In traditional #chinese #medicine, there is no specific concept of cancer, though there is of tumors. Many nutritious tonics and herbal medicines were created to minimize pain and prolong survival by boosting the body’s life forces and arresting tumor development. Chinese doctors believe the root causes of cancer are various, including toxins and other environmental factors, called “external causes,” along with “internal causes” such as emotional stress, bad eating habits, accumulated wastes from food, and damaged organs. Two main factors are stationary blood and an obstruction or accumulation of #chi, or qi (pronounced chee), the vital energy said to circulate along the meridians, or pathways, linking all parts of the body.
Sickness is an energy imbalance, a surplus or shortage of the body’s elemental energies. According to the ancient Chinese, chi, the life force, regulates the body’s workings as it journeys along the meridians, completing an energy cycle every twenty-four hours. A person is healthy when there is a balanced, sufficient flow of chi, which keeps the blood and body fluids circulating and fights disease. But if the circulation of chi is blocked for any reason or becomes excessive or deficient, pain and disease can result. The flow of chi may be disrupted by an imbalanced diet or lifestyle, overwork, stress, repressed or excessive emotions, or lack of exercise. Imbalances in yin and #yang-complementary forces in dynamic flux-also disturb the normal, smooth flow of chi.
The Chinese doctor makes a diagnosis in terms of yin and yang, chi, Blood, and organ imbalance. The term Blood refers to much more than the material substance. Blood is the process of nourishing the organism; it occurs in a mutually regulating relationship with chi and Moisture (body fluids). In forming a diagnosis, the doctor is guided by the Eight Principles, which are four sets of polar categories (yin and yang, cold and heat, deficiency and excess, and interior and exterior). The Eight Principles serve as the framework for the data gathered through physical examination, tongue and pulse diagnosis, and observation of symptoms. Once the doctor forms a cohesive picture of the pattern of disharmony, he or she can formulate a treatment plan to restore balance.
Herbs and foods in Chinese medical practice are viewed energetically, that is, in terms of their influence on the body’s energy field. Most Chinese healers advise patients undergoing herbal treatment to avoid all raw foods, because they are too “cold,” and white sugar, because it is too rich and overstimulates the pancreas and liver. Strong spices, thought to disperse energy from within to the surface of the body, should be avoided. Cancer patients are also advised to shun coffee, because it overtaxes the adrenals; cold dairy foods, because they are too congesting; and shellfish and citrus, because they are too “cold” and “moist.”
Almost all of the Chinese herbs utilized today to treat cancer and other immune-deficient disorders fall under three broad classifications. Tonic herbs increase the number and activity of immunologically active cells and proteins. Toxin-clearing herbs clear the blood of germs and of waste products from the devastation of tumors and germs. Blood activating herbs reduce the coagulation and inflammatory reactions associated with immune response. Herbal therapy in cancer treatment can improve appetite, reduce nausea and vomiting, and alleviate stress.