For over 3,500 years, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been helping people of all ages, backgrounds, and medical histories find internal and external peace, balance, comfort, and relief. Through an intricate network of carefully applied practices and routines including acupuncture, herbal blends, meditation, and slow-moving exercises like Tai Chi, TCM has proven to improve health, address discomforts, and effectively reduce the side effects of many medical treatments.
TCM for cancer patients is particularly helpful because it can ease some of the physical and emotional stresses that are directly caused by chemotherapy and other forms of cancer treatment.
What Is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
TCM is a unique ancient Eastern system of healing various physical, emotional, and mental ailments. It focuses on the whole person, rather than simply on the parts that are exhibiting disease. It emphasizes the concept that when one part of the body or mind is sick, the whole person is affected.
The mind and body are integrally unified and therefore function as one whole being, which means there’s an internal balance between them.
How Does TCM Help Manage Cancer Treatment Side Effects?
TCM alone has not been proven to cure cancer, although many TCM herbs are seen to attack cancer cells in lab and animal studies. However, TCM strengthens the body’s immune system and boosts the body’s energy levels, also known as Qi. This helps improve the body’s ability to fight off the disease naturally and in tandem with various types of biomedical treatment.
Furthermore, TCM helps alleviate certain side effects that are associated with chemotherapy and other types of cancer treatments so that the body can retain more strength for fighting off the disease. Cancer treatment side effects that can be improved with TCM include:
- Loss of appetite
- Pain and discomfort
- Numbness and tingling
- Hot flashes
- Infertility after cancer treatment
Every patient experiences and responds to treatment differently, so it’s important to create a specialized treatment plan that addresses each issue.
What Kind of Practices Are Used in TCM?
TCM employs a number of different practices that can be used to alleviate the side effects of cancer treatment. Although it’s often referred to as “alternative care”, TCM is best seen as a supplementary form of treatment that works alongside conventional cancer treatment methods.
Here are some practices that are commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for cancer patients:
- Herbal mixtures
- Diet and nutrition guidance
- Tai Chi and Qi Gong
What Are the Risks of TCM for Cancer Treatment Relief?
For the most part, TCM is a very safe form of side effect relief for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, immunotherapy, or hormone therapy. You should make sure your treatment is done by a practitioner trained to work specifically with cancer patients. They should then follow international safety guidelines for oncology acupuncture (acupuncture for cancer patients), and best practices for reducing the risk of herb-drug interactions. They should also know how to be careful with patients who have safety concerns such as lymphedema, low blood counts (higher risks of bleeding, infection, or fainting), compromised kidney or liver function, spinal fractures, or more.
At Oncology Acupuncture Toronto, our practice aims to provide physical and emotional support and relief for patients undergoing any form of cancer treatment through the power of acupuncture, nutrition, cupping, herbs, acupressure, and mindfulness meditation. For more