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This is a frequently asked question, and doctors in China are certainly trying to treat breast cancer exclusively with Chinese herbal medicine or qi gong. Ongoing research on a number of Chinese herbs shows promising anti-cancer effects. Nevertheless, the clinical efficacy of stand-alone Chinese medicine for breast cancer has not been substantiated.

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Breast Cancer

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By Jake Paul Fratkin, OMD, LAc

Can Chinese medicine help treat breast cancer?

This is a frequently asked question, and doctors in China are certainly trying to treat breast cancer exclusively with Chinese herbal medicine or qi gong. Ongoing research on a number of Chinese herbs shows promising anti-cancer effects. Nevertheless, the clinical efficacy of stand-alone Chinese medicine for breast cancer has not been substantiated.

Most Chinese herbal doctors recognize that established breast cancer requires strong Western approaches to destroy tumors and cancerous cells. So they practice conventional approaches for cancer control including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy—very much in line with what occurs in the US.

China differs from the West, however, in its willingness to integrate herbs and acupuncture with these other forms of treatment to speed and enhance recovery. This approach is well documented in English language literature from both China and America. Breast cancer patients who receive a combination of Chinese medicine and Western therapies experience increased recovery rates, higher five-year survival rates, and decreased side effects.

The most common use of Chinese medicine in breast cancer treatments—either herbs, acupuncture, or both—is to offset the negative side effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea, loss of appetite, skin itching, fatigue, and peripheral neuropathy. Treatment for hair loss occurs after the last chemotherapy session. Using acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine during and after radiation also helps recovery from surgery. At the most basic level, these treatments regulate the liver and spleen-pancreas and create good quality qi and blood as well.

Chemotherapy, while toxic to cancer cells, also severely damages the liver, and the Chinese medicine approach of moving qi and blood helps to detoxify that organ. This approach also regulates liver and spleen-pancreas function, effective for stopping nausea. Radiation in turn damages the blood and burns surrounding tissue. Chinese herbal medicine helps rebuild blood and clear heat damage to tissue. We use specific herbs that are cooling to the damaged tissue, and other herbs that build healthy tissue. Over-the-counter products can’t accomplish this complex task—instead it requires a practitioner familiar with Chinese herbal therapy for cancer support.

Ultimately, cancer precursor cells, which abound in the body, are held in check by the body’s immune system. Chinese herbal medicine or acupuncture builds the immune system by regulating and tonifying its component parts: kidney function (which includes the adrenal and endocrine systems), spleen function (which includes the digestive system’s ability to absorb and convert food nutrients), liver function and its ability to metabolize toxins, and blood quality.

One of the greater tragedies of modern medicine is its refusal to recognize the benefits of Chinese medicine in the management and recovery of c...

Author: Jake Paul Fratkin, OMD, LAC

Copyright 1999-2009 Natural Solutions: Vibrant Health, Balanced Living/Alternative Medicine/InnoVisi...

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