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TCM and Cancer Management

Managing cancer with TCM has gained popularity as some Western methods like chemotherapy have fallen out of favor. Chemotherapy uses extremely powerful drugs to attempt to kill cancer cells. While this controversial treatment may control some types of cancers and possibly prolong the lives of some patients, chemotherapy has a myriad of negative side effects. Among these are nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, anemia, body aches, headaches, night sweats, stomach cramps, and diarrhea, just to name a few.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has long held that many cancers can be managed with the right combination of acupuncture and herbs. To begin with, the most popular herbs are an important source of natural antioxidants. These are the compounds that help neutralize free radicals (atoms or groups of atoms that damage or kill cells). Some herbs are better sources of antioxidants than berries, fruits, and vegetables. Issac Cohen, an Oriental medicine practitioner and a leading authority in the field of cancer treatment, reported in the book Breast Cancer: Beyond Convention that several Chinese herbs show good anticancer activity.

Rosemary, for example, may detoxify substances that can initiate the breast-cancer process. It’s widely known that an imbalance of estrogen hormones in women can contribute to breast cancer. Rosemary offers a safe, natural alternative by stimulating liver enzymes, which inactivate estrogen hormones.

To help manage ovarian and breast cancer, oregano and extracted oil of oregano may offer some benefit. For colorectal, prostate, and lung cancers, Curcumin may have a preventive effect. Animal studies reveal that Curcumin may protect the liver, inhibit tumors, reduce inflammation, and fight some infections.

Another popular herb that has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents is ginger. Researchers from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center believe that ginger not only kills cancer cells, but also prevents them from becoming resilient to chemotherapy.  When scientists combined a solution of ginger powder and water with ovarian cancer cells, the cancer cells died from being in contact with the ginger.

For those undergoing chemotherapy, acupuncture can provide relief with such common side effects as hot flashes, night sweats, and excessive sweating. Acupuncture also offers several positive benefits for those facing cancer, including an enhanced sense of well-being, increased energy and, in some cases, even a stronger sex drive.