Our body is made up of billions of microscopic cells, which are similar to the miniature pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle. These wonderful little workers are forever busy building and repairing the tissues and the organs of our body. Throughout our lives, they are constantly being replaced. Cancer occurs when a small number of these cells mutate and gradually invade nearby parts of the body. Like rotting fruit, unless all these alien cells are annihilated they will gradually spread and destroy everything in their path.
Cancer didn't emerge as a major disease until the 1950s. This period coincides with the growing use of radiation, chemicals and toxins. This toxicity has often been named as a main causal factor for the disease.
However, as early as the 1930s, the German scientist and Nobel Prize winner Dr Otto Warburg discovered a connection between the incidence of cancer and the increased use of saturated fats in the diet. According to Dr Warburg, the fatty acids modified cell structure and altered their ability to transform oxygen in the blood into usable energy supply (ATP). This theory was confirmed recently by research on prostate cancer, which established that specific categories of fats in the diet, especially saturated and animal fats, posed a greater risk for cancer. In contrast, fish fats were shown to have a protective effect on individual cells.
In response to the rising incidence of cancer, modern medicine has invented some powerful weapons in the form of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Unfortunately, as forms of treatment, they are similar to injecting powerful poisons into the body to kill the unwelcome visitors. This can cause some very unpleasant side effects as healthy cells are often obliterated in the process.
In Chinese medicine, herbs and foods are classified according to their energetic properties. They can be warm or cold, dry or damp, supplementing or clearing. Medical herbs and foods are also identified according to their effects on certain organs.
In the case of cancer treatment, patients undergoing chemotherapy have unique nutritional needs. A proper diet can manage the side effects of the treatment and increase its efficacy. In this instance, the aim is to increase their energy and strengthen their immunity.
In Traditional Chinese medical theory radioactive energy causes toxic heat on the body and dries body fluids. For treating heat symptoms such as mouth dryness, itchiness, mouth sores and constipation, one is advised to increase consumption of cooling and fluid-generating foods such as spinach, celery, mushroom, eggplants, cucumber, watermelons and pears.
Another effect of chemotherapy is the depletion of red and white blood cells which make the body more susceptible to illnesses, fatigue, palpitation, nausea, insomnia, numbness, and hair loss.
Adding ginseng, Chinese wolfberry, Chinese date and red cherries will help restore these depleted immune-boosting agents.
Since the body is already suffering from excess heat from the radiation it is important to reduce or eliminate spicy and fried foods, and increase the intake of fresh vegetables, fruits and grains or fibre to boost the appetite and stimulate the bowel function. Finally, Chinese medicine recommends eliminating white sugar and coffee due to their negative effects on the pancreas, liver and the adrenal glands.
When radiation therapy is unable to produce the desired outcome, the malignant tumours have to be surgically removed. Acupuncture is often used post surgery as a pain control tool to reduce narcotic use and minimise the resulting side effects of behavioural changes, confusion and constipation. It can also be helpful in shortening the resolution of hematoma and tissue swellings after surgery.
Even in the terminal stages of cancer, Chinese herbal medicine can improve the quality of life of the patient when their body becomes too weak for powerful medications.
Qi Gong as Medicine
Another form of Traditional Chinese Medicine is the practice of Qi Qong exercises. The slow, graceful movements, which are similar to Tai Qi, stimulate the circulation of Qi (energy) throughout the meridians of the body. In many parks in China, it is common to see this 3000 year old gentle form of exercise being practised by older people well into their ninth decade.
Students and patients are taught to focus their energy to a point called the Dan Tian located just below the navel. Once a feeling of heat has been generated in that area, the energy flow is directed to the specific organs which are being treated. In medical Qi Qong, specific exercises can be designed for each individual cancer patient according to their needs.
These movements are also very beneficial to unblock toxic emotional patterns, which are affecting the patient's immunity. Once these emotional blockages are released, a sense of peace and serenity will finally be reached.
Olivier Lejus MHSc, BHSc is a registered acupuncturist practising in Sydney. www.olejusacupuncture.com
Olivier Lejus BHSc.MHSc. is a registered acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist practising in Sydney. A former casual university lecturer and tutor in Oriental medicine with over 15 years experience in clinical practice, Olivier specialises in Japanese- style acupuncture for the treatment of male and female infertility, migraine, pain, and insomnia.www.olejusacupuncture.com