Cancer Support

Atlanta Cancer Support

The Role of Chinese Medicine in Oncology Treatment

Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture are the two primary modalities Chinese medicine employs to treat and prevent disease. Over the past decades in the U.S. acupuncture has gained wider acceptance and recognition; however Chinese medicinal herbs have yet to be fully embraced by western trained physicians as an effective means of treating many complex illnesses. In China, both western and Chinese medicine are available to patients. Each system has its own merit and strengths and patients often will most benefit from an integrated Western-Chinese medical approach. For many specialty Chinese medical departments such as gynecology, internal medicine, and oncology, herbal medicine is the primary means of treatment.

In China, Chinese herbal formulas are frequently used in conjunction with acupuncture to alleviate adverse side effects of surgery, or chemo and radiotherapy in cancer or tumor treatment. In some cases, Chinese medicine is the only treatment a Chinese patient would accept due to their personal beliefs, age, specific physical condition, or fear of surgical, chemo and radiotherapy or financial situation. However, because of the risk and complexity of cancer, the integration of western and Chinese medicine is recommended in most cases to achieve better treatment outcomes [1].

Chinese medicine, including herbal formulas and acupuncture will support oncology patients who receive surgical measures, or chemo and radiotherapy in many ways. The benefits may include:

  • Eases and expedites the recovery process
  • Reduces and hastens the recovery from post-surgerical complications such as pain, and decreased motor, language or other functional skills
  • Alleviate pain without introducing drug dependency or addiction
  • Reduces the side effects of chemo or radiotherapy such as nausea, vomiting, severe thirst, poor appetite, fatigue, night sweats and hair loss to help patients complete their western treatment protocols
  • Neutralizes the toxic reaction of chemo therapy
  • Decreases the chances of metastasis or recurrence of tumor by promoting the immune ability of the patients
  • Prolongs the life of cancer patients
  • Plays a big role in terminal care for cancer patients for the worst scenarios, owing to the pain management ability of Chinese medicine

Another advantage of Chinese medicine as the means of cancer support, similar to treating other illnesses, is that each patient will be prescribed with prudently individualized herbal formula or a set of acupuncture points according to their unique situation. Furthermore, the prescription will be adjusted along with the change of the physical and mental conditions of the patient. One important Chinese medicine belief is that there is no cookie-cutter approach while dealing with a unique person, even though the disease might be the same.

Chinese medicine has much to offer here and its treatment methodology is both time-tested and backed by much research. Unfortunately many physicians may be unaware of the benefits of Chinese Medicine for cancer patients. Many oncologists may be reluctant to refer to an Acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist because they do not understand how they work.

If you are interested in utilizing Acupuncture and Chinese herbs to help you during your treatment and the recovery period, I suggest you share these links of valuable research and information with him or her.

Research is the language of communication that your doctor will be most comfortable with.

If you have any questions before or after speaking with your physician please give us a call. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss your case both with you and your doctor.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19082795
2. National Cancer Institute – Human/Clinical Studies http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/acupuncture/HealthProfessional/page6
3.Improved Outcomes When Combining TCM With Western Interventions for Cancer: http://www.AcupunctureToday.com/archives2005/sep/09fratkin.html
4. Information about Chinese medicine and Cancer Care http://www.chinese-medicine-works.com/pdfs/cancercmbeinfieldkorngold.pdf
5. Please phone or email us for this comprehensive journal article: Acupuncture: Role in Comprehensive Cancer Care – A Primer for the Oncologist and Review of the Literature by Andrea J. Cohen, MD