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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Jessica Gunawan on November 2, 2022

Best Healthy Habits to Support Your Cancer Treatment Plan

A cancer treatment plan that includes holistic remedies can help optimize your recovery. Continue to use these tips even after you've achieved remission.

Cancer treatment min scaled

You may notice that your cancer treatment varies depending on the stage of your disease.

A good cancer treatment care plan can help you manage symptoms and greatly improve your quality of life while you recover.

Research shows that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is highly effective at managing many cancer symptoms.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to incorporate holistic remedies into your cancer treatment plan to optimize your health.

How Does Cancer Develop?

A female cancer patient undergoing IV treatment
TCM can be incorporated into your cancer treatment plan to reduce symptoms.

All cancer types transpire from the mutation of one or more genes in a cell. Mutation creates an abnormal protein, which provides cells with different information than normal protein. Subsequently, cells will multiply uncontrollably and become cancerous.

There are two types of genetic mutations. These are known as acquired and germline mutations. Acquired mutations are the most common cause of cancer and stem from damage to genes in a particular cell. The cell then divides multiple times, forming a tumor. A few factors that can provoke acquired mutations are

  • Age 
  • Obesity
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Tobacco use 
  • Viruses 
  • Chemicals (carcinogens)
  • Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation 

Germline mutations are less common and pass from parent to child during conception. It happens in a sperm or egg cell and is copied into every cell in the body.

Separately, TCM believes that cancer arises from internal and external circumstances. Internal circumstances refer to poor organ health and obstruction of blood and qi flow in the body. External circumstances that aggravate cancer are: 

  • Extreme displays of emotion like being overly happy and excited 
  • Overconsumption of grilled, oily, and fatty foods 
  • Exposure to toxic substances, poor air quality, and extreme temperatures

Cancer Treatment Options

The most notable clinical treatment options for cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. Sometimes, a combination of treatments may be required, depending on the type of cancer a person is diagnosed with.

TCM tackles illness holistically. For instance, if a person suffers pain due to cancer, treatment will focus on rectifying its underlying triggers.

However, do keep in mind that TCM should only complement remedies prescribed by Western medicine and not be the only treatment used for cancer.

Preparing the mind and body for what’s to come

A smiling young female cancer patient wearing a sunhat with no hair
Preparing your mind and body for cancer treatment can help improve your quality of life.

Cancer treatment is an ordeal, which is why a person should prepare themselves psychologically. One way to do so is to understand therapy’s best and worst outcomes.

Speaking to people with cancer or joining a support group can also help. Likewise, being physically active can help a person cope with treatment better, recover faster, and help them feel more in control of their health.

  • In addition, the use of herbal ingredients may suppress tumor growth prior to cancer treatment. These include dandelion (Pu Gong Ying), Andrographis (Chuan Xin Lian), and Prunella (Xia Ku Cao).
  • Research shows that the medicinal mushroom Lingzhi also contains tumor-suppressing properties. It also helps improve the body’s resistance to stress, boosts immunity, and fights anxiety and depression.

Incorporate good habits into your daily routine

Maintaining good hygiene is fundamental in preventing infection while going through chemotherapy. To accomplish this, a person should: 

  • Wash their hands frequently 
  • Take a shower or bath once daily with warm water and mild soap 
  • Brush their teeth several times a day with a soft toothbrush 

It’s also necessary to avoid cuts, especially when using gardening, cleaning, or using sharp objects. If a person does get hurt, they must wash the wound thoroughly, apply an antibiotic cream on the affected area, and cover it with a bandage.

Herbal ingredients can be used to help maintain a person’s strength and calm the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. For instance, nausea and diarrhea can be relieved with the consumption of astragalus (Huang Qi), ginger (Sheng Jiang), and jujubes Fruit (Da Zao). 

Continue your cancer treatment plan after remission

An image of foods that make up the anti-inflammatory diet
Maintaining a healthy diet can help you feel your best even as you recover from cancer.

After achieving cancer remission, a person may still experience the late effects of treatment. Therefore, to fend off a recurrence of the disease, it is best to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption lowers the risk of getting the same type of cancer or cancer at the same site. Eating a plant-based diet that comprises five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily is optimal. Moderate amounts of physical activity can reduce anxiety or depression, as well as symptoms like fatigue, nausea, pain, or diarrhea.

TCM plays an integral role in easing the adverse effects of chemotherapy, thus improving a cancer survivor’s quality of life.

It is still possible to experience cancer symptoms long after remission. Ultimately, it depends on how well a person’s body absorbs medication, and their ability to stick to a healthy lifestyle and diet plan. To keep allergic reactions away with alternative remedies, speak to a licensed TCM practitioner.

This is an adaptation of an article called “Cancer: A TCM Perspective” that first appeared on the Eu Yan Sang website.

Would you consider using TCM as part of your cancer treatment plan? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

References

  1. American Cancer Society. Signs and Symptoms of Cancer
  2. American Society of Clinical Oncology. The Genetics of Cancer
  3. Cleveland Clinic. 2019. 5 Things You Should Do Before Cancer Treatment
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Staying Healthy During Cancer Treatment
  5. National Cancer Institute. Life After Cancer Treatment
  6. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Chapter 9. 2011. Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi)

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Reviews (2)

BrunaMar 03 2023

Very good article, thank you!

All Things Health TeamMar 05 2023

Thank you for the kind words, Bruna! Do share this with anyone who needs this info.

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