Reviewed by Dr Andre Budihardjo, MM
3 Ways TCM Benefits Cancer Patients
Published | 4 min read
Cancer patients can benefit from incorporating TCM therapies into their cancer treatment. Here are three reasons why.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) increasingly plays a complementary and adjunctive role to conventional cancer treatment. Let’s delve into how TCM views cancer and three ways it can help cancer patients on their journey to recovery.
How TCM Views Cancer
TCM views cancer as a disease that arises due to several factors that greatly weaken the body:
- A compromised or weakened immune system
- Microbial pathogens or environmental toxins
- Emotional and psychological stress
- A harmful diet
In TCM, cancer-related syndromes cause the inflammatory accumulation of pathogens (Heat,
3 Ways TCM Helps Cancer Patients Fight the Disease
Here are three ways cancer patients can benefit from using TCM as part of their cancer treatment.
Prepares the body for cancer treatment
Clinical cancer treatment such as surgery relies on the aggressive and invasive removal of cancerous growth. TCM’s holistic approach to a whole-body balance and health helps enhance a cancer patient’s resilience during treatment.
Research has shown that pre-operative acupuncture can help relieve pre-operative anxiety as well as assist with anaesthesia during surger
Alleviates side effects of clinical treatment
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy often come with major side effects such as nausea and weakened immunity because of a depletion in qi. These side effects can be so debilitating that sometimes patients consider stopping treatment.
One side effect is chemotherapy-induced nausea, which makes it difficult for patients to eat without vomiting. Without adequate nutrition, recovery can be seriously undermined. This is where TCM’s qi-restoring strategies can help.
A Beijing study of 134 participants published in 2020 demonstrated that acupuncture reduced the severity of nausea and vomiting. The study also noted the much-improved nutritional status among the group that received acupuncture.
TCM herbs have also been shown to reduce the adverse effects of chemotherapy drugs. Senior TCM physician He Qiu Ling cites the example of her 50-year-old nasopharyngeal cancer patient who managed to heal with the help of
He suffered from oral ulcers and poor appetite after his cancer treatment and was prescribed herbs to nourish his yin and blood and invigorate his qi.
After three weeks, his oral ulcers healed, and he could ingest soft foods again. Two months after treatment, most of his symptoms were eased and he was able to work and resume regular activities.
Suppresses the growth of tumours
More recently, there has been research that indicates certain TCM herbs have anti-cancer effects.
According to TCM, inflammation caused by cancer cells results in a worsening condition or metastasis. This happens through the accumulation of Stagnated toxins — termed Fire toxins — in the visceral organs and meridians. Cancer cells then grow uncontrollably, spreading to other parts of the body.
Certain herbs can expel these toxins and reduce inflammation, suppressing cancer growth to a degree, asserts Physician He. An article published by Cancer Medicine in 2019 seems to agree with her. The article cites studies that show how certain compounds like
Incorporating TCM therapies into cancer treatment provides a holistic approach to support healing in cancer patients. Its relatively gentle and gradual effects help deflect the side effects of aggressive treatments. At the same time, it strengthens the body’s ability to fight the disease.
It’s also necessary to let an oncologist know you want to try adjunctive treatments. It’ll ensure the effectiveness of clinical and TCM remedies and prevent potential contraindications.
This is an adaptation of the article “3 Ways TCM Benefits Cancer Patients”, which first appeared on the Eu Yan Sang website.
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- Chinese Medicine. 2020. Efficacy of acupuncture in the prevention and treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in patients with advanced cancer: a multi-center, single-blind, randomized, sham-controlled clinical research. [Accessed 7 February 2023]
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