Alternative Cancer Treatments, Cancer & Health
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How does Traditional Chinese Medicine help with cancer support?

As much as my mum also used Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as one of her cancer support protocols, I often found it hard to understand how TCM works! Which is also why I have never attempted to write about it because I felt I do not know enough to share accurately. I use TCM herbs myself for health maintenance and it helps with my energy and immunity (fall sick lesser) but still, all this talk about qi and meridians often confused me.

Hence, I am glad to finally be able to collaborate with the medical team at Oriental Remedies Group to have a more scientific explanation of how TCM can offer cancer support. May this read help to de-mystify TCM to make its benefits even more accessible to the general public!


Originally written for Oriental Remedies Group

We understand that a cancer diagnosis for you or your loved one can be a distressing and emotional time for you and your family. In this article, we will explain how Oriental Remedies Group can help improve the quality of life for the patient during this tumultuous period, by providing cancer support via Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and integrative therapies, along your route to recovery.

In recent years, there is a trend of cancer patients turning to TCM as a form of cancer support. In our clinic, we see an increasing number of patients who suffer from side effects of chemotherapy drugs or radiation therapy seeking complementary TCM therapies to reduce the side effects and alleviate painful symptoms.

Why TCM?

Many clinical studies have shown that TCM is effective in supporting treatments against breast, gastric and lung cancer. An example from one of the researches shows that when TCM is used as a complementary therapy combined with conventional chemotherapy, patients had a higher survival rate, better response to chemotherapy and experienced reduced side effects, such as vomiting and the decline of red blood cells.

TCM can improve the effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy in fighting cancer, guided by therapeutic principles of tonifying qi and producing blood, strengthening the spleen and stomach, nourishing the liver and kidney, and removing heat or inflammation from blood and toxic material from the body.

For advanced cancer patients, elderly patients, or those who are unsuitable for radiotherapy and chemotherapy, TCM plays a strong role in their journey to recovery. Research shows that TCM can stabilize tumor lesions, improve symptoms, enhance the quality of life, and prolong survival time. In view of preventive treatment before the onset of disease, TCM applied at an early stage can reduce the incidence of cancer.

In a research on esophageal cancer, it is found that the incidence rate of precancerous lesions in the TCM treatment group was lower than that of the control group.
– Chen ZF, Zhang JH. Meta research of TCM treatment for precancerous lesions of esophageal
cancer. Traditi Chin Med Res. 2014;12:20–21.

Perhaps, TCM has always been a puzzling subject to you with concepts and terms that are challenging to grasp. However, there is an increasing number of researches which can put names of Western medical conditions to a diagnosis made in TCM. In this article, we hope to demystify TCM and help you gain better knowledge and awareness so that you can make an informed decision regarding the use of TCM treatments in your recovery.

What exactly is cancer?

According to the Singapore Cancer Society, cancer is a term that refers to a group of diseases, all of which are characterized by abnormal cell growth. When the normal regulated process of cell division and growth malfunctions, the cells will grow and divide uncontrollably. As they continue to grow and multiply, they may amass to form tumours in our body.

Cancer cell dividing in a human body caused by carcinogens and genetics

There are two kinds of tumours; benign and malignant. The former is a tumour that continues to grow and divide in the same place, without spreading to other parts of the body. On the other hand, when the tumour spreads and invades into other parts of the body via metastasis, it is classified as a life-threatening tumour known as a malignant tumour.

What causes cancer from a TCM perspective?

1. Weak immunity

  • Qi (energy) has a defensive mechanism that protects the body, thus weakened Qi formed from poor digestive function results in weakened immunity
  • Coldness restricts flow of Qi and blood resulting in stagnation
  • Stress and emotions stagnate Qi flow in the body

2. Poor blood circulation

  • It can result from coldness accumulated in the body. This could be from the external environment or frequent ingestion of food of cold nature
  • Weak Qi is unable to encourage blood flow. Hence, many cancer patients tend to feel cold and have cold extremities.
  • Blood is thick and turbid which results in stagnation

3. Phlegm and Dampness accumulation

  • Weakened digestive function
  • Excessive intake of food of cold nature or oily/greasy food
  • Exposure to cold environment that weakens digestive function to form Qi and blood
  • Poor bowel movement results in accumulation of toxins

4. Exposure to dampness from the environment

  • Environmental toxins
  • Exposure of damp and cold environment

How does TCM support cancer recovery?

Patient receiving acupuncture treatment. Cancer patients often report better quality of life especially pain management with acupuncture.

The treatment of cancer is viewed holistically in TCM, with a systematic approach being taken to improve the condition of the patient. The physician customizes a plan specifically suited to the patient, based on the identified root cause(s).

To meet the growing demand of patients seeking TCM treatments during their conventional cancer treatments, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine has forged partnerships with foreign academic institutions in TCM research focusing on cancer as they look to transform TCM from an experience-based practice to an evidence-based treatment through innovation and differentiation. We look forward to more innovation and research to better support your recovery!

How we help cancer patients here at Oriental Remedies Group?

Here at Oriental Remedies Group, we aim to provide our patients with quality integrative healthcare to help empower every single one of you to #BeTheBestYouCanBe. Even when you are undergoing conventional cancer treatments, you can still work on improving your quality of life!

We use a combination of Traditional Chinese Medicine therapies and Integrative therapies to boost the immune system and strengthen and nourish the body. Some key effective therapies include:

  • Acupuncture
    • Acupuncture utilizes very fine needles placed at different parts of the body to help regulate, realign and improve the condition of the body and its organs.
    • Acupuncture treatments are focused on improving the patients’ quality of life.
    • Cancer patients report the below benefits:
      • Strengthened immune system
      • More energy and reduced lethargy
      • Reduced cancer treatment side effects
      • Reduced anxiety
  • Herbal Medication
    • Helps the body to recuperate, replenishes Qi, and nourishes the body so that it can fight the cancer cells
    • Some herbal medication are supported by research to help suppress the growth and spread of cancer in the body
How do different kinds of Chinese herbal medicine work together to strengthen the body? It is so complex that Physicians in Singapore typically undergo 5-8 years of studies to be qualified as practitioners.
  • Electro-Lymphatic Therapy
    • Electro-Lymphatic Therapy is carried out using an FDA-registered device that is effective for pain management and reducing inflammation
    • It improves the function of lymphatic system which is closely linked to ‘San Jiao’ in TCM
    • Cancer patients report the following benefits:
      • Strengthened immunity
      • Reduced pain, aches and inflammation
      • Reduce water retention and lymphedema (especially for cancer patients who have gone through lymph node removals)
      • Better mobility
  • Negative Ions Therapy
    • A medical device used in Japan hospitals that supply high density of negative ions to the body, achieving similar effects of having high level of antioxidants
    • Cancer patients report the following benefits:
      • Better energy levels
      • Reduced side effects from conventional treatments
      • Faster post-operation recovery
      • Better quality of sleep

Is TCM for every cancer patient?

Yes! TCM Physicians work alongside major hospitals in Singapore like Tan Tock Seng Hospital to provide healthcare to patients with all sorts of conditions as well, not just cancer.

However, it is important to seek professional consultation from certified Physicians as some patients may be allergic to certain herbs, or certain herbs may not be suitable for patients undergoing chemotherapy. It is important that patients get clarity from their primary care conventional oncologists on any contraindications so the supporting TCM Physicians will be able to prescribe the herbs more effectively.

Your healing is the most important

In Oriental Remedies Group, we have more than 10 certified bi-lingual TCM Physicians. Each of them has been trained in both Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) and China for a minimum of 5-8 years, in both Biomedical Science and TCM before being certified to practice in Singapore. Most of our Senior Physicians work with many cancer patients and are constantly upgrading their knowledge to serve you better.

By combining Traditional Chinese Medicine therapies and expertise with modern integrative therapies, we strive to provide the best care possible in your journey with us.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, we would like to help. Please contact us at +65 8142 2163 for a personalized consultation.

This article was written by Physician Leong Weizhen,
Chief Medical Officer of Oriental Remedies Group, with contribution from wellness blogger Eatprayflying, and Physiotherapist-to-be, Chloe Lee.

Disclaimer: 

The content on this page is for information and educational purposes only. Such medical information may relate to disease, injury, drugs and other treatments, medical devices and/or health products.  Medical information does not amount to advice, and if advice is needed an appropriate professional help should be sought. The disclaimer asserts that no warranties or representations are given in respect of the medical information, and that the website operator should not be held liable if a user suffers any injury or loss after relying upon the medical information.

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