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How to Achieve Remission from Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

It’s necessary to properly diagnose Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The right treatments may help a person achieve total remission.

Female physician examining a man’s lymph nodes

Hodgkin’s lymphoma is named after Dr Thomas Hodgkin, who first described the symptoms of cancer of the lymph nodes in 1832.

It was called “Hodgkin’s disease” before being renamed in the late 20th century. The medical community at the time then decided to name the other, more heterogenous type of the disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. 

Read on to learn how to differentiate between the two and the treatment options that help a person achieve cancer remission.

How Different are Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma? 

These conditions share a few similar characteristics. Both Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma develop in the lymphatic system and influence white blood cells. They’re also more likely to develop in men than in women.

In addition, several viruses can make a person more vulnerable to either condition. These include: 

  • Human T-cell lymphotropic virus 

However, several key differences may help a healthcare provider diagnose and treat either condition correctly. Examples of these are

  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma typically affects people between the ages of 15 to 40 and above the age of 55; non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is more common among people above 60 
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma is characterised by the presence of Reed-Stenberg (abnormally large lymphocytes with more than one nucleus) cells; a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma biopsy may show the presence of cancerous cells 
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma is rare; non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the sixth most common cancer type 
  • Biopsy samples of people with Hodgkin’s lymphoma are more likely to show inflammation than those of people with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma  

Treatment Options   

Woman turning to look at streaks of redness on her right shoulder while sitting on the edge of a bathtub
Developing itchy skin after a bath is a sign of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. 

To diagnose either condition, a healthcare provider will ask if a patient if they’ve developed unexplained symptoms. These include a fever that doesn’t subside, weight loss, and night sweats.

Chest pain and abdominal pain or swelling are also symptoms of Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. A person with the former condition may develop itchy skin after a hot bath or consuming alcoholic beverages.

Be mindful that a healthcare provider can also choose to perform various tests during a consultation session. These include blood and imaging tests, a lymph node biopsy, or tests for hepatitis or HIV. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) records Hodgkin’s or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma with records of “Indurated Mass” (shi ju, 石疽), “Obstinate Nodule” (e he, 恶核), and “Phlegmatic Nodule” (tan he, 痰核). The onset of the conditions is related to factors such as: 

  • Psychological disarray 
  • Congenital deficiencies 
  • Irregular mealtimes and an unhealthy diet 
  • Problems involving the six Zang and five Fu organs 
  • Invasion of the Cold, Wind, Heat, Dampness, Dryness, and Fire factors  

Consequently, a person may develop phlegm, toxins, Stasis, and Deficiencies, which can lead to the onset of either condition. To address these imbalances, a licensed TCM practitioner may propose herbal formulas that support “health energy” and eliminate “Evil” factors.


The treatment’s primary mode of action is to kill cancer cells or prevent them from multiplying. A single type of chemotherapy or multiple chemotherapy types may treat Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. 

Chemotherapy can also be used alongside autologous or allogeneic stem cell transplantation to treat either condition.

An autologous transplant describes a procedure to replace abnormal or damaged stem cells in the body. An allogeneic transplant uses donor stem cells to cure blood disorders. 

Woman lying on her back with her hands behind her head as she talks to a physician before radiation therapy
Radiation therapy kills cancer cells and prevents their spread to other parts of the body.

Radiation therapy 

Like chemotherapy, radiation therapy uses high-powered X-rays or other types of radiation to eliminate cancer cells or stop them from multiplying.


Also called biologic therapy, immunotherapy can boost a person’s immune system. It accomplishes the objective by using immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) to help T-cells identify and destroy cancer cells.

Targeted therapy 

In the treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, antibody-drug conjugates can recognise and kill Reed-Sternberg cells.

Herbal formulas 

A traditional and holistic approach to treatment can strengthen the body and help suppress the growth of cancer cells.

“Natural formulas can minimise the damage done to healthy body cells. Thus, the body can recover faster from treatments like chemotherapy or targeted therapy,” explains Real Health Medical’s Chief Physician Chu I Ta.

The main TCM treatment principles for Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma are to support “health energy” and eliminate “Evil” factors.

Supporting “health energy” involves: 

  • Tonifying qi (vital life force) and nourishing blood 
  • Tonifying the Kidneys and replenishing jing (essence) 
  • Strengthening the Spleen and reinforcing the stomach 

Eliminating “Evil” factors comprises steps such as: 

  • Reducing phlegm and resolving mass 
  • Rectifying Stasis and subduing swelling 
  • Clearing Heat and removing toxins 

Physician Chu proposes individual formulas for each specific purpose. These include: 

  • Hua Ji Wan (化积丸): For a syndrome of intermingled phlegm and Stasis 
  • Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang (犀角地黄汤): To clear toxins and excessive Heat 
  • Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan (知柏地黄丸): For Kidney and Liver Yin (passive energy) Deficiencies 
  • Ba Zhen Tang with Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang (八珍汤合膈下逐瘀汤): For Qi and Blood Deficiencies 
  • Si Jun Zi Tang with Mai Wei Di Huang Tang (四君子汤合麦味地黄汤): For Qi and Yin Deficiencies  

A treatment regimen centred on clinical and traditional remedies can help people overcome Hodgkin’s or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The formulas Physician Chu proposes are generally safe for consumption but derived from different ingredients. Hence, it’s best not to self-medicate and to consult a TCM practitioner beforehand to avoid potential contraindications.  


  1. LEUKEMIA & LYMPHOMA SOCIETY. HODGKIN LYMPHOMA. [online] [Accessed on 15 September 2022]
  2. National Library of Medicine. 2015. A Historical Tale of Two Lymphomas. [online] [Accessed on 15 September 2022]
  3. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. 2021. Hodgkin vs. non-Hodgkin lymphoma: What’s the difference? [online] [Accessed on 15 September 2022]
  4. Cleveland Clinic. Hodgkin Lymphoma. [online] [Accessed on 15 September 2022]

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