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Traditional Chinese Medicine for Cancer Prevention and Treatment

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The ultimate cause of the abnormal growth of cells (known as cancer) is complex and still unknown in western medicine. But according to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory and the analysis of clinical data, cancer can have both internal and external causes. Internal causes include emotional trauma. External causes can be attributed to any of six factors which include wind, cold, summer heat, dampness, dryness, and fire.

Other causative influences include viruses, bacteria, and chemical factors. The phenomenon of heat and fire is caused by the human body’s defense mechanism in conjunction with the changing climate of the seasons and specific geographical regions.

Internal and External Causes

Excessive levels of any of the seven emotions can disrupt the normal ‘qi’ (vital energy) and the blood. When we are chronically angry, the qi will move upward or increase. When we are happy, the qi moves slowly; when we are sad, it disappears. When we hesitate, our internal qi will stagnate; when we experience fear, it will go downward or decrease or congeal in a mass. When we are cold, the qi moves inwards or contracts; when we feel hot, it leaks; when we are exhausted, it is depleted.

Furthermore, qi stagnation can easily lead to blood stagnation. The term ‘blood’ refers to all the body cells that contain fluid. Quantitative changes can lead to qualitative changes, and vice versa. In the human body, ‘quantity’ represents the qi and ‘quality’ represents the blood. When the internal and external factors meet, a tumour will be formed.

For instance, a person can become more susceptible to breast cancer when they are experiencing emotional upheaval such as chronic depression, hesitation, and worry. Prolonged experience of these states will block the qi in the channels and collaterals.

On the other hand, osteoma (a new piece of bone usually growing on another piece of bone) can be triggered by the injury of the kidney qi through excessive desires or fear. The “stagnated fire” from the kidneys burns up the nutrition in the bones, thus forming a tumour which is both as hard as rock, and mobile.


Beyond internal and external causes, an irregular lifestyle, improper food habits, excessive drinking, lack of nutrition, and/or abnormal sexual lifestyle can also make a person more susceptible to abnormal cell growth. For example, an overly-excessive sex life can burn out kidney yin, which will in turn cause an increase the ‘liver fire’. Alternately, a complete lack of normal sexual activity can increase susceptibility to prostate and ovarian cancer.

Cancer Prevention Strategies

Below are some suggestions to counter the carcinogenic factors that can lead to dangerous and malignant tumours:

1) Maintain emotional stability
2) Avoid pollution (air, noise, etc)
3) Get proper rest and exercise
4) Avoid excessive alcohol intake
5) Quit smoking
6) Prepare healthy foods properly

Special note on food preparation: Avoid smoked meat and fish. Meat and fish should not be over-cooked or burned since meat contains the tryptophan protein which, when burned, can become carcinogenic; thus barbecued and burned food can create toxins.

Cut down on animal fats and pickled vegetables. Food condiments, additives, and dyes all contain carcinogens.

Vegetables such as carrots, radish, Chinese cabbage, spinach, leek, tomato, bean sprouts, peas, potato, and asparagus all contain an enzyme that destroys nitrosamine and prevents tumour formation. Carrots and radishes contain lignin which increases phagocytosis (a major mechanism that removes pathogens and cell debris) by two to three times. Raw garlic intake is very beneficial. A high-fibre diet of organic vegetables and grains aids the bowels and helps to prevent cancer. Fruits and green tea also help to decrease the absorption of carcinogens into the bladder.

Boiled, stewed, and steamed food is highly recommended for cancer patients; dry and hard food is best avoided. As a general rule: any foods that contain a rich source of vitamins C and E can accelerate healthy cell division and prolong healthy cell life.

According to TCM theory, a good appetite is essential to good health. The entire digestive system, in conjuction with normal lung activity, creates vital qi. That’s why there is an old saying in TCM: “When there is stomach, the patient will survive; no stomach no survival.” Actually the word ‘stomach’ means ‘appetite’ because TCM is based on macro science.

Overall, Traditional Chinese Medicine theory states that we will be safe if we harmonize with nature. Fighting against nature, on the other hand, is inherently dangerous.

7) Balance the Entire Self

According to TCM theory, human beings basically come in six different types. Under the categories of ‘yin’ and ‘yang’, there are three yin types: lesser yin, medium yin (Jueyin), and greater yin; and three yang types: lesser yang, medium yang (Yangming), and greater yang. Yin people need  more physical activity in order to activate the yin. A yang person needs more calming activities – long distance walking is recommended (at least an hour a day, with easy steps and shoulders dropped).

According to ancient traditional medicine theories, including Traditional Chinese Medicine, different names for cancer include, but are not limited to: accumulation, stone, yin pimple, and yang pimple. Regardless of the name given to this aberration of the body, it is my view that, through the integration of TCM techniques and holistic methods, holistic results will be achieved. By treating the body as a whole (refusing to isolate the parts) the cancer cells aren’t allowed to proliferate in any one part, or system, of the body.

My Approach to Cancer Treatment

1. Appropriate Herbal TCM Formula
There does not exist one formula to treat all types of cancer. Instead the formula must be customized based on the person’s unique constitution and type of tumour. For instance, let’s say persons A and B both have a tumour. They both have swelling but only person B’s tumour is red in colour. We call person A’s tumour a yin tumour and person B’s tumour a yang tumour. Even though the tumour exists in the same location in both patients, we have to use two different formulas because yang tumours have a stronger defense mechanism than yin tumours. In TCM theory, we say person B has a more robust immune system and strong qi.

As some Chinese herbs can be poisonous, the dosage applied must be very accurate and small. As an example, the mineral ‘arsenolite’ has been used by TCM experts to treat leukemia, but a dose of arsenolite anywhere between 0.1 and 0.2 g can kill a person.
TCM theory states that, when using any medicine containing the element of stone or metal, we must stop once we hit the disease. According to research from Chinese scientists: when the cancer cells absorb the active ingredients in TCM medicine, they will die but the normal (healthy) cells will remain undamaged. This is a significant departure from chemotherapy which does not differentiate between healthy and unhealthy cells; all the cells are killed and the side effects are powerful and unpleasant.

2. Herbal Wrap – Using a mixture of herbal ingredients, this treatment strategy is also based on the yin and yang tumour theory, and takes into account which energy channel or body organ(s) are affected. Utilizing both an external herbal wrap and internal intake together will strengthen the therapeutic effect of this therapy.

3. Acupuncture  – In my practice, I use two types of needle manipulation technique, referring to two different types of tumour, yin tumour and yang tumour: for a yin tumour I use a ‘reinforcing’ technique; for a yang tumour, a ‘reducing’ technique. This style of acupuncture is effective only if the tumour has not gone deeper and can be accessed in a superficial area such as the skin surface.

4. Moxibustion  – Moxibustion, a TCM therapy using moxa made from dried mugwort (Artemisia argyi), is applicable in cases of yang deficiency or qi deficiency.

5. Ear Pellets or Herbal Seed – The pellets or seeds are massaged into the external surface of the ear at the acupuncture point related to the appropriate organ. This therapy can also enhance the therapeutic effect of other cancer treatments, with no side effects. This is due to the self-adjust mechanism of acupuncture, and is quite safe.

6. Qi Gong (Meditation) – Meditation is another highly effective tool. Ideally, the patient will train at least once a day with an expert who is proficient in Qi Gong.

7. Tui Na Massage – This type of massage utilizes a special herbal formula that can alleviate some of the pain suffered by cancer patients. It also provides another way to enhance the therapeutic effect of other treatments.

8. Diet – The TCM practitioner will collect information regarding the patient’s diet. As discussed, certain kinds of food and food preparation can create heat and toxins (inflammation) in the body. In modern medicine, scientists have already discovered that barbecued meat can create a chemical substance called ‘nitrosamine’, a carcinogen that can form cancer cells. Traditional Chinese Medicine describes this as burned food – which is to be avoided at all costs, especially by someone with a yang tumour.

9. Lifestyle – Certain emotional states can also increase the risk of cancer. According to TCM theory, unhappiness in marriage can create qi stagnation; and qi stagnation can easily lead to blood stagnation which TCM states is the fundamental cause of cancer. So, it is recommended that you hand in your notice if you find yourself in an unhappy or stressful environment, either at home or at work.

10. Emotion Therapy – Counselling, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, or even simply positive thinking can also enhance the therapeutic effect of any cancer treatment.

Self-Help Strategies

A) Walking: Drop your shoulders, relax, and walk slowly for one hour a day.
B) Garlic: The best garlic is the one with purple skin. Peel off the skin of three cloves of garlic, crack them, and swallow with water after each meal.
C) Positive Thinking: Finding a way to cultivate happiness every day will go a long way toward helping those diagnosed with cancer. Get out, talk to friends, make new friends, and have fun; depression is a destructive energy!
D) Rest: Rest is a good therapy, especially when feeling stressed or over-worked!


Article Tags: vitality, moxibustion, herbal seed, herbal wrap for cancer, tcm to treat cancer, tui na massage for cancer, qi gong to treat cancer, meditation for cancer, chinese medicine to treat cancer, acupuncture to treat cancer, emotion therapy for cancer