I thought I'd write a little bit about cancer because it touches the lives of so many of us. As an Acupuncturist and Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner, I witness the daily struggles that my patients with cancer face. As a wife and daughter, I understand a more personal side to supporting loved ones through this disease.
When I sit down with patients who have recently been diagnosed with cancer, the first question I'm asked is, "Can Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treat cancer?" The answer is yes AND no. I have found that many people seek out alternative treatments, trying to avoid the scarier prospects of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. However, it is so important to be informed and pick the most effective combination of therapies for you.
Think of your body as a garden, and cancer as a weed that invades and takes over. Conventional cancer treatments are focused on eliminating the weed by physically removing it (surgery), or killing it through radiation and/or chemical means. TCM focuses on strengthening the garden and nurturing the soil, so that it is inhospitable for weeds to grow or return. These different approaches complement each other well. Ideally, we want to eliminate the weeds without destroying the garden. In most cases, both conventional and alternative treatments are necessary to restore your health.
When I'm working with cancer patients, I pay close attention to ensuring that the liver, kidneys, immune and digestive systems are supported. These are the systems that are weakened by chemotherapy and radiation. If you can maintain your strength, you will be better equipped to deal with the nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite and other common side effects of these treatments. There's lots that can be done to help your body fight and heal.
Many herbs are safe to use while undergoing cancer treatment and can be combined with foods to replenish your body. Common foods such as ginger, turmeric, garlic, and green tea aid in reducing inflammation. You can also starve cancer cells by avoiding sugars, alcohol, eliminating processed meats, fatty foods, and reducing dairy products.
Hearing the words "you have cancer" is immensely stressful and, is usually the start of a long, hard road. Acupuncture is one of the tactics I recommend to help calm the mind, reduce anxiety, improve sleep, and keep stress in check.
One size does not fit all when it comes to TCM treatments and cancer. It is important to consult both with your oncologist, and a registered TCM Practitioner before taking herbs, or undergoing treatment. Reach out if you have any questions. Be well.