Various Herbs for Cancer Treatment & Management

Ancient China although didn’t know exactly as much as we know now about cancer they certainly understood some signs and symptoms including progressions of some cancers. Treatments back then included herbs and even with the advancements in biomedicine today, herbs are still utilized in the treatment, prevention and to manage the side-effects of cancer.

Initially herbs were used solely on a pattern based prescription as they are normally including modern day practitioners. This means that herbs are given specifically to treat a disharmony pattern that is happening in your body on both a root and symptom level. This opposes the western strategy, used in both pharmacology and herbalism, where herbs are prescribed to treat specific conditions. For example this means that to a western herbalist who is seeing a patient for upset stomach, they give herbs that are known to treat nausea and stomach discomfort.  A Chinese herbalist will asses the same patient to find some type of imbalance or pathogen and use herbs that correct this issue. It is here we note that when the pattern is treated the symptoms or complaint could have been different, but the treatment have still been the same.

Today there has been a vast majority of research in labs and through empirical evidence. This has helped change the overall treatment plans and prescriptions of herbalists using Traditional Chinese Medicine. Now more patients are able to get even better results with the use of integrative herbalism. Patients can now receive a complete herbal prescription that addresses the pattern involved and some herbs added that are known to specifically treat these conditions. The patient with the upset stomach can be diagnosed with their pattern and the signs and symptoms of the patient can look like a bacterial infection. This patient can receive their formula with an herb or two that are known to be anti-bacterial, etc.  This is also the case now with cancer treatment and management.

Chinese Medicine is thousands of years old with a systematic approach of treatment with excellent results for a very wide range of conditions. This makes it a superior method of treatment, but also a complicated one that practitioners go to school for 4 year graduate degrees. As any system that gets proven results you don’t look to make changes, but because it is a real systematic treatment discipline with results improvements can be added and the medicine can evolve. This is how modern day herbal formulas are getting results with cancer. The core pattern is addressed and specific cancer herbs are then added as necessary. Interestingly enough there is some overlap anyway. For example some herbs that were used to treat these ‘toxic breast lumps’ thousands of years ago are still used from modern research. Dandelion or Pu Gong Ying was used because it reduces swellings and lumps and had a correlation through the channel and meridian system to the breast. Modern research shows that dandelion is good for breast cancer.

Herbs don’t always receive enough time in a research facility to find out EXACTLY how it does something. There just isn’t enough research money to do this. Plus herbs are filled with buffers, alkaloids, tannins, vitamins, minerals and so on. They are like highly potent foods and sometimes it is unsure if it is specific chemicals in the herbs or the effect of all the ingredients in the herbs. Herbs treat cancer in a few different ways. Probably the most common is the use of anti-inflammatory type herbs. Anti-inflammatory herbs obviously have the ability to reduce inflammatory processes which has the ability to cause metastasis and unwanted cell growth. Anti-inflammatory herbs also typically contain anti-bacterial, anti-viral and have the ability to inhibit cellular respiration of cancer cells. Herbs that increase the immunity are also often used. These herbs have the end effect of either directly helping the body deal with cancers or increase the body’s ability to use other techniques to fight cancer. Herbs that are known to reduce lumps and swellings have the ability to deal with certain cancers. These herbs can often be used internally and externally. Some herbs have the ability to inhibit angiogenesis, or the ability for cancer cells to grow vascular supply for nutrients. There are many other strategies as well that are often used on a case by case basis that break up stagnations, help improve liver or other organ functions, and add antioxidant features in the body.

Here are some treatment strategies with the use of herbs and cancer:

–         Treat the pattern and add some herbs known to fight cancer

–         Treat the pattern and add specific herbs thought to treat the certain type of cancer more specifically

–         Treat the cancer specifically with herbs

–         Use external applications of herbs over the sites of cancer

The following are some herbs and their use in cancer treatments. This list is limited to ways of treatment and management of certain cancers and staying in remission. Herbs to treat side effects of chemo, radiation and specific cancer side effects are not discussed here.

Huang Lian / Coptis: Huang Lian is a cold anti-inflammatory herb with high amounts of berberine. Huang Lian is effective at killing gram negative and positive bacteria, yeast, and fungus and has the ability to inhibit cellular respiration in cancer cells. Huang Lian also has the ability to reduce inflammation in the liver and increase the secretion of bile helping in cases of liver involvement.

Jin Yin Hua / Honeysuckle: Jin Yin Hua is an herb used for general cases, or used in any case, of cancer. This herb contains saponins, flavones and other alkaloids that allow it to help in fighting cancer. This is also another anti-inflammatory type herb. Jin Yin Hua has an affinity for fighting lung cancer

Lian Qiao / Forsythia: Lian Qiao contains similar ingredients to Jin Yin Hua plus oleanolic acids. Its properties and abilities are similar to Honeysuckle and should be used together for synergistic effect.

Fu Ling / Poria: Fu Ling along with all medicinal funguses has the ability to improve health and immunity. Funguses are termed with longevity characteristics. In the case of Fu Ling it also increases WBC function and the formation of immunoglobulin, but it also has been researched to fight sarcoma in mice above a 90% effective rate. Fu Ling is also beneficial for the urinary tract and would be beneficial for kidney, bladder, and prostate cancers.

Ling Zhi / Reishi: Another fungus, this is a very large growing mushroom with excellent effects. Although known the world round for longevity and health, hence its high price, it has anticancer properties as well. Its high phytochemical ratio, alkaloids and enzymes are used for any cancer as these are system wide effects. This herb is to be used after chemo and into recovery for its prized immune system boosting ability.

Pu Gong Ying / Dandelion: Pu Gong Ying is an herb often used for abscesses and lumps. Its ability to reduce breast abscesses and cancer is well known around the world. It has also been researched to inhibit sarcomas in an over 40% effective rate. Pu Gong Ying can be used both internally and externally for breast cancers and effectiveness is increased this way. It is also thought that Pu Gong Ying activates liver function to help neutralize estrogen as well. Lastly, it is interesting to note that some research has been done on both the hot water extracted (tea, decoction, soak) and the alcohol extracted (tincture, elixir) and near 0% effective rates were seen in alcohol extracts even where over 40% rates were seen in hot water extracts.

Chai Hu / Buplerum: Chai Hu is an anti-inflammatory herb with strong liver detoxification action. This herb has research that it both increases apoptosis, cell death of cancer cells and inhibits angiogenesis, the cancer cells vascular supply it tries to create. Chai Hu is effective for breast, colon and liver cancers as a primary ingredient. Chai Hu also has been shown to increase the effectiveness of some chemotherapy agents when used together.

Huang Qi / Astragalus: Huang Qi is often seen in formulas involving cancer because of its strong influence on increasing immune function. The better the health and immunity of the patient the better prognosis for the cancer is. This herb is also used for healing in all types of situations and healing of stubborn abscesses, therefore it is thought that Huang Qi may contribute to additional factors other than immune function in fighting cancer.

Yi Yi Ren / Coix: Yi Yi Ren or coix is a grain, often mistakenly called barley. It is tasty and easy to eat in larger dosages as it is also food and an herb. Yi Yi Ren has biomedical uses of fighting cancer, but also has a damp draining capability which is a pattern in Chinese Medicine that is often related with cancers. Yi Yi Ren has a higher affinity toward cancers of the breast, larynx, uterus and stomach. It is also an anti angiogenesis herb and since it can be prescribed in food therapy is often a good addition to be used in any cancer.

Bai Hua She She Cao / Heydyotis: Bai Hua She She Cao is also called snake tongue is an herb traditionally used for various types of sores, toxins and snake bites. Modern research has shown it has great effects when added to formulas for any type of cancer. Its research shows high results in lung and stomach cancer. This is also another herb that will allow greater results to be had with its ability to treat externally as well as internally.

Tian Kui Zi / Semiaqualegia: Here is another herb in the same category that has been research for cancer and shows good results. This herb is less common and well know than the previous written, but was included for its wide range of positive results. Tian Kui Zi is used for Breast, Liver, Lymphoma, bladder, throat and rectal cancer. This herb is the only one I have found researched with good results for rectal cancer, therefore I included it.

Ban Lan Gen / Isatis Root: Ban Lan Gen is highly anti-viral. This is one of those herbs that have changed the make up of some modern prescription writing due to its research to be found as anti-viral. This herb has been used and added too many formulas since we know now what diseases are viral caused and that this herb has high anti-viral properties. Ban Lan Gen is an obvious addition to any cancer thought to be viral like cervical, stomach and others.

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