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Kuan-Chung Chou, LAc
Cancer and Traditional Chinese Medicine
. http://TrendCare.com

Cancer and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Now more information is available about the success of traditional Chinese medicine in treating cancer-related problems and minimizing the side effects of cancer therapy. Clinical trials are studying the effects of acupuncture on cancer and symptoms caused by cancer treatment, including weight loss, weakness, headaches, cough, chest pain, digestive problems, fever, anxiety, depression, night sweats, hot flashes, dry mouth, speech problems, and fluid retention in the arms or legs. Studies have shown that, for many patients, treatment with acupuncture either relieves symptoms or keeps them from getting worse.
A study conducted at the University of California (UCLA) School of Medicine, revealed significant reduction of nausea and vomiting in patients who were pre-treated with acupuncture. Currently, acupuncture is routinely administered before, after and in between chemotherapy treatment sessions for control of nausea and vomiting. Such treatments are relatively simple and easily executed in an outpatient setting. Acupuncture does not have side effects compared to standard anti-nausea medications. It also may help boost the immune system, reduce pain and consequently give patients a sense of well-being.
A similar study was carried out at the National Institutes of Health, where thirty-seven patients were given intense electro-acupuncture, and 33 other patients received a less intense form of acupuncture. Both groups also received anti-nausea medications. The last group of 34 patients only received anti-nausea medications. In a span of five days, the average number of sickness episodes in the intense acupuncture group was five, 10 in the group that received less intense acupuncture, and 15 in patients who only took conventional medications. This study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The researchers are now recommending that hospitals offer acupuncture to patients suffering from nausea and vomiting.
The effects of Chinese herbal medicine have also been tested in regard to patients who experience side effects of chemotherapy. Researchers from Hong Cong, China, and Englands University of Birmingham set up a study with 120 patients. Each patient had a trained herbalist assessing the patients intake of herbal medicine. Patients were divided into two groups where one group received Chinese herbal treatment and the other was given a placebo. The researchers found that nausea was experienced in 14.6 percent of patients receiving Chinese herbs, and in 35.7 percent of patients in the control group. The researchers suggest that the use of Chinese herbal medicine may “have a significant impact on control of nausea.”
The Shanghai Breast Cancer Study, which has followed 1,455 breast cancer patients in Shanghai since 1996. Xiao-Ou Shu, M.D., Ph.D. and colleagues evaluated breast cancer patients for ginseng use both before and after their diagnosis of breast cancer. All patients who used ginseng had received at least one type of conventional cancer therapy, i.e., surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy. At follow up, three to four years after diagnosis, they found significant improvements in both survival and quality of life measures (as reported by the patients) in patients who used ginseng.
Conventional cancer therapy provides hope to many patients, but it also carries debilitating side effects. Acupuncture can help patients improve their overall health, alleviate pain associated with cancer, and reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.
If you undergo cancer therapy, we suggest you talk to your physician about possible side effects. If you are looking for non-pharmacological therapies, a combination of acupuncture and herbs may be of interest to you.
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