Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs in Richmond, VA
Wang, Xiaoyan, L. Ac., MD (China)
Phone: (804) 301-1784
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Traditional Chinese medicine views cancer as a slowing or stoppage (stasis) in the flow of substances in the body. In particular, cancer is understood to have underlying factors that allow cancer to develop. For example, factors such as qi stasis, blood stasis, and phlegm, are responsible for masses and abnormal cellular growth. These three types of stasis are thought to result from a variety of factors including emotional disharmony (which is said to cause stasis in the body), improper diet and exercise, and external pathogenic factors (which may remain in the body and cause stasis).

The type of stasis underlying a TCM understanding of cancer depends upon signs and symptoms and the Zang Fu organs affected. This stasis is then examined in terms of the overall energetic features and the state of the Zang Fu, the substances, and the meridians. In terms of understanding the role of stasis of the fundamental substances, patients with cancer tend to display the following:

    • Qi Stasis: Distending pain, a mass that seems to appear and disappear or change in size, easy frustration, and irritability or other emotional reactions. The tongue is a dusky color, and the pulse is wiry.
    • Blood Stasis: Sharp, stabbing pain and masses fixed in origin. The tongue has distended sublingual veins, and the pulse is choppy.
    • Phlegm: Soft masses, a subjective sensation of heaviness or sluggishness in the body, and expectoration of a copious amount of phlegm. The tongue has a greasy coating, and the pulse is slippery/wiry.

Each patient may have a different imbalance causing what outwardly looks like the same type of cancer. Each person is unique, so a TCM doctor attempts to identify the exact individual pattern of excess, deficiency, or blockage that led to the disease. The TCM doctor treats the imbalance. The prescribed treatment will vary from one patient to the next, depending on the specific imbalances. Many herbal medicines were developed to alleviate pain and prolong survival by strengthening the body's life forces and arresting tumor progression.

Traditional Chinese medicine can reduce the side effects of conventional cancer treatments (chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery)

Chemotherapy drugs will kill the rapidly dividing cancer cells and expel them from the patient’s body before they can damage most healthy cells. There are three types of normal cells: the cells that make up the interior lining of the intestinal tract, hair producing cells and the bone-marrow cells. These three normal cells are affected by the chemotherapy drugs, which causes the common side effects: nausea and vomiting, hair loss, and bone-marrow depression. Other side effects include dry flaky skin, blood clotting, fatigue, infections and depressed immune systems.

Radiation is another method used by conventional medicine to treat cancer. High energy beams (x-ray, gamma ray) are projected through the affected tissue. Since the cell death caused by radiation is not selective to cancer cells the whole radiated area is affected and the body responds to it with a strong inflammatory reaction. The main side effects of radiation are fatigue accompanied by agitation and insomnia.

Traditional Chinese medicine can help patients overcome cancer-related pain and fatigue as well as certain side effects of conventional cancer treatments. Here's a look at how traditional Chinese medicine might benefit people coping with cancer:

    1) Relief of cancer pain
    2) Easing post-chemotherapy fatigue
    3) Treating chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting
    4) Reducing radiation side effects (insomnia, anxiety, dry mouth)

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