive multi-drug anti-nausea regimens with their attendant side effects, given along with the chemotherapeutic agents.

That acupuncture is a powerful tool for general pain control is widely known. . Less known is its success use in some cancer-related pain and in reducing narcotic use and thereby minimizing the side effects confusion, disturbed mentation, behavioral changes, nausea and severe constipation.

Needling a variety of trigger and painful points, percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, and osteo-puncture, along with whole body energetic acupuncture support, .are approaches available to the acupuncturists. In the acupuncture paradigm, any chronic disease process depletes the energy level in the organism. Such depletion can be ameliorated, at least temporarily, by tonification, a process of imparting energy into the system. This is deemed necessary for more durable, successful pain control. It can also add to the patients' sense of well being and decrease the malaise associated with any chronic disease, especially cancer.

...Kenneth Conklin, M.D., Ph.D., an anesthesiologist at UCLA working with the Oncology Department, reports gratifying results utilizing nutrition and supplements combined with energetic acupuncture.

Energetic acupuncture repletes energy level to the organism as a whole, reestablishes homeostasis by re-balancing energy distribution and un-blocking energy flow. This systems approach to deal with system wide patho-physiology can be complemented by distinct meridian acupuncture, which directs healing energy to specific organ pathology and is a routine approach in treating diseased organs such as liver, pancreas kidney, including those ravaged by cancers.

While the degree of beneficial results from acupuncture treatment is dependent on various clinical factors such as presenting symptoms, clinical staging, timing of the encounter in the course of the illness, areas of involvement, the answer to the opening question "can acupuncture help me?" is, in all probability, that it can help in the care of the cancer patient.

For the complete text of this article see: http://www.medicalacupuncture.org/acu_info/articles/cancertreatment.html

Information  on this site is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your own physician or other medical professional. We make no claim as to efficacy or safety of herbs or herbal medicine appearing on this site. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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