Integrating TCM for Cancer Support
In China, there is a branch of medicine known as Fu Zheng therapy. “Fu” means to fortify, and “Zheng” refers to the center of the constitution. Fu Zheng therapy, which fortifies and restores the center, is an immune-enhancing regimen of Chinese herbs often used to complement conventional cancer treatments such as radiation, chemotherapy and surgery. Studies have shown that using Chinese medicine alongside conventional medical treatment can enhance and improve outcomes. Studies have shown that the herbal adaptogens used in Fu Zheng therapy can regulate the function of the adrenals, increasing the production of both red and white blood cells, as well as the number of natural killer (NK) cells. They can also strengthen the immune system, support the therapeutic effects of chemotherapy and radiation, improve quality of life, and help to lessen the likelihood of cancer recurrence.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views cancer as a Qi or blood stagnation, a lack of movement in the flow of substances in the body. Cancer can also be viewed as phlegm: a mass or substance that’s not moving. These three types of stagnation are thought to result from a variety of factors including a weak immune system, emotional disharmony, environmental factors and lifestyle habits.
In TCM, lumps, masses, sticky fluids and mucus need to be removed from the body to promote the flow of Qi and blood. Pain, especially in a fixed location associated with a tumor, must also be eliminated in order to move Qi and blood. Inflammation from radiation, as well as constipation, dry mouth, and fever all require ways to be cooled down. TCM aims to disperse or eliminate phlegm, move Qi and blood, clear heat and tonify.
Chemotherapy, radiation and surgery can weaken the body, causing extreme fatigue in energy and blood, as well as mental and emotional fatigue. TCM can be used to tonify the body during and after cancer treatment, nourishing the Qi, blood and any underlying deficiencies.
Cancer and conventional treatments for it are also toxic, burdening the lymphatic system, which is responsible for filtering and eliminating toxins. TCM can increase circulation, aiding the release of toxins, which can improve overall health.
At Tao of Wellness we work with patients being treated for cancer using TCM to restore or strengthen the immune system, treating both the person and the disease. By integrating all the modalities of TCM (acupuncture, herbal and dietary therapy, cupping, Qi Gong and Tai Chi) into a healing strategy to support conventional treatment for cancer, outcomes can improve, enhancing quality of life and accelerating recovery.
Note: Frances Lam, L.Ac., and Dr. Mao are writing a book on integrating TCM for cancer support. It will be published in 2018.