Cancer is one of the leading worries in America today.  What most people don’t know is that Chinese medicine can help.  It can help eliminate the disease, improve immunity and reduce the side effects of western medicine treatments.  This will be the start of another series of posts and I will update this page as the topics are posted.  The topics include:


Cancer & Traditional Chinese Medicine

 What is Immunity?

To put it simply, immunity is the body’s defensive Qi.  It is generated by the Kidneys, distributed by the Lung, and supported by the Spleen.



Cancer can arise for many reasons, including internal pathogens (wind, heat, cold, damp, dry), stress and emotional instability, a diet that impairs the Spleen and Stomach, or overwork and overthinking.  Genetics also play a role, especially with breast, liver and esophageal cancer.  In Canada, the most common cancer is Lung,  though breast cancer rates are also very high for women.  In Asian countries, they have a much higher incidence of stomach and liver cancers.



Cancer is most often due to Qi stagnation with Blood stasis, phlegm-damp stagnation, a disharmony of the zang-fu with deficient healthy Qi (lowered immunity), or since it is so strong and virulent, it is also due to toxic invasion with deficient healthy Qi.

Cancer is a Yin toxin, which suggests that it tends to linger and be deeper in the body, affecting the Blood and Body Fluids.  It is also an excess evil, which suggests it will cause whole body symptoms and is more likely to have shape (swelling, hardness, masses).  The virulent and toxic nature of this disease consumes healthy Qi and easily spreads throughout the whole body, often causing disorders in Qi and Blood as well as Phlegm accumulation.


Treatment Principles

  1. Strengthen Healthy Qi, Eliminate Evils: this will improve immunity and strengthen the body’s anti-pathogenic factors.  Patients taking Radiation or Chemotherapy should be strengthening their healthy Qi.
    1. During the early stage, when healthy Qi is stronger and the evils are weaker, the focus of the treatment should be to purge evils since the body is stronger and can handle such treatment.
    2. During the middle stages, when healthy Qi becomes weak and evil pathogens go deep, the focus of the treatment should be to purge the evils and tonify healthy Qi.
    3. During the late stages, when there is healthy Qi deficiency and the evils predominate, the focus of the treatment should be to tonify healthy Qi.
  2. Regulate Yin & Yang: Chemotherapy tends to damage Yang Qi, while Radiation tends to damage Yin Qi.
  3. Regulate Internal Organs: Blood & Essence deficiency often affects the Liver and Kidney most.  Yin deficiency affects the Lungs, Stomach and Kidney most.  In general, cancer affects the Kidney and Spleen most.  Many cancer patients have difficulty eating, therefore tonifying the Spleen and Kidney is very important.
  4. Regulate Qi and Blood: also tonify and move Qi and Blood.
  5. Treat Based on Holism: take into consideration the age of the patient, sex, body condition, personal habits, geographic location (hot vs. cold climate), season (type of weather influences types of herbs), etc.


Main Treatment Methods

Nourish Original Yin & Yang, Tonify Healthy Qi: generally with cancer there is a deficiency of healthy Qi with a  concurrent excess of evil Qi, and Stomach Qi is especially important in fighting evil Qi.

Activate Liver Qi: this helps to break stagnation of Qi.

Activate Blood: anti-cancer herbs tend to consume Qi, so take care when prescribing.  Blood activating herbs can improve the function of other herbs’ anti-cancer functions, regulate the immune system, regulate the nervous and endocrine systems, reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, kill the cancer cells directly, and reduce coagulation of platelets and cancer cells (softening hardness).  Different ‘Activating Blood’ herbs are used according to different locations.

Clear Heat Toxin: heat toxins are very common in cancer patients, especially in the middle and late stages when they show symptoms such as fever, pain, swelling, dry mouth, constipation, yellow tongue coating and a fast pulse.  These herbs can prohibit  cells proliferation directly, regulate immune system function, fight infection and eliminate toxins, regulate the endocrine system and prevent cell mutation.

Other treatment methods include: softening masses and dismissing hardness, eliminating phlegm and dampness, using toxic herbs to treat the toxic cancer, and the fixing and holding method.



Certain conditions increase the risk, these include chronic atrophic gastric infections, intestinal polyps, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatocirrhosis, human papillomavirus infection (HPV) and fibroadenomas in the breast.  It is important to address these conditions and help protect the body’s healthy Qi.



If you have any questions, please contact us!



Caroline Prodoehl, D. Ac.




Zhu, Anni Yawen (2011).  Integrated Treatments: Internal Medicine Course. TorontoSchoolof Traditional Chinese Medicine. Toronto,Ontario.