TCM Approach To Prevent and Treat CancerTom Fung, R.Ac., R.TCMP November 1, 2016
The reasons for the formation of abnormal growth of cancer cells are complex and still not fully understood by the principles of Western medicine. But according to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory and the analysis of clinical data, cancer can be connected to specific internal and external causes.
External causes: External causes interpreted by TCM include the six external factors: wind, cold, summer heat, dampness, dryness, and fire. Dampness, heat, and fire can be caused by living organisms such as viruses and bacteria, or by chemical factors. The phenomenon of heat and fire is caused by the human defence mechanisms, as well as by the climate of different seasons and geographical regions.
Internal causes: TCM theory states that cancer’s internal causes can be linked to emotional trauma. Extreme emotions may disturb the normal “qi” (vital energy) and blood. When you are angry, the qi will move upward; when you are happy, it moves slowly; when you are sad, it disappears; when you hesitate, qi will stagnate; when you have fear, qi will go downward; when frightened, qi forms a mass; when you are cold, it moves inwards; when you feel hot, it leaks out; when you are exhausted, the qi is used up.
For instance, breast cancer can be linked to chronic emotional states such as depression, hesitation, and worry. This will block the qi in the channels and collaterals. Osteoma is due to the injury of kidney qi through excessive desires or fear. The “stagnated fire” from kidneys burns up the nutrition of bones and hence forms a tumour, which is as hard as a rock and mobile.
Besides the internal and external causes, an irregular lifestyle, improper food habits, excessive drinking, lack of nutrition, overeating, and an abnormal sexual lifestyle (such as excessive or lack of sexual activity) can also cause cancer. For example, an over-active sex life can burn out kidney yin, which will cause an uprising of liver fire. On the other hand, a complete lack of normal sexual activity can contribute to prostate and ovarian cancer.
The Prevention Of Cancer
Malignant tumours are dangerous to human life. Therefore, people should be aware of how to prevent carcinogenic conditions:
- Maintain emotional stability;
- Avoid air pollution;
- Get proper rest and exercise;
- Avoid excessive alcohol intake;
- Quit smoking;
- Avoid overcooking food. (Avoid smoked meat and smoked fish, and do not overeat. Cut down on animal fats and pickled vegetables. Food condiments, additives and dyes contain carcinogens. Meat and fish should not be overcooked or burned, as meat contains the amino acid tryptophan, which may morph into a carcinogen once burned.)
According to TCM theory, you will be healthy if you harmonize yourself with nature. If you fight against nature, you will put your health at risk.
In regards to a cancer prevention diet, vegetables such as carrots, radishes, Chinese cabbages, spinach, leeks, tomatoes, bean sprouts, peas, potatoes, and asparagus contain an enzyme that destroys nitrosamine and prevents tumour formation. Carrots and radishes also contain lignin, which increases phagocytosis (a process whereby phagocytes ingest harmful bacteria and foreign matter) by two to three times. Raw garlic intake is beneficial. A diet high in fibre from vegetables and grain helps bowel movements and helps prevent cancer. Fruit and green tea are also good because they decrease the absorption of carcinogens in the bladder and urinary tract. Traditional Chinese Medicine takes the thermal properties of each food into account, for example: fruit has a cooling effect; boiled, stewed, and steamed food is desirable for cancer patients, but not dry and hard food (due to their weak digestive fire which makes it difficult to digest many things). As well, anything that contains a rich source of vitamin C and E can accelerate cell division and prolongs cell life.
Traditional Chinese Medicine offers some of the most valuable healing techniques for cancer. According to ancient theories, there are different names for cancer, such as accumulation, stone, yin pimple, and yang pimple. My personal view is that integrating all the techniques of holistic methods will achieve holistic results because we cannot isolate parts of the human body, and cancer cells do not confine themselves to one part or one system.
TCM Approaches To Cancer
There is not one formula for all types of cancer, and each formula needs to be modified according to different types of tumours. For instance, persons A and B have tumours – they both have swelling, but B’s tumour is red in colour, which we can see visually. We call person A’s tumour a yin tumour and person B’s a yang tumour. Even though they are in the same location, we have to use two different formulas because yang tumours have a stronger defence mechanism, as person B has a stronger immune system. In TCM theory, we call person B someone with strong qi. In this case, person B is easier to treat than person A. Person A’s tumour would be difficult to treat because the tumour does not have redness, which indicates a weak immune system.
Some Chinese herbs can be poisonous and the dosage applied must be very accurate and small. For example, in the case of a mineral such as “arsenolite”, between 0.1 – 0.2 g of it can kill a person but in a smaller dosage it can be used to treat leukemia. There is an old saying in TCM theory: for any medicine such as stone and metal, once we hit the disease, we have to stop. Generally speaking, according to research from the Chinese scientists in China, when cancer cells absorb the active ingredients from TCM medicine, the cancer cells would die, but it would not damage the normal cells. This approach is different from chemotherapy, which attempts to kill all the cells and the side effects are very powerful.
Herbal Wrap: This is a mixture of herbal ingredients. The treatment strategy is also based on yin and yang types of tumours, as well as which energy channel they belong to or which part of the human body is affected. With an external herbal wrap and an internal intake, the treatment will have a stronger effect.
Acupuncture: There are two kinds of needle manipulation techniques. For example, for yin tumours, we have to use reinforcing techniques. For yang tumours, we have to use reducing techniques. But it would be effective only if the tumour happens in a superficial area such as the surface of the skin or the four limbs, because of the obstruction in the channel. Once the tumour grows inside the organ, I do not believe that acupuncture treatment would be effective.
Moxibustion: This can apply to a situation of yang deficiency or qi deficiency in the human body.
Ear Pellets or Herbal Seed: This is for external application for cancer patients. They have to massage those pellets or seeds on the external surface of the ear which is related to the organ. This can also enhance the therapeutic effects of cancer treatment with no side effects because of the theory of a self-adjust mechanism, such as acupuncture.
Qi Gong (Meditation): This is also very effective. The patient has to cooperate with the doctor and train everyday at different times. You also have to find a TCM doctor who really knows Qi Gong. There are some situations when the patient cannot calm down and concentrate their mind. In this case, I would advise the use of a biofeedback machine.
Tui Na Massage: Massage with a special herbal formula can alleviate some of the pain of cancer, which is also a way to enhance the therapeutic effect, but is not an effective way to treat cancer.
Diet: The TCM doctor has to collect information on the patient’s diet because certain types of food may be harmful. For example, barbecued meat and fish can create heat (inflammation) and toxins, which can form cancer cells. In TCM theory, we use the term “burned food.” Very often, cancer patients cannot eat burned food, especially if someone has a yang tumour. Also, food condiments, additives, and dyes contain the carcinogen nitrosamine.
Lifestyle: Happiness is important. For example, based on TCM theory, if a person is not happy in a marriage, both sides will fight constantly. This can create qi stagnation, and qi stagnation can easily lead to blood stagnation, which is the fundamental cause of cancer. And if someone works in an unhappy or stressful environment, then they have to leave the situation or risk getting a disease.
Emotion Therapy: Counselling and therapy such as positive thinking can also enhance the therapeutic effect of cancer treatment.
Self-Help And Treatment
- Walking Exercises: Drop your shoulders, relax, and walk slowly for one hour every day.
- Garlic Intake: The best garlic is the variety with purple skin. Peel off the skin, crack three cloves of garlic, and swallow with water after each meal. (Editor’s note: Garlic is very ‘hot’ in nature, and some people have an allergy to it. Start slowly with one small clove to test your reaction.)
- Water Therapy: Water can be mixed with the Chinese herb Stalactitum, which looks like ginger in shape. It contains certain microelements that prevent and treat cancer. Cancer patients can put 60 grams of Stalactitum into two litres of water and drink daily, or they may make tea with it. People can also take 10 to 30 grams of Stalactitum powder every day. Stalactitum develops naturally in wells and springs. (Available through some TCM practitioners.)
- Positive Thinking: Cancer patients must try to keep happy most of the time. They should go out and talk with friends, make new friends, and have some fun. Depression is a destructive energy!
- Rest: Plenty of rest is good therapy, especially when someone is over-stressed or over-worked!
Tom Fung is a Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner and Acupuncturist practising in Ontario. He is also the Founder and Chief Instructor of Self Balance Meditation Association. His office is located at: 179 Main St. N., Markham, ON. For more information or an appointment, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, call: (905) 554-8849, or visit: www.drtomfungclinic.ca