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Managing Cancer with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs

Cancer is an overall term for a large group of diseases that occur because of abnormal cell reproduction, which eventually damages the healthy tissue. Most cancers form tumors, the masses composed of a cluster of abnormal cells. Benign (or noncancerous) tumors do not spread to other parts of the body and do not create new tumors. Malignant (or cancerous) tumors crowd out healthy cells, interfere with body functions, and draw nutrients from the body tissues. Cancers continue to grow and spread by direct extension or through a process called metastasis, whereby the malignant cells travel through the lymphatic system or bloodstream, eventually forming new tumors in other parts of the body.

Most cancers are named according to where they begin in the body, and there are over 100 different types. The most common are breast cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer.

Treatments for cancer is based on the type and stage of the cancer and overall condition of the patient. Conventional medical treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. While cancer treatments have proven to be effective, they do have serious side effects to consider. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be used as safe and effective palliative care, relieving symptoms caused by cancer and side effects from conventional medical treatments.


Risk Factors for Cancer

  • Older age
  • Family history of cancer
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Some types of viral infections, such as hepatitis B and C and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
  • Certain chemicals, such as asbestos, aflatoxin and arsenic 
  • Exposure to ultraviolet and ionizing radiation

Cancer in TCM

In TCM history, cancer as a malignant tumour has been long recognized. The earliest Chinese written record of a tumour was discovered in the oracle bones of Yin Dynasty (B.C. 1373-1123). In a medical book written in 1171 during Song Dynasty (A.D.960-1279), Chinese word for cancer was first used, which described cancers as masses that were rock-firm and had uneven surfaces.

TCM believes that cancer development is basically from a weakened Qi (the vital energy of the body) that makes people susceptible to different carcinogens. When multiple factors repeatedly act on the body leading to disharmony and dysfunction of Zang Fu organs, they cause an accumulation of pathological waste products, and eventually induce abnormal growth in certain places.


TCM Treatment for Cancer

Conventional medical treatments like surgery, radiation or chemotherapy mainly target the cancer cells, with little concern about the overall condition of the body. Although they have proven to be effective, they do cause moderate to serious side effects including pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, anxiety, depression, insomnia, hot flashes, diarrhea, and constipation. In TCM words, these treatments act powerfully on eliminating the ‘evils’, but do serious damage to the ‘healthy energy’; as a result, the ‘habitat’ that facilitates the growth of cancer cells still exists, which brings a poor prognosis.

TCM treatment modalities such as acupuncture, acupressure and Chinese herbal medicine are less aggressive. TCM treatments for cancer focus on enhancing the body’s own healing power by strengthening Qi and restoring the balance of the internal Zang Fu organs. TCM also help relieve stress, depression and anxiety, which can greatly improve the quality of life. With its ability to support a person’s body and mind, TCM can safely and effectively address various symptoms resulting from cancer itself and side effects of standard cancer treatments, shorten the recovery time, increase survival rates, and improve quality of life.


Benefits of TCM Treatment

  • Effectively manages the symptoms of cancers
  • Significantly reduces the complications of conventional therapies
  • Arrests progression of the condition
  • Prevents recurrence
  • Improves overall health
  • Considerably prolongs the life 
  • Improves the quality of life
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