Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Cancer. A Proven Alternative Medicine

Drawings of tumors have been found on turtle shells and "oracle bones" dating from the eleventh century B.C. Medical texts dating from 200 B.C. have detailed descriptions of tumors and their causes. Cancer is well known and well documented in Chinese medical literature. Yet there is no word for cancer in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

This is because Chinese medicine has always regarded cancer as several different diseases rather than a single disease. Ironically, modern physicians are beginning to recognize this as well. 


Perhaps in our search for "The Cure", we can find a measure of help in the vast experience of Chinese medicine.

Chinese holistic herbal medicine for cancer is based on the principle of Fu Zheng Gu Ben.


"Fu Zheng" means strengthening what is correct. "Gu Ben" means regeneration and repair.

Treating cancer with Chinese herbs requires diagnosing according to the four examinations.

The aim of treatment is to harmonize the patient as well as to attack cancer.


Chinese Herbal Holistic Medicine for Cancer: What's In An Anti-Cancer Formula


1- Herbs to Reduce Stagnation.
The accumulation (tumor) is attacked with strong blood breaking and anti-cancer herbs. Herbs will differ according to the location of the cancer. Because many patients receive chemotherapy, and because toxicity may be a disease factor, anti-toxic herbs are often added.


2 - Herbs to Strengthen the Immune System and balance the body.
Reduce excess and supplement deficiencies. Most important is the body's immune energy (wei qi) which must be heightened to help subdue the cancering process. One or more herbs are also included to strengthen digestion and absorbtion of the cancer medicine.

3 - Herbs to Eliminate the Root Causes of the Cancer
to prevent recurrence. We must seek to understand what is the cause, or the causes

Some Chinese herbs commonly used to treat cancer.



Vitalize Blood and/or Qi Herbs

Anti-Cancer Herbs

Strengthening Herbs

Other Herbs

Chih Ko

Rei Shi
and various mushrooms

Huang Qi

Yi Yi Ren

E Zhu
Curcuma Zedoaria

Lu Feng Fang
Hornet Nest

Xi Yang Shen
American Ginseng


Tao Ren
Persicae Semen

Long Kui

Shu Di Huang
Chinese Foxglove Root

Bai Mao Gen

Hong Hua
Carthami Tinctori

Ban Zhi Lian

Gan Cao
Chinese Licorice Root

Mu Li - Oyster Shell
and other shells

San Leng
Sparganii Rhizoma

Dong Ling Cao
Rabdosime Rubescentis

Dang Gui

Pu Gong Yin

Wu Ling Shi
Trogopterori Pteromi

Bai Hua She She Cao

Bie Jia
Turtle shell

Ji Xue Teng



Some Common Anti-Cancer Base Formulas


Breast cancer herbs:

oldenlandia (20 %), taraxacum (20 %), scutellaria (20 %), aurantium (20 %), curcuma (20 %)

Stomach cancer herbs:

oldenlandia (40 %) and imperata (30 %) or use scutellaria (15%) and imperata (15%)

Esophageal cancer herbs:

oldenlandia (25 %), scutellaria (25 %), imperata (25 %), cotton root (25 %)

Colon cancer herbs:

oldenlandia (60 %), scutellaria (15 %), solanum (60 %), sanguisorba (30 %), viola (15 %)

Ovarian cancer herbs:

oldenlandia (20 %), scutellaria (30 %), solanum (30 %), turtle shell (20 %)

Lung cancer herbs:

scutellaria (50 %), taraxacum (12.5 %), ophiopogonis (12.5 %), oldenlandia (25 %)

Liver cancer herbs:

oldenlandia (30%), scutellaria (30%), phragmites (10%), peonae alba (30%)


Help with Chinese Cancer Herbs and Anti-Cancer Medicine


To find a knowledgable Chinese herbologist, visit a site such as, look under your state and zip code and find acupuncturists near you. Call the acupuncturists and ask about their experience using Chinese herbs. Some acupuncturists were previously, chiropractors, homeopaths, natureopaths, and MDs, and have little experience with Chinese herbal medicine. Find one with an interest in Chinese herbs. Ask if they have a Chinese herbal pharmacy.


Some TCM Cancer Research:


New Lung Cancer Guidelines Point to Benefits of Acupuncture
By: Sam Gaines

Acupuncture is now officially recommended for lung cancer patients experiencing fatigue, dyspnea, chemotherapy-induced neuropathy, or to soothe symptoms of pain or nausea and vomiting.

Evidence-based guidelines published by the
American College of Chest Physicians in September recommend acupuncture for lung cancer patients experiencing fatigue, dyspnea, chemotherapy-induced neuropathy, or to soothe symptoms of pain or nausea and vomiting. Massage therapy is recommended for patients experiencing anxiety or pain.

The new edition of these standard guidelines represent the first time complementary and integrative medicine has been addressed in the prevention and treatment of lung cancer. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the
United States, causing more fatalities than the next four most common types of cancer combined.

The new guidelines were developed and reviewed by 100 multidisciplinary panel members and have been endorsed by the American Association for Bronchology, American Association for Thoracic Surgery, American College of Surgeons Oncology Group, American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, Asian Pacific Society of Respirology, Oncology Nurses Society, Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and the World Association of Bronchology.

Source: Chest, September 2007


Acupuncture Eases Side Effects of Head, Neck Cancer Treatments
By: Diane Joswick, L.Ac., MSOM

Acupuncture provides significant reductions in pain, dry mouth and shoulder dysfunction for patients after head or neck cancer surgery, according to a clinical study released at the 2008 meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology this month.

Neck dissection, or removal of the lymph nodes and surrounding tissue, is common in treating head and neck cancers. Common side effects of this procedure include pain and shoulder dysfunction. Postoperative radiation is also frequently administered, leading to dry mouth.

Seventy patients took part in a random study by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) researchers, in
New York, at least three months after they underwent cancer surgery and radiation treatment.

The participating patients were randomized to receive weekly acupuncture sessions for four weeks or “customary care”, which includes physical therapy exercises and the use of anti-inflammatory drugs.

Almost 40 percent of participants receiving acupuncture experienced improvements in both pain and mobility, compared with just 7 percent in the standard-care group.

There was also a notable decrease in dry mouth. "Five people in the acupuncture group had improvements as opposed to none in the usual-care arm," study author Dr. David Pfister, chief of the head and neck medical oncology service at the
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

"Although further studies are needed, this does support the potential role of acupuncture," Pfister said.

Source: American Society for Clinical Oncology, June 2008



Anticancer effects of Chinese herbal medicine, science or myth?

Wen-jing Ruan,1 Mao-de Lai,†‡1 and Jian-guang Zhou2 1Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310006, China 2Department of Dermatology, the Second Affiliated Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310009, China

J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. 2006 December; 7(12): 1006–1014.

Published online 2006 November 17. doi: 10.1631/jzus.2006.B1006.

Currently there is considerable interest among oncologists to find anticancer drugs in Chinese herbal medicine (CHM). In the past, clinical data showed that some herbs possessed anticancer properties, but western scientists have doubted the scientific validity of CHM due to the lack of scientific evidence from their perspective. Recently there have been encouraging results, from a western perspective, in the cancer research field regarding the anticancer effects of CHM. Experiments showed that CHM played its anticancer role by inducing apoptosis and differentiation, enhancing the immune system, inhibiting angiogenesis, reversing multidrug resistance (MDR), etc. Clinical trials demonstrated that CHM could improve survival, increase tumor response, improve quality of life, or reduce chemotherapy toxicity, although much remained to be determined regarding the objective effects of CHM in human in the context of clinical trials. Interestingly, both laboratory experiments and clinical trials have demonstrated that when combined with chemotherapy, CHM could raise the efficacy level and lower toxic reactions. These facts raised the feasibility of the combination of herbal medicines and chemotherapy, although much remained to be investigated in this area.



American Ginseng shows potential to reduce cancer-related fatigue
Mayo Clinic

The North Central Cancer Treatment Group , researchers at the Mayo Clinic., are suggesting that American ginseng (XI YANG SHEN) lessens fatigue and improves vitality in cancer patients.

Their pilot study to evaluate American ginseng as a therapy for cancer-related fatigue, were presented June 3rd, 2007 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Cancer patients often experience extreme fatigue which is unrelieved by sleep and unrelated to activity.   “Ginseng may offer us a much-needed treatment to improve our patients’ quality of life, and we look forward to further evaluation,” said Debra Barton, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic cancer researcher and the study’s primary investigator. “Cancer-related fatigue is one of the most profound and distressing issues patients face,”

American ginseng contains naturally occuring adaptogens - substance known to help the body overcome environmental stress. Cancer patients face enourmous stress, as they endure mental stress as well as stress from both the disease and the treatment.

In a randomized, placebo-controlled trial, investigators enrolled 282 patients, averaging 71 patients in each of four groups, completing eight weeks of treatment. Treatment consisted of placebo, and three different daily doses of Wisconsin ginseng - 750, 1,000 and 2,000 milligrams.
Of the four groups, the two receiving the placebo and the lowest dose of ginseng, reported very little improvement in fatigue or physical or psychological well-being. The patients receiving the larger doses showed improvements in overall energy and vitality levels. They also reported an improvement in overall mental, physical, spiritual and emotional well-being.

Dr. Barton’s research team hopes to open a new clinical trial in 2008 looking at a specific dose of Wisconsin ginseng versus placebo
and trying to better refine the results, in hopes of a confirming a new treatment option for cancer-related fatigue.


Acupuncture for Malignant Pain Problems. J. Filshie, D. Redman (Dept. of Anesthetics, Royal Marsden Hospital, London, England). International Medical Acupuncture Conference, London, England, May 4-8, 1986.

The effect of acupuncture was assessed in 183 patients attending the Pain Clinic in a cancer hospital. Early results were promising with 82% of patients obtaining benefit for hours or days. However, only 52% of patients obtained significant help and multiple treatments were often necessary. Acupuncture was most helpful for vascular problems, muscle spasm and dyaesthetic problems. Acupuncture was significantly helpful for a number of patients with malignant pain problems.


Electroacupuncture Treatment Method for Arm Oedema, Following Surgery for Breast Cancer. C. Moldovan, et al. (Institute of Oncology, Bucharest, Romania). International Medical Acupuncture Conference, London, England, May 4-8, 1986

Upper limb oedema (bloating from retention of water) occurs following surgery for breast cancer in approximately 8-30% of the cases. Existing means have relatively limited efficiency. This study presents a treatment method with electroacupuncture (acupuncture in which weak electrical currents are sent through the needles) on a group of 21 patients with upper limb oedema. Treatment response was based on objective criteria including clinical and thermoelectric measurements.

Complete recovery from oedemas was obtained in 33% of the cases, while partial recovery was seen in 43% of the cases. No response was seen in 24%.


Immunity Reflex State in Cancer patients Treated by Acupuncture Xia Yuqin, et al. Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion, Vol. 6, No. 2, April 1986, pp. 17-19. (In Chinese)

Fifty-nine cases with cancer (diagnosed through tissue biopsy) were observed in this group. It was found that the potentiality of cell immunity was lower than in normal persons. Radiation treatment had certain inhibitory functions on body immunity.

It was seen at the same time that acupuncture not only raised body immunity and regulated ERFC close to the normal level, but it could also control the falling of body immunity caused by radiation treatments. Curative Effects Seen in 44 Cases of Radioactive Rectitis


After Treating Cervical Cancer Zhang Zhaohua. Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion, Vol. 6, No. 3, June 1986, pp. 18-19. (In Chinese)

Forty-four cases of rectitis (inflammation, pain and bleeding of the rectum) caused by radiation therapy for cancer were treated by acupuncture. Results: 72.3% cases were cured, 9% cases were markedly effective, and 18% cases were improved. Through this patient group it was also observed that acupuncture produces the effects of analgesia and antipyresis, and the reduction of inflammation.


Cancer Chemotherapy with Oriental Medicine (II) Clinical Experiments of Oriental Medicine with Anti-tumor Crude Drugs. A. Sato International Journal of Oriental Medicine 1991;1:34-43

Chinese herbs served to improve symptoms of chemotherapy and prolong life. Characteristics include reduction of side effects caused by chemotherapeutic drugs and radiation therapy (i.e., increases in leukocytes, erythrocytes and thrombocytes), improvement of digestive functions (i.e. improvement of hepatic function) improvement of renal function, reduction of pain, enhancement of immunofunctions, and especially, decreased pain in the terminal stage.


Treatment of Postoperative Advanced Gastric Cancer With Chemotherapy and Anticancer Herbs. Guan-ting Wang, Jia-yu Xu, Ai-mei Zhang, and Xian-yi Wu. International Journal of Oriental Medicine. 1992;4:202-205

Treatment of advanced gastric cancer with combined chemotherapy and anticancer herbs which "support the righteous Qi" (righteous Qi is often translated to Immune System in Western medicine) resulted in a 41.2% survival rate at 3 years and 30.4% at 5 years. The curative effect was significantly higher than for those patients receiving only chemotherapy (26.1% and 15.0%, respectively).



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