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Cancer and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine)

Much of the following statistics and material for this article was taken from Chien-Fu Liao’s lecture on oncology, Chien-Fu Liao is a medical doctor in Taiwan.

According to the WHO )World Health Organization), cancer is the second
leading cause of death worldwide. There were 8.8 million deaths in 2015. Globally, almost 1/6 of all deaths are caused by cancer. The WHO states that 1/3 of all cancer deaths are due to five main causes: 1) Lack of consumption of fruits and vegetables 2) Lack of movement and exercise, i.e. sedentary lifestyle. 3) Alcohol consumption 4) Smoking 5) Overweight. Following are statistics by the WHO as causes of cancer:
Poor dietary habits, 35%; Smoking, 30%; Infections, 10%; Sexually transmitted
diseases, 7%; Occupational hazards 4%; Alcohol consumption, 3%; Geographic location, 3%; Pollution, 2%; Chemical poisoning 1%; Medications 1%; Other causes 4%.

The word cancer evolves from three ancient characters or ideographs in Chinese,
all pronounced “yan.” These characters refer to shape, appearance, and density which mean rocks, irregular in shape and hard. There are an additional two characters in Chinese, Zhong which means swelling and Liu which means remain. These two characters mean cancer denoting in the meaning the swelling that remains which cannot be dissipated. In Japanese, the word for cancer is “gan” and the character meaning is a “hard gathering, or hard mountain.” The word tumor was found in the oracle bones from the Yin Ruins in China long ago. The TCM description of cancer belongs to the category of swelling/tumors in TCM. Though there are no specific discussions or chapters devoted to cancer in ancient texts, there are specific references to its description and treatment methods. The Yellow Emperor’s Classic mentions several terms for different types of cancer, referring to the different internal organs. From the Tang and Jin Dynasties, various records of treating cancer have been found.

Zhou Hou Bei Ji Fang (Emergency Formulas to Keep Up One’s Sleeve) by Ge Hong in 341 A.D. has recordings of external treatments and internal herbs for abscesses, swellings, and masses that are hard as a rock. According to Zhu Bing Yuan Hou Lun (General Treatise on Causes and Manifestations of All Diseases) from the
Sui Dynasty, records of “Fan Hua Chuang” can be found. This disorder is similar to what we know today as skin cancer. In 1171, in the Song Dynasty, the word “Cancer” first
appeared in a book called Wei Ji Bao Shu written by Dong Xuan Ju Shi. He describes the condition manifesting as a non-ulcerating reddish purple swelling with slight pain and no apparent cause. In the Song Dynasty, Yang Shi Ying provided a detailed
description of cancer in his book Ren Zhai Zhi Zhi Fu Yi Fang Lun. The description included swellings that were above the skin but deeply rooted underneath and multiple clusters of deeply internalized masses. They were frequently found in the abdomen for men and the breast or upper body for women. Yang not only recorded the characteristics of cancer but also the locations in which it appeared most frequently and its severity. His description contributed to the understanding of how cancer develops. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, there were even more records of the TCM pathology, differential diagnosis, treatment and prevention of various cancers including those of the esophagus, stomach, breast, lung, and reproductive organs.

Allopathic (Western Medicine) relies on objective numbers and findings whereas
TCM relies on subjective presentations from the patient to make a differential diagnosis. A TCM diagnosis is reached according to symptoms of the internal organs and tissues and 8 principle differentiations using appearance of the patient (eyes, skin, hair for example, pulse diagnosis, tongue diagnosis, skin color, and sound or voice. The treatment plan can then be designed accordingly. Many more things can be learned from this method than just what can be seen in radiological studies and laboratory reports. These allopathic methods of diagnosis are also useful, to be certain, do not discount them. But, these are not enough findings to be able to treat the patient in whole.

According to TCM, cancer is no different than any other disorder in which a skilled practitioner must take into account the following to make a diagnosis: 6 types of pathogenic qi (life-force energy), 7 emotions, internal imbalances, improper diet, internal organ and tissue disharmony, constitutional deficiencies, etc. These imbalances in the body lead to obstruction in the channels and causes qi and blood stagnation, along with toxic phlegm accumulation, finally resulting in the growth of abnormal masses. Deficiency is the foundation of cancer formation. Together with other dysfunctions of醫the body, masses form and become malignant. Cancer belongs to the categories of Zheng Jia「(Mass Accumulation). It is not a simple localized condition, but rather a complex involving systemic deficiency and localized excess. Systemic deficiency means just that, the body is deficient (lacking), in its power to maintain as a healthy, whole organism. Though there are various types of cancer and each manifests differently, the fundamental principles of the formation and metastasis of cancer is the same.

The main causes of cancer according to TCM are: 1) Zheng Qi deficiency (the body’s defense mechanism is weak.) 2) Qi (life-force energy) and Blood Stagnation 3)Phlegm/damp accumulation (phlegm can lodged anywhere in the body, in the organs, in the interstitial tissue and muscle, etc.) 4)Toxic Heat Accumulation 5) Zang Fu (Internal organs) Disharmony. Zheng Qi deficiency refers to the overall deficiency of the body’s defense system and organ functions.The development of cancer is closely related
to the body’s Zheng Qi. Disease (unwanted pathogens or any abnormality) is only able to attack when the body is weak.

Zhang Yue Jing, a famous TCM doctor in the Ming Dynasty once said, “Spleen and Kidney deficient patients often have disorders involving stagnation and masses.” Dysfunction of the internal organs is a key cause of cancer. After cancer has formed in the organs, it destroys the function and Zheng Qi of the body. This is the reason patients often become more deficient as time goes by. In the initial stage, qi becomes deficient. In the secondary stage, blood and yin becomes deficient. In the last stage, yang becomes deficient. Surgery and radiation greatly injure qi and yin and
give cancer cells the opportunity to spread quickly.

Qi and blood are the foundation of health and their abundance reflects the health of the organs and their functions. Various scenarios can impede the proper formation and flow of qi and blood, leading to stagnation and finally to the formation of masses. Due to qi and blood stagnation and organ imbalance, the channels become stagnated and
fluids cannot disperse properly, thus forming dampness. Due to the action of heat, it becomes phlegm. Bear in mind, we are talking about systemic phlegm here, not just in the lungs or nose. According to TCM, mass formation is due to phlegm, in either the upper, middle or lower channels in the body. Phlegm and damp accompany the flow of qi and can be carried anywhere in the body.

Toxic heat accumulation is formed from prolonged excess heat and stagnant heat.
Together with phlegm, damp and blood stasis, masses form deep inside the body,
in between organs and visceral tissues, causing complications. These pathologies usually do not appear alone, but rather in combination.

Western medical diagnostic methods of diagnosis can often add additional insights and increase our accuracy of the diagnosis. Classic treatment methods for cancer utilize EVERY possible way to achieve a “cancer free” status and prolong a person’s life. Therefore during treatment, the goal is to KILL every single cancer cell. Therefore, in seeking to eradicate cancer all together,Western medicine strengthens the effect of chemotherapy, radiation and other treatment methods. However, there is still no guaranteed solution. Metastasis and recurrence are two difficult hurdles to overcome. Most patients suffer from a poor quality of life with Western medical treatment. Others die from the aggressive treatments.

The TCM perspective and treatment focus is NOT on the cancer itself but, rather, it treats holistically. The focus is on the health of the individual. Differential diagnosis, disease differentiation, herbs, acupuncture and dietary therapy can reduce the suffering and side effects from Western medical treatments. TCM can enhance the body’s own immune system and prolong the patient’s life and QUALITY of life. For those patients who cannot receive chemotherapy, radiation or surgery, Chinese herbs offer a great alternative to strengthen the constitution and to prolong life. Comprehensive TCM Treatments consists of:
• 藥 Herbal recipes to cook for meals
• 氣 Qi Gong
• 針 Acupuncture
• 按 Massage
• 敷 External Application of Herbs
• 精 Emotional/Shen Treatment
• Hobbies
• Herbal Medicine

To enhance the immune system, one needs to regulate the organ and channel functions; tonify yin, yang, qi and blood. This can strengthen the body, slow disease
progression and inhibit the development of cancer. The concept of “Restore Balance” includes many methods. This is one of the most important concepts when treating cancer. RESTORE BALANCE. Malignant tumors and cancer can destroy normal
tissues, leading to the disruption and dysfunction of the organs and eventually to poor absorption of nutrients, disruption of the metabolism and an impaired immune system. The main treatment strategy is to strengthen the digestive system and tonify the qi. Symptoms of malnutrition, emaciation, poor appetite, fatigue can all be improved.
There are many anti-cancer Chinese herbs which
1) Clear heat and toxins
2) Invigorate blood and remove stasis
3) Soften and remove masses
4) Toxic herbs to clear toxicity

Surgery can quickly remove the cancer but it is only suitable for beginning and mid-stages. Surgery CANNOT prevent recurrence and metastasis of cancer. Therefore, it cannot achieve any long term goal. Furthermore, anesthesia, blood loss and trauma
from surgery can severely damage the body, disrupt the internal organ functions and injure qi and blood. It is best to use Chinese herbs before and after surgery to reduce the risk of side effects and promote recovery. The most suitable herbs to be used before or after surgery include tonics for the qi, blood, Spleen, Liver and Kidney. Two weeks prior to surgery, the patient should start to strengthen his or her body. It is important to improve organ functions, especially the Liver and Kidney, with Chinese herbs. This can ensure a smoother recovery and avoid more serious or lasting side effects. Chinese herbs can speed up the post-surgical
recovery. Surgery can greatly injure both qi and blood manifesting in qi and blood or qi and yin deficiency. Nutritional qi and immune qi disharmony or spleen/stomach symptoms may occur. A TCM differential diagnosis is required prior to prescribing herbs.

Toxic side-effects of radiation are directly related to the location, area and dosage of
the treatment. Systemic reactions generally involve gastrointestinal disturbance and RBC reduction. The use of TCM herbs can increase and generate fluids, clear the toxic heat generated by the radiation, help heel the tissues. Radiation itself is toxic heat and needs to be treated to help the patient recover from the radiation itself.

The proper prescription and use of Chinese herbs for chemotherapy and radiation side effects is very useful and will help the patient recover their immune system, build and generate fluids and blood, and improve the digestive system. This is VERY important, not to be underestimated, how much building the body needs to do just to combat these typical Western medicine therapies. These herbs are very powerful to help the body recover and the herbs themselves have no ill side effects. They will only improve the body, if a qualified herbalist does the prescribing. The herbs can improve the liver, help it repair, improve the bone marrow and bone production from the bone marrow suppression effects of the chemotherapy, The herbs can help to restore the spleen, stomach, liver and kidneys and even improve the regrowth of hair. Utilizing the concept of restoring balance, Chinese herbs can increase the treatment effects and
reduce the toxic side effects of chemotherapy. The advantage of using Chinese herbs is strengthening the immune system, reduce the rate of recurrence and
metastasis and improve the quality of life and prolong life.

Faulty diiet and nutrition is the number one reason for cancer at the very beginning, so this cannot be stressed enough. Persons with cancer must eat a vegetarian diet with lots of cooked vegetables. Vegetables and fruit should make up 80% of the diet for people with cancer. But cooking should be for a very short time, 3-5 minutes. The food should not be raw. All meat must be stopped as it is one of the main sources of toxin from food. No fried food! Only whole grains, no refined or processed or canned food. The vegetables and fruits must be bought whole and cooked. They should be organic. Since cancer is an excess toxin, the source of it is mostly the food we take in and the chemicals we breathe in or absorb through our skin. Cosmetics are a great source of these chemicals, used heavily especially by women. All commercial perfumes, colognes, perfumed soaps, hair dyes; these are all sources of chemicals that are causing cancer. The use of pesticide, hair spray, hair mousses and herbicides in farming and in the gardens and lawns is another great source of causing such imbalances in the body of humans, animals and plants. Look for the diet therapy for cancer in the next article.

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