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Spotlight on Cancer: Supporting Healing & Recovery with Ancient Medicine


Written by Dr. Sarah Anzola, DACM, L.Ac.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been used for thousands of years to prevent and treat illness. This ancient medicine prioritizes homeostasis and works actively to prevent any illness in the body. TCM and integrative medicine have been supporting cancer and related illnesses for thousands of years. This medicine is unique because it treats each individual holistically based on the type of cancer, body constitution, medical history, and symptoms. No two people are created equal and neither are their treatments, making each treatment ‘one-of-a-kind.’ When it comes to cancer, there are many different types of cancer diagnosis, but according to TCM they all have similar patterns in the root cause of the disease. The three main imbalances that must exist for cancer to develop are Qi deficiency, Stagnation, and Toxins.

The first imbalance, Qi deficiency, happens when the body is weak. This can be energetically weak, physically weak, weak digestion, decreased immune system, among other weak constitutional developments. When the body is weaker, it is not able to efficiently clear out abnormal cells due to being overtaxed from stress, fatigue, toxins, and other factors.

The second imbalance, Stagnation, can be a build up of anything that is not moving or flowing properly in the body. This can be a stagnation of Qi, blood, or phlegm. It is important to maintain good blood and lymphatic circulation through the body for maintenance of healthy body tissue. When Qi, blood, or phlegm are not flowing this leads to backup within the cells causing disharmony.

The third imbalance, Toxins, can be an accumulation of internal or external toxin build up and exposure. Too many toxins can burden our liver and and kidneys, not allowing for proper removal. Toxins can also affect the body on a cellular level. Chemicals such as phthalates, parabens, BPS, dioxins, and polybrominated biphenyl ethers have been linked to a host of reproductive, immune, and neurological disorders. Often these are known as ‘endocrine disruptors’ because they affect the body’s hormones by mimicking or blocking them. These chemicals are also known as xenoestrogens and connected to reproductive cancers.

As a preventative for cancer we recommend prioritizing focus on your health through measures that improve Qi, move Stagnation, and clear heat and Toxicity. We can support these with treatments such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, therapeutic massage, and nutritional guidance. We suggest being mindful to not overwork, over-eat, and rest when possible. With our efforts we can work to support patients during their cancer treatments including before and after surgery, during chemotherapy and radiation, and afterwords to improve their quality of life and rebuild their strength and balance.

Majority of our cancer patients have been recommended by their oncologists to integrate acupuncture treatments into their cancer care in order to ease symptoms from chemotherapy and radiation cancer treatments. TCM is not a replacement for cancer treatment, but at best an integrative medicine approach to healing and recovering. As an integrative medicine clinic we provide supportive care for patients through their cancer treatments including before and after surgery, during chemotherapy and radiation to decrease side effects, and after cancer treatments to help rebuild strength and prevent reoccurrence. Check out our website or give us a call for more information on cancer supportive care.

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