Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) is a routine option for oncology patients in China.
As well as chemotherapy, surgery, radiation and so on, cancer patients will take the Chinese herbal medicine formulas prescribed by their Oncologists. These formulas are given to assist their treatments and to manage the side-effects of treatments, such as nausea, fatigue, diarrhoea, insomnia and urticaria (hives or rashes).
There have been many research studies into the efficacy of CHM in supporting the treatment of cancer patients, and the results indicate that Jia Wei Xiao Yao San (加味逍遥散) is one of, if not the most prescribed formula in mainland China and Taiwan for breast cancer patients. This formula was developed during the Ming dynasty China and consists of 10 herbs. Its main actions are to help clear heat and reduce inflammation, protect the liver and spleen, and to nourish the qi and blood. The top 10 list of Chinese herbal formulas used for breast cancer patients shows the most frequently prescribed ones, and overall, their main focus is to support the body and reduce side effects. But what is so interesting about this list is that each formula supports a different body constitution, and targets individual conditions and reactions to treatment. Each one can be further modified to suit individual women and their particular stages of recovery.
Here at The Health Clinic, we have been working with a client who has started chemotherapy after her recent breast cancer diagnosis. We prescribed Jia Wei Xiao Yao San for her and in the weeks following her chemo sessions, she has noticed improved sleep patterns and reduced hot flushes at night. While Jia Wei Xiao Yao San is number one on the top 10 list, as Chinese herbalists we work closely with all of our clients, their particular conditions and issues, during and after their cancer treatment sessions.
Acupuncture is another great option we recommend to assist clients during their cancer treatments. Acupuncture has also been shown to significantly improve physical and mental fatigue, decrease anxiety and depression and increase quality of life in breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. And research indicates that acupuncture has far reaching effects on immune system function, so it is not a stretch to suggest that acupuncture can benefit immune system function in chemotherapy patients as well, a benefit that would greatly aid in their ability to avoid contracting other illnesses during their treatment for cancer.