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Traditional Chinese Medicine as a Treatment for Cancer

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

Traditional Chinese Medicine as a Treatment for Cancer

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been practiced in Asia for more than 2000 years. TCM is a holistic approach to healthcare with the aim of treating the root cause of illnesses instead of only providing symptomatic relief.

Cancer is regarded as a disturbance in the body's "qi," which may cause abnormal cell growth. TCM seeks to balance energy flow, enhance the immune system, and support natural healing. A number of treatment modalities may be used to treat cancer, including herbal medicine, acupuncture, nutritional therapy, massage, and qigong.

What is Cancer?

Cancer is a disease characterized by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells in the body. Usually, the cells in our bodies divide and grow in a controlled way. Cancer cells, on the other hand, grow and divide uncontrollably. This causes a mass of tissue, called a tumor, to form.

Not all tumors are cancerous. Benign tumors don't spread to other areas of the body and generally don't cause death. But cancerous tumors, also called malignant tumors, can spread to nearby tissues, organs, and other parts of the body through the bloodstream or lymphatic system.

There are several different types of cancer, but common types include breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. The causes of cancer are complex and may include genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors like smoking, a poor diet, and a lack of exercise.

Herbal Medicine in TCM Cancer Treatment

A key element of TCM is herbal medicine, and several of the herbs used in TCM have been shown to have anti-cancer effects. Herbal remedies are used to restore equilibrium in the body and boost the immune system's ability to fight cancer.

Herbal Medicine in TCM Cancer Treatment


Herbs that are commonly used in TCM include:

  • Astragalus: This herb is known for its immune-boosting properties and is often used to support cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

  • Reishi: This mushroom is packed with anti-tumor properties and is often used to reduce inflammation and boost the immune system.

  • Curcumin: Curcumin is a compound in turmeric with cancer-fighting properties. It is also used to treat inflammation and strengthen the immune system.

  • Ginseng: There’s a reason why ginseng is a popular ingredient in energy drinks. It’s a great source of energy that can help cancer patients manage symptoms of fatigue.

Herbs that are commonly used in TCM

Acupuncture in TCM Cancer Treatment

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points on the body to stimulate and balance the flow of Qi, or vital energy. According to TCM, cancer is seen as a condition brought on by a Qi and blood imbalance that results in the growth of tumors and other symptoms.

TCM uses acupuncture to alleviate the negative side effects of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and other treatments for cancer as well as to enhance the general quality of life. Acupuncture may help regulate the immune system, reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and promote relaxation and well-being.

Research suggests that acupuncture may help manage some cancer-related symptoms, like nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and pain. But further studies need to be done to determine its effectiveness and safety as a cancer treatment.

Acupuncture shouldn’t be seen as a cure-all but as a supplementary therapy as part of a holistic treatment plan as determined by a healthcare provider. Before starting any new therapies, patients should speak with a medical professional.

Acupuncture in TCM Cancer Treatment

Evidence of the Effectiveness of TCM for Treating Cancer

As a holistic system of medicine, traditional Chinese medicine aims to treat the whole person, including the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of health. This can be especially beneficial for cancer patients, who often experience a range of physical and emotional symptoms as a result of their disease and treatment.

There is growing interest in using a combination of TCM and conventional cancer treatments to improve outcomes. Studies have shown that these treatments can improve quality of life and reduce side effects of cancer treatment, such as pain, nausea, and fatigue.

Several Chinese herbal remedies have been studied for their anti-cancer properties. In particular, research findings suggest that astragalus root may enhance the immune system's ability to fight cancer.

Chinese medicine also incorporates mind-body techniques such as meditation and qigong, which have been shown to have a positive impact on cancer patients' mental and physical well-being. One study found that breast cancer patients who practiced qigong had better quality of life and less fatigue than those who didn’t.

While more research is needed to fully understand its effectiveness in cancer treatment, these studies suggest that it may have a valuable role to play as a complementary therapy. As always, patients should consult with their healthcare provider before undergoing any new therapies.

Conclusion: Traditional Chinese Medicine as a Treatment for Cancer

It's important to note that TCM should not be used as a replacement for conventional cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. However, it can be used in conjunction with these treatments to help manage symptoms and potentially even enhance the effectiveness of treatment.

While there is some evidence to suggest that traditional Chinese medicine may be effective in treating certain types of cancer, more research is needed to fully understand its potential benefits and limitations. It's also important to work with a qualified natural health specialist who is familiar with TCM practices for treating cancer in order to provide safe and effective treatment tailored to your individual needs.

TCM offers a holistic approach to cancer treatment that can help support the body's natural healing abilities and improve the quality of life for cancer patients.

If you're interested in exploring traditional Chinese medicine as a treatment for cancer, reach out to our natural health specialist to discuss your options and guide you through the process.


This blog is intended to provide general information regarding health and related topics. The information and other materials offered in this blog, website, or any other linked materials are not meant to be used in place of professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should not be regarded as such. Please consult with a medical doctor or natural health specialist before starting a new medication, treatment, or natural supplement.


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