An Integrative Approach to Cancer Treatment | Ondol Oriental Medicine Clinic

An Integrative Approach to Cancer Treatment

East-Asian Medicine and Western Medicine can work together

How acupuncture and herbal medicine can help

Coping with cancer can be a challenging and overwhelming experience. The medical treatment often begins before the initial emotional reactions have started to be processed. Unfortunately, the side-effects can add to the burden. These side-effects can take their toll on the body, as do the symptoms that accompany the diagnosis. Finding the proper support at this time can take some of the distress away.

Much research has been done and continues to be done to evaluate integrative therapies for treating and managing an extensive range of cancers. Studies show that acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help control and improve side effects from chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery and manage other symptoms.

Acupuncture

How does acupuncture work?

According to East Asian medicine, acupuncture points are located in specific areas along channels or meridians. Qi, the body’s vital energy, flows in this network of channels that connect different parts of the body and organs into a unified energetic system. Pain and symptoms of the disease can arise when the flow of Qi and Blood stagnates. Acupuncture treatments help to influence and promote the flow of Qi and Blood to balance the body towards a healthier system and therefore relieve symptoms. Acupuncture also stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (also known as the ‘rest-and-digest system’) to dial down stress and anxiety and encourage relaxation. 

How can acupuncture help cancer patients?

East Asian medicine utilises the principle of homeostasis and balance to nudge the body’s repair mechanisms towards a healthier condition. Studies have shown the benefit of acupuncture for the treatment of many cancer signs and symptoms.

According to research from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, acupuncture can help the cancer patient to:

  • better handle side effects from chemotherapy and radiation
  • minimise anxiety, depression, and stress
  • prevent and treat lymphedema
  • control fatigue, neuropathy, dry mouth, hot flashes, and other symptoms
  • reduce pain and muscle tension
  • control chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting

Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine 

How do Chinese herbs work?

Chinese Herbal medicine has been prescribed for over 2000 years. It can work well in conjunction with acupuncture to treat various diseases and imbalances, including cancer. Herbs support the body’s physiology, help to unblock meridians, and restore organ function. A complex pulse and tongue diagnosis determine the patient’s unique health condition to alleviate their signs and symptoms and strengthen their reserves. 

The medical practitioner then tailors a specific treatment and herbal formula according to the imbalance pattern of the patient.

How can Chinese herbs help cancer patients?

Approximately 400 Oriental herbs show varying degrees of therapeutic effects on several cancers. 

Chinese herbal medicine can reduce the side effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, alleviate insomnia, depression, and fatigue, and significantly improve the quality of life  (Wei Lui et al., 2019). According to the research, the mechanisms may relate to the inhibition of cancer growth, reduction of metastasis and invasion, promotion of cancer cell apoptosis (death), and enhancement of immunity. Clinical experiences proved that these herbs and their bioactive compounds were effective against many cancers, improving patients’ quality of life. These promising results could lead the way to integrate Chinese herbal medicine into an acknowledged part of holistic cancer treatment.

Cancer is a complex disease that needs a multifocal approach to help the person optimally. 

At Ondol Clinic, we are here to assist you and be part of your support. So please reach out to discuss a plan for you or make an appointment with our practitioners. 

References

www.mskcc.org. (n.d.). Acupuncture | Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. [online] Available at: http://mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/therapies/acupuncture [Accessed 12 Oct. 2021].

Liu, W., Yang, B., Yang, L., Kaur, J., Jessop, C., Fadhil, R., Good, D., Ni, G., Liu, X., Mosaiab, T., Yi, Z. and Wei, M.Q. (2019). Therapeutic Effects of Ten Commonly Used Chinese Herbs and Their Bioactive Compounds on Cancers. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2019, pp.1–10.

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