A returning patient called me yesterday. She was a breast cancer survivor when I saw her as a student intern in Chinese medical school. If I had been more confident at the time, I would have suggested she be diligent in preventing a recurrence of breast cancer, and explained how she might attempt that with Chinese medicine.
Even if I had, however, she might not have followed my advice, because Chinese medicine’s credibility has yet to catch up with its sophistication, efficacy, and research.
It’s well known that acupuncture can help with palliative strategies in cancer- for pain relief, itching relief, and nausea. The topic examined less often is: can Chinese medicine fight cancer directly? Many acupuncture teachers and practitioners warn us not to claim that it can – they suggest there’s some law against us treating cancer, and you can see how reactive conservative doctors might be to the idea. They are accustomed to having control of the treatment of all cancer, regardless of whether they can help individual patients, or how much damage their therapies cause. Still, there is research and a clinical track record that suggests Chinese medicine can do more than just reduce discomforts.
I can’t resolve all by myself in this short space the political issues and ethical issues of alternative medical treatment. But, I suggest that if a patient who refuses conventional treatment, then their alternative practitioners should find out everything they can and do all they can to help the patient recover, or at least become more comfortable.
Even in my small alternative medicine library, I have 2 books on Chinese herbs for cancer, and a third that summarizes the research on natural compounds used in cancer therapy. On PubMed, I found even more scientific references about herbs and breast cancer specifically. It’s not the case that there isn’t research on this topic. Instead, as with much Chinese medicine research, the information is either unknown, or unused by Western physicians. What follows is a short summary of the scientific information I found (in less than an hour) on alternative medicine and breast cancer. At the end, I’ve provided some herbal formulas for practitioners.
Human Studies on Natural Compounds for Cancer Therapy:
John Boik, MacOM, LAc has contributed a weighty work called Natural Compounds in Cancer Therapy (Oregon Medical Press, 2001). It not only reviews hundreds of scientific references, but also explains many specific cancer disease processes. The following human studies are drawn from that book, but their specific references are also included.
Scientific research is done either in vitro (test tube), in animals, or in humans. Knowing that any non-human research is easily discounted by skeptics, I’ve chosen only the human studies. However, the other studies are also interesting and helpful, so if you want more, get Boik’s book. All of the following are specific for breast cancer. dog dewormer cancer