Traditional Chinese Medicine

Cancer treatment with Chinese medicine(CM) also referred to as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has a long history dating back to the Huangdi Neijing (黃帝內經) or The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Cannon, which was written between the late Warring States period (475­­­­–221 BC) and the Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE) (Sivin, 1993). Chinese herbal medicines (ChM) are commonly used by cancer patients to alleviate the side‐effects of chemotherapy. These medicines improve immune function, protect healthy tissue from damage, thereby reducing infection; reducing cancer-related symptoms; reducing chemotherapy-induced toxicities; and improving quality of life (QoL) for patients (Nie et al., 2015). There are many evidence-based studies on ChM for use as a complementary treatment that is, used with chemo and/or radiotherapy or as a treatment to support remission.

ChM as adjuvant cancer therapy based on the theory and clinical practice of Chinese medicine (CM). Source: reprinted from Hsiao & Liu, 2010, p. 1120.

There is evidence to suggest that immunological improvements in cancer patients is associated with an improvement in their survival (Zhu et al., 2014; Sato et al., 2005). For example, Fu Zheng therapy or herbs such as Radix ginseng (Ren Shen), Ganoderma (Ling Zhi), Radix Astragalus membranaceus (Huang Qi), Radix Angelica sinensis (Dang Gui), Cordyceps sinensis (Dong Chong Xia Cao), and Fructus Lycii (Gou Qi Zi) are used to enhance the immune system, as well as strengthen qi and resistance to oncogenic factors (Abrams & Weil, 2014). Fu Zheng herbs were combined with radiotherapy for patients with cancer to sustain remission (Pan, Li & Chen, 1985).

CM sees cancer as a whole-body issue rather than an isolated event and therefore treats the whole person not just the disease. This treatment is always individualised and the treatment evolves as the patient progresses. While no one has a complete understanding of the cause of cancer other than well-known factors such as smoking, being over-weight and other life-style factors, CM sees that some fundamental imbalance is occurring. A complete diagnosis by our team looks at a number of these factors to determine the individual treatment protocol. Cancer is complex and needs complex treatments to restore balance and promote recovery and sustain remission.

Modern ChM is evidence-based, which means it uses research and trials to ensure the approach is compatible with other medical interventions and allows for greater efficacy, which creates an opportunity for integrative care. It is a fusion of the wisdom of the past with modern science to bring the best treatments available today.