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This process requires a certain will and dedication to seeing all the requisites to the healing take place. And most important during this time frame is the state of mind of the patient. I have found no other better determinant of the success of any given treatment than the patient's positive outlook and belief that he or she will heal. Consequently, I have had the largest successes of my medical career when my intention has been clear and focused. Intention on how to direct the qi with any given needle, on formulating herbal formulas, but most importantly, on my desire to see a patient heal.
Cartesian thought that is so heavily relied upon by western medicine separates the patient's body/illness from his mind. In so doing, it is deprived of the enormity of the healing powers that one's intention can ignite. Chinese medicine, Tibetan medicine, and many other alternative modalities respect intention in the healing process. In fact, one of the reasons I am so moved to write this post now is after witnessing Lama Doctor Tsewang Ngodrup Rinpoche approach and communicate with his patients. Rinpoche's ability to diagnose fatal illnesses and chronic debilitating conditions via pulse and urine diagnosis was impressive. But his ability to explain these diagnoses while simultaneously instilling hope and security that they would be healed was even more interesting to witness. To actually witness a patient being diagnosed with early stage breast cancer for the first time and feel relief was an unusual experience! She knew (because Rinpoche expressed it to her) that she would be alright and hence the healing was sparked even before the herbs were prescribed!
Of course, intention can backfire on us if we spend our time worried, scared, feeling helpless, hopeless and completely wrapped up in our own despair. Our intention needs to be focused on healing. And what Rinpoche says, it should be focused on healing others. We should go through our treatments for the benefit of other beings who suffer as we do. The acupuncture, herbs, medicines are to be taken with the intention of healing those in similar and worse conditions than ourselves. By so doing, the power of our intention magnifies for our benefit and all those other beings we intend to heal. The purer one's intention, the bigger the benefits.
By Camellia C. Pratt, DTCM
The first world conference on Breast Cancer was held July 1997, in Kingston, Ontario. The chief organizer Janet Collins, a nurse and midwife had many friends and a sister fall victim to what some say is becoming an epidemic. Breast Cancer kills almost one million women worldwide annually, including about 7000 in Canada in 1997.
As much as cancer has been blamed on genetic quirks, lifestyle factors, including smoking and having a high fat diet, about 70 % of breast disease causes don't fall into high-risk categories. (1) Now with the high incident rates in the Northern New York States and north shore of Great Lakes, second highest only to San Francisco Bay with 18,000 new cases annually, some feel Breast Cancer could be environmental pollution induced. Sandra Stein Graber, a Boston Biologist states 80% of Breast Cancers are caused by environmental hazards (2)
Despite the enormous effort to combat Breast Cancer, the number of new cases rises each year. For example, the introduction of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immuno-therapy, CT Scans, MRI scans and all other new medical technology, life spans for breast cancer patients have remained the same, as there hasn't been any significant progress in Breast Cancer treatment. Treatment has improved survival only slightly, in fact. The five year survival rate for Breast Cancer in 1976 was 75%, 1983- 77% and in 1989- 78%. Most scientist/ physicians are convinced however that the slight increase in time of survival of lifespan is due largely to earlier detection of Breast Cancer, by improving mammography technology. But to an oncologist if the patient lives 5 years + 1 day, that woman survived and is counted as a cure, even if she has died. If however she lives one day less than 5 years she is counted as a non-survivor. In 1960,1 in 20 women developed Breast Cancer, in 1974, 1 in 17. The odds have gotten worse with each succeeding year. By 1990 the rate rose astronomically to 1 in 10, and kept zooming, in 1991, 1 in 9, in 1994, 1 in 8 women developed breast Cancer. (3)
In the last two decades the National Cancer Institute has spent over $1 billion on breast cancer alone, touting spectacular progress at the research level with almost no change in reducing mortality or increasing life spans. And that is the primary objective of any treatment to make the lifespan longer, improve survival. Two advances have come about however:
1. Minimizing pain and suffering
2. Less mutilating surgery to achieve the same survival. Even though this information is well known to all scientist and physicians, the great majority of all breast cancers are still handled the same way, i.e. modified radical mastectomy rather than lumpectomy, auxiliary node dissection and radiation therapy (3). Dr. Stephen Narod, a Medical Researcher from Women's College Hospital in Toronto concluded "mastectomy before cancer strikes" is the best approach to treating women carrying the genes linked with the disease even though as some delegates attending the conference in Kingston pointed out, research hasn't proven conclusively that breast removal is an effective prevention strategy. (4)
There is an information gap on the causes, monitoring and prevention of breast cancer, because little conclusive research has been done on the subject. However, it is known that 75% of patients survive breast cancer, and most breast cancers are present 8 to 10 years before they can be detected as a lump or on a mammogram, according to Dr. Susan Love, MD. Associate Professor of Clinical Surgery at the University of California, Los Angeles and Director of the Breast Cancer Institute. Dr. Love points out "The problem of the prevention and treatment of breast cancer is the fact that 80% of women who get breast cancer don't have (the traditional) risk factors. A low fat diet may be preventative, but we won't have the results from studies for a good five to ten years. Recent studies however have disputed the long-standing belief of that risk factor. The Canadian National Breast Screening study, which examined the diets of almost 57,000 women, claimed that a higher incidence of breast cancer was observed in women consuming the most fat. They neglected to report that the same high, incidence of breast cancer was observed in the women consuming the least amount of fat.
The Nurses Study in the U.S.A found exactly the same pattern. When the data from both studies were compared and evaluated, it was discovered that "The breast cancer rate among these women was virtually the same, whether they ate a lot of fat or very little". (8)
Another study, has also recently discounted the high genetic risk factor. Although the risk of breast cancer is doubled among women whose mother or sister contacted Breast Cancer before the age of 40, the study indicated that within middle -aged women, only 2.5 % of breast cancer cases were attributable to family history. (5)
Early detection is currently one of the primary strategies for prevention and successful treatment, which is why the self-breast exam is so important. The benefits of mammography are still a subject of debate. Questions that are still present include whether low-level radiation used in the test can contribute to cancer, whether equivocal results lead to unnecessary surgery and the accuracy rate of test results.
According to the National Cancer Institute, in women ages 40-49 there is a high rate of missed tumors, resulting in 40% false negative test results. Breast tissue in younger women is denser, which makes it more difficult to detect tumors, so tumors grow more quickly in younger women, and tumors may develop between screenings. Because there is no reduction in mortality from breast cancer as a direct result of early mammogram, it is recommended that women under fifty avoid screening mammograms although the American Cancer Society is still recommending a mammogram every two years for women ages 40-49. Dr. Love states, "We know that mammography works and will be a lifesaving tool for at least 30% (6)
Dr. Norman Boyd, head of the Division of Epidemiology and Statistics at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto, whose research was funded by drug companies (6), calls dense breast tissue a "major cancer risk , and they should have mammograms "more frequently than other women", also adding patients should be cautioned to follow a low-fat, high fiber diet and perhaps take specific medication to "block factors that play a role in breast density" and thus cancer. According to the American Academy of Pathology at least 50%, but as many as 80% of North American women suffer some sort of fibrocystic breast disease or density (11), causing a lot of pain and discomfort as well as a great deal of anxiety. Although a benign condition, it can be difficult for both women and their physicians to distinguish a cystic breast lump from a cancerous one. Right now Fibrocystic Breast Disease is a confusing term or as Dr. Susan Love says Sa wastebasket into which doctors throw every breast problem which isn't cancer." (yet).
Various researchers have suggested a hormonal imbalance, a decreased ratio of progesterone to estrogen in the second half of the menses cycle, an abnormality of prolactin regulation, a hypersensitivity to thyroid stimulating hormone and increased estrogen levels, as causes of fibrocystic breast disease.
Various treatments of fibrocystic breast disease are: Dr. Mauvais Jarvis and his group of French researchers found that breast pain was relieved 95% of the time with a natural progesterone gel rubbed into the breasts.
Dr. John Lee, clinical instructor at U. of California Dept. of Family Medicine has had good success using a 2 oz. jar of 3% natural progesterone cream for the last two weeks of cycle for a total of 3 -6 months. Maintenance is 1/2 jar a month. Studies have been inclusive as to whether vitamin supplementation reduces pain or swelling.
Dr. Christine Northrup, an American gynecologist, recommends hot castor oil packs applied to the breast 3 times a week for one hour for 2-3 months with maintenance afterwards of once a week. (12)
Dr. John Myers a Baltimore gynecologist with a special interest in metabolic disease is credited among the first to recognize the importance of iodine to the breast and ovary. He found he could completely reverse fibrocystic breast disease using iodine orally and vaginally along with trace mineral elements given under the tongue and magnesium given intravenously. Cystic breast would soften quickly under the regime, sometimes immediately. (11)
In the Canadian Journal of Surgery, Dr. William Ghent, former Professor Emeritus of Surgery, at Queen"s University in Kingston, Ont. and Dr. Bernard Eskin, Professor of Reproductive Endocrinology and Obstetrics & Gynecology at Medical College of Pennsylvania, (who both collaborated on clinical research of iodine deficiency and fibrocystic disease in the 1970's) have speculated that the elemental iodine is essential for breast normality, and its absence seems to render the breast ducts more sensitive to estrogen stimulation and subsequent formation of cysts and scar tissue. They theorize that adequate amounts of elemental iodine in breast tissue make them less sensitive to circulating estrogens. As such the iodine could be classed as a natural anti-estrogen a sort of natural tamoxifen. Incidentally, during treatment for fibrocystic breast disease, it was noted that some women experienced a marked improvement in their endometriosis. At present this special form of iodine must be taken continuously or the breasts will become cystic again. With Dr. Ghent's research on fibrocystic disease of 3200 women for 12,000 women years, the breast cancer rate of women taking the elemental iodine was 0.00082 women per year, while the projected incidence of breast cancer for Ontarian women was .0064 women per year.(11)
Sydney Singer a medical Anthropologist, examines the ways in which our lifestyles make us sick, and came up with the theory that "there is no such disease as Breast Cancer, there is cancer which manifested in a woman's breast". He discovered that where there were not brassieres, there was little breast disease, after conducting a two-year study in which he interviewed over 5000 women regarding their attitude and behavior regarding breast and bras. About half of the women had breast cancer, and he discovered that the women with breast cancer had a history of tighter and longer bra wearing than did the women who had not (yet) developed the disease.
The researcher also threw out the challenge that if a woman stopped wearing her bra for two weeks that fibrocystic breast disease would disappear. (I had suffered Fibrocystic Breast Disease for over 35 years, and thought what the heck, I'll give him three weeks. I marked the time off on my calendar and carried on with life as usual. After three weeks, my breast was completely clear of Fibrocystic Breast Disease (from a bag full of marbles to one full of water, what a difference). Dr. Singer has pointed out that the problem caused by bras is essentially a mechanical interference with the breast lymphatic drainage. However, in today's world we are all exposed to hazardous cancer causing toxins in our food, air water and medications. Pesticides, herbicides and other chemical contaminants enter our bodies and must be cleared away, along with the damage they caused. This is the basis of the dietary connection with cancer (and environmental pollution). It is through our diets that we get exposed to many toxins especially the fat-soluble toxins that are found in the fatty part of our foods. High fat diets are associated with cancer, not because of the fat itself (which people have been consuming for thousands, if not millions of years), but because of the toxin content of fats produced in our chemical dependent food production system. Once in our tissues, these toxins must be flushed out via the lymphatics. However, a bra-constricted breast cannot adequately perform this cleansing process, resulting in toxin accumulation in the breasts.
One major reason women wear bras is the myth that bras are needed for "support". This myth assumes that the female body was created with a flaw pertaining to shape. This apparent flaw is a reflection of a fashion image which demands that women have their breasts higher on their chest wall than nature intended, and which can be achieved only with the purchase of a product-the brassiere. In fact, bras are creating droopy, weak breasts, the exact opposite of what this myth claims. As the breast relies on the bra for artificial support the body loses its ability to support the breast by itself. (13)
ERT & CANCER: Dr. Alan Gaby, author of Preventing and Reversing Osteoporosis, explains that at least 28 different studies have evaluated the relationship between Estrogen Replacement Therapy and breast cancer. These analyses suggest that estrogen replacement therapy is associated with an increase in the risk of breast cancer ranging from 1-30% (9)
When suffering stage 3, large C prostate cancer, my husband was prescribed women's hormones to slow the cancer growth. He developed breasts, which produced large tumors. His surgeon wished to operate, but we decided against it, and upon chance when visiting an acupuncturist, the DTCM recommended some nightly massage of Zusali (Stomach 36 point) and the tumors went away.
WESTERN PERSPECTIVE: CANCER OF BREAST AND TREATMENT: The value of lymph node removal is increasingly controversial, says Dr. Greg McGregor, head of surgical oncology at the British Columbia Cancer Agency. He is chief investigator in a new trial to see if lymph node conservation affects cancer recurrence or survival.
Dr. Edward Fish, Assistant Surgery Professor at University of Toronto, also questions routine removal of lymph nodes, especially for women with a small lump. An experimental technique is being developed where a dye is injected close to the tumor. The dye then travels to the lymph gland called the senital gland. That gland alone is then removed and if it contains no cancer cells, the lymph nodes can be safely intact. Dr. Fish studied 100 women who had lumpectomy only. Women over the age 65 with a small non-aggressive tumor had a local recurrence rate of less than five percent and would thus benefit little from radiation.
Recently in Vancouver B.C., 40 doctors from across North America made a landmark decision to study unconventional cancer treatments. (16) In the question of "preventive" chemotherapy, Steve Austin, a naturopath, says most women have impaired quality of life from chemotherapy, but few benefits. Side effects could include hair loss, nausea, and lowered white blood cell count and susceptibility to infection. (17)
Another treatment/preventive tried out now is Tamoxifen, which was developed about 20 years ago. Researchers discovered it lowered Breast Cancer rates in animals, and started studying its effects on human breast cancer. The researchers found out that tamoxifen interfered with estrogen in breast tissue by stopping it from binding to particular receptors. Although estrogen promotes the growth of breast cancer cells, it must first bind to these receptors in order to have any effect at all. Tamoxifen blocks these estrogen receptors and helps reduce the chance of a recurrence of breast cancer. Because of this anti-estrogenic effect, the side effects of tamoxifen mirror that of menopause. The research soon unveiled even more serious side effects of tamoxifen usage. Even the National Cancer Institute admits that Tamoxifen can cause an increase of uterine cancer. It is also believed to cause liver cancer. Dr. Samuel Epstein, an expert in environmental toxicology has reported Tamoxifen is the most potent liver carcinogen available,(18) and most experts are telling us this is the "most promising anti-cancer drug on the market".(19)
It has been my experience that before cancer can be cured or go into remission, some psychological work must be done. There seems to be a spiritual manifestation of the disease and this must be treated along side the physical ones. Dr. Louise Hay, an international renown counselor, teacher and lecturer, states "frequently patients with cancer have a deep hurt, long-standing resentment, a deep secret or grief eating away at self. Carrying hatred saying 'What"s the use?', and then the part of the body involved sometimes shows the person's mind bent. For example in breast problems perhaps the person had a problem with over-mothering, over-protection or over-bearing attitude, perhaps a refusal to nourish the self, putting everyone else first." (21)
Edward Bach stated that Disease is in essence, the result of conflict between soul and mind. and will never be eradicated in the patient except by spiritual and mental effort. We must learn to think, reason, see, hear, speak and pray from the heart, not the head to be with our soul. "Illness. disharmony and imbalance are often a result of the gap between the inner state and the 'face' that we daily put on to those around us" (22)
Dr. Ron Pratt. Ph.D. .F.B.F.S. a social science researcher has stated that in his experience and observations, that especially cancer, among others is a disease that not only attacks the physical, it also attacks the spirit. "Such men as Hippocrates, with his mighty ideals of healing, Paracelsus with his certainty of the Divinity of Man; and Hahnemann, who realized that disease originates in a plane above the physical, Edward Bach with his certainty that the real cause of disease are such defects as pride, cruelty, hate, self-love, ignorance (lack of wisdom), instability of mind (indecision), inconsistency, greed, presumption, pretension, immaturity, deceit, deception, sensuality. What untold misery would have been spared during the last 20 to 25 centuries had the teachings of these great masters and their art been followed. Unfortunately, as in other areas, materialism has appealed too strongly, and for so long a time, that the voices of the detractors and obstructers have risen above the advise of those great masters, who knew the truth." (20)
TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE PERSPECTIVE
Many people are returning to ancient manuscripts and studying the masters, and now we see the West embracing the 5000 years documented medicine from the east, commonly known as Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The five principles of TCM treatment are:
1. Fu Zheng Qi Xie- promote, enhance, dispel evil, and strengthen"s patient"s resistance.
2. Huo Xue Qu Yu- eliminates stasis and promotes blood circulation
3. Qing Re Jie Du- clear and remove evil heat, detox, relieve fever and pain.
4.Ruan Jian San Jie- softens, dissolve hard masses.
5. Yi Du Gong Du- combat poisons with poisons.
TCM believes that cancer involves four factors: blood stasis, deficiency, toxicity and phlegm, that all must be present for cancer to happen. The aetiology and pathogenesis of Breast Cancer is:
Insufficiency of vital Qi- injury of seven emotions
Stagnation of Liver and Spleen Qi and disorder of Chong and Ren channels leads to disturbance of physiological function of Zang-fu organs and mammary gland, obstruction of the channels and collaterals accumulation of stagnated Qi, blood and phlegm in breast.
1) For stagnation of the Liver Qi, wishing to relieve the depressed liver and resolve phlegm and masses use a modified XIAO YAO SAN:
Chai hu 10 gr. (Bupleurum falcatum)
Detoxifies the liver, regulates liver qi,
Bai shao 12 gr, (White peony)
Tonifies blood, antispasmodic, nourishes ying
Dang Gui 12 gr.
Tonifies and moves blood
Bai Zhu 10 gr.
Tonifies qi, removes dampness, promotes digestion
Fu Ling I0 gr. (Poria Cocos)
Diuretic, drains dampness, purifies the lymphatic system, anticancer
Tian Nan Xing 10 gr. Arisaema Consanguineum (prepared jack in the pulpit)
Dissolves and Removes phlegm congestion from the chest, anticancer
Jiang Ban Xia 10 gr. (Prepared Pinellia ternata)
Dissolves and removes phlegm from the chest
Quan Gua Lou 10gr. (Trichosanthes fruit)
Clears heat, detoxifies, anticancer, removes phlegm-heat, dissipates nodules (tumors) especially good for the lungs and breast
Chuan Lian Zi 10 gr. (Meliae Toosendan fruit)
Moves qi, stops pain, clears heat and detoxifies, anticancer,
Gan Cao 6 gr. (glycyrrhizae uralensis licorice)
Harmonizes, tonifies qi, anticancer
For hypertensive liver fire add:
Mu Dan Pi 10 gr. (tree peony root bark paeonia suffructicosa)
Clears heat, moves blood
Shan Zhi Zi 10gr. (Gardenia fruit Gardeniae jasminoides)
Moves blood, clears heat, detoxifies, anticancer
2) For disorder of Chong & Ren Channels requiring a modified ER XIAN TANG (Decoction of Curculigo and Epimodium) to regulate the two channels:
Xian Mao 10 gr. (Curculigo orchiodes)
Tonifies kidney yang (adrenals), removes coldness and dampness
Xian Ling Pi 15 gr. (Epimedium grandiflorum)
Tonifies kidney yang (adrenals), removes damp-cold
Ba Ji Tan 10 gr. (Morinda officinalis root)
Strengthens kidney yang (adrenals)
Dang Gui 15gr. (Angelica sinensis)
Tonifies and moves blood
Lu Jiao Shuang 6 gr. (Cornu cervi degelatinatium) this is the dregs after boiling deer antler glue, it is milder than deer antler, but also tonifies qi and blood
Zi Dan Shen 15 gr. (Red sage root Salvia miltiorrhizae)
Moves blood, cools heat, relieves pain, calmative, removes liver qi stagnation, prevents metastasis
Ban Xia 10gr. (Prepared pinellia ternata root)
Dissolves and removes phlegm from the chest
Bai Jie Zi 10gr. (mustard seed brassica alba)
Promotes digestion, relieves stagnation, anticancer
Gan Cao 6 gr. (glycyrrhizae uralensis licorice)
Harmonizes, tonifies qi, anticancer
If the breast is hard, painful and complicated with anemia add:
Ezhu 12 gr. (Curcuma zedoaria)
Moves blood, dissolves stagnation and masses, and relieves pain, anticancer
Zhi Ru Xiang 12 gr. (Frankincense Gummi Olibanum)
Moves blood, dissolves stagnation and masses, and relieves pain
Zhi Mo Yao 12gr. (Myrrh Commiphora myrrha)
Moves blood, relieves pain, and dissolves masses
3) Another type is accumulation of noxious fire in the interior and to purge fire, remove toxins, subdue swelling and arrest pain use a modified LONG DAN XIE GEN TANG:
Long Dan Cao 6 gr. (Gentiana scabra)
Clears heat and dampness, relieves inflammation, anticancer
Shan Zhi Zi 10 gr. (Gardenia fruit Gardeniae jasminoides)
Moves blood, clears heat, detoxifies, anticancer
Huang Qin 15 gr. (Scutellaria baicalensis)
Clears heat and dampness, detoxifies, anticancer
Sheng Di 21gr. (Unprepared Rehmannia glutinosa)
Clears heat, nourishes the blood and yin
Che Qian Zi I2 gr. (Plantago asiatica seed)
Removes dampness, diuretic, clears heat, purifies the lymphatic system
Ze Xie 10 gr. (Alisma tuber water plantain)
Diuretic, clears heat, promotes lymphatic purification
Mu Tong 9 gr. (Akebia trifoliata)
Diuretic, antiinflammatory, detoxifies, anticancer
Dang Gui 12 gr. (Angelica sinensis)
Tonifies and moves blood
Chai Hu 10 gr. (Bupleurum falcatum)
Detoxifies the liver, regulates liver qi,
Zao Xin 30 gr. (Terra flava usta derived from the center of the ashes from the bottom of a cooking stove where lithospermum has been burned)
Warms the blood, stops bleeding, warms the stomach, stops vomiting
Feng Fang 15 gr. (Wasp"s nest Polistes olivaceus)
Detoxifies, moves blood, anticancer, treats tumors
Quan Xie 10 gr. (Scorpion Buthus martensi)
Detoxifies, regulates qi flow, anticancer
Long Kei Zi 15 gr.
Sheng Gan Cao 6 gr. (glycyrrhizae uralensis licorice)
Harmonizes, tonifies qi, anticancer
If the fever is severe add:
Jin Yin Hua 30 gr. (Lonicera or honeysuckle flowers)
Lian Qiao 15 gr. (Forsythia suspensa)
Detoxifies, clears heat, anticancer, moves blood, dissolves lumps
Sheng Shi Gao 30 gr. (Gypsum)
or the following could be used for removing heat and toxic material and anti-cancer. Ban Zhi Lian 30 gr. (Scutellaria barbata)
Clears heat and dampness, anticancer,
Bai Hua She She Cao 30 gr, (Oldenlandia diffusa)
Anticancer, clears heat
4) For deficiency of both Qi and Blood- where the Breast is like a cauliflower and with a continual exudative blood fluid plus other symptoms. Where the practitioner wishes to tonify Qi and Blood remove toxic material and resolve phlegm a modified GUI PI TANG can be used:
Huang Qi (astragalus) 30 gr.
Tonifies qi, strengthens the immune system, protects the body, anti-cancer
Dang Shen (codonopsis) 30 gr.
Bai Zhu (white atractylodes) 12 gr.
Tonifies Qi, removes dampness, strengthens digestion
Dang Gui (Angelica sinensis) I0 gr.
Nourishes and moves blood,
Fu Ling (Poria cocos) 15 gr.
Diuretic, promotes lymphatic drainage, anticancer
Chi Shan Yao (red peony root paeonia rubra) I2 gr.
Moves blood, breaks up stagnation
Long Yan Rou (Longan berries Arillus longus) 30 gr.
Nourishes blood, mild sedative, tonifies the heart and spleen
Shuang Hua Teng (Lonicera or honeysuckle vine) 30 gr.
Ba Jie Zi (mustard seed brassica alba) 10 gr.
Promotes digestion, relieves stagnation, anticancer
Qian Cao Gen (madder root Rubiae cordifoliae) 15 gr. (23)
Stops bleeding and yet it promotes blood circulation
This entire amount is cooked in 6 cups slowly down to 2 or 3, which is consumed in three times daily.
FOLK CURE Another folk remedy that has been very successful in dissolving cancer tumours is the use of raw red beetroots, but when ingested as a juice there is a danger of the patient contracting a high fever because of the incredible strong ability to quickly break up cancer in the body. The beets can clean up the cancer faster than the liver is capable of processing all of the wastes dumped into it at all at once. Reducing dosage helps. (24)
1. The Vancouver Sun Monday 14 July 1997
2. Sandra Stein Graber Auth6r"Living Downstream"
3. Breast Health Update- Charles B.Simone, M.D.
4. The Vancouver Sun Tue 15 July 1997
5. Colditz G.A. "Family History Age & Risk of Breast Cancer,
Prospective Data from the Nurses Health Study" Journal of
The Amer. Medical Assoc 270 #3 July 1993
6. Alternative Medicine- Burton Goldberg Group.
7. Breast Cancer Scandal- Rhody Lake; Alive / Oct. 1995
8. Getting Fat & The Myth of the Fat Free Campaign- Thomas Anderson Ph.D.; Alive/ Oct 1995
9. Prevention &. Reversing Osteoporosis- Alan Gaby
10. Pizzorio J.E. & Murray M.T. "A Textbook of Natural Medicine' Seattle, We, John Bastr College Pubs. 1988-89.
11. DeMarco, Carolyn M.D. Health Counsellor Aug/Sept 1995
12. Northrup, Christine M.D. Gynaecologist "Women's Wisdom, Women's Bodies" Doubleday 1994
13. Singer, Sydney Ross, Medical anthropologist "Dressed to Kill- the link between Breast Cancer & Bras"
14. The Vancouver Sun Tue 15 July 1997
15. Simone, Charles B. M.D. founder of Simone Cancer Centre "Breast Health"- Impakt Communications Ltd.
16. DeMarco, Dr. Carolyn- The Vancouver Sun Mon Nov. 18, 1996
17. Austin, Steve author of "Breast Cancer" -Prima Press 1994
18. Gazella, Karolyn A. author of "The Breast Cancer Prevention Trial- Beware of dangerous Science" Health Counsellor Feb 1995
19. The Complete Book of Natural & Medical Cures- Rodale 1994 20. Pratt, Dr. Ph.D. (Psychology) (Humanities) F.B.F.S.
21. Hay, Dr. Louise L.- "Heal Your Body"
22.Howard &. Ramsal- "The Original Writings of Edward Bach"
23. English Chinese Encyclopaedia of Practical T.C.M. Beijing #10, Internal Medicine
24. Heinemann"s Encyclopaedia of Fruits Vegetables & John Heinemann- medical anthropologist
Camellia C. Pratt is an East West Herb Course Student and a practitioner. She is developing a wonderful website that describes her clinic. Check it out at
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
CANCER & CHINESE MEDICINE
By Ross Rosen, J.D., M.S.T.O.M., L.Ac., C.A., Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM)
Cancer is a cellular malignancy resulting from uncontrolled cellular growth. This loss of control may be the result of changes to the DNA caused by a number of factors, including genetics, immunological deficiencies, viruses and exposure to toxins and carcinogens. Eastern medicine has many views regarding the causes of cancer, including, the 7 emotions (an excess of depression, anger, anxiety, worry, fear, grief and overthinking can cause imbalances in the circulation of qi), qi and blood stagnation, phlegm-damp accumulation, and internal and external toxins. What is consistent among the eastern etiologies, however, is that internal causes are a major culprit. And as always, we need to factor into the likelihood of the formation of cancer the terrain/environment that the cancer can grow in. Each person has his/her unique constitution/body condition/strengths and weaknesses which leave him/her vulnerable or with a strong defense to the formation of cancer.
Traditional Chinese Medicine typically classifies tumors as qi and blood stagnation, or phlegm-damp accumulation. These are the two main etiologies for the formation of a mass. This is not to say that treating qi and blood stagnation or phlegm-damp accumulation is sufficient to treat cancer -- if it were, cancer would not be the threat that it is today. What qi and blood stagnation or phlegm-damp accumulation tell us is the main pathological influence contributing to the formation of the tumor. This becomes significant for determining the root cause of the cancer itself.
II. THE ELEMENTS IMPLICATED IN UNCONTROLLED GROWTH
While eastern and western explanations differ regarding the genesis of cancer, they are not as disparate as they may seem at first glance. The main link between these two theories is the idea that cancer is caused by a lack of internal control. While the east and west attribute different paradigmatic processes to this lack of control, they are in effect, similar. If we accept the premise that cancer is caused by uncontrolled growth, to understand this process according to Chinese medicine we must first look to the elements and organs which are most responsible for this function. In Chinese medicine, it is the water element/kidneys, and the wood element/liver which govern growth. Under the theories of Chinese medicine, the kidneys, and hence the water element, control the processes of growth, development, maturation and death. It is the kidney energy that fills the 8 extra meridians, and the kidney yin and yang which form the yuan qi. It is our kidney energy that regulates the 7 and 8 year cycles of men and women. It is our reserves, our essence, our potential. This energy may be likened to the concepts of DNA and genetic influences that are attributed to western medicine. The other element, wood, is considered to be the element of birth. It has an upward and outward energy. This element is constantly creating and growing. It is the manifestation and activation of the potential of the water element. Together, the water and wood elements represent the movement from the winter to the spring and the ascension of energy.
III. CAUSES OF UNCONTROLLED GROWTH
The reason that cells proliferate out of control is that the water energy or wood energy depending on etiology (which will be discussed later) goes unchecked. Like any system, the human body has to have counterbalancing forces. The counterbalancing or controlling force behind the water element is the earth element, associated with the spleen and stomach. The control for the wood element is the metal element, associated with the lungs and large intestine. The reason that energy gets stuck in either the water or wood phase is either the weakness or deficiency of the controlling phase, or an apparent excess in the element itself. In either event, the control element is unable to perform its function. Thus, a deficient earth element will allow the water element to become excessive and stagnate, and a deficient metal element will permit wood energy to stagnate. To be clear, it is an excess of water energy, not of the kidneys, and it is an excess of wood energy, not of the liver. A deficient spleen or lungs will not result in a strong kidneys and liver; on the contrary, it creates an overabundance of energy within those phases. This results in the associated organs working overtime to attempt to deal with the excess. But due to the deficiency in the control elements, this excess continues to build, and the organs are unable to transform and utilize this abundant energy. As a result, the entirety of energy that typically passes from one phase to the next is undermined. Excess still remains in the overabundant phase and it is this excess which creates stagnation.
IV. CAUSES OF LACK OF CONTROL
It is this failure of the control cycle, which enables the stagnation of either the water or wood elements. This stagnation, then, disrupts the sheng cycle, not allowing for the energy to transfer from the excess element to the next. This further exacerbates the vacuity of the controlling element, which makes it more unable to assert its dominance over the water or wood elements. The cause of this lack of control, then, is identical to the cause of a weak earth element or metal element. Practitioners of Chinese medicine are well aware of these causes; poor diet (including excessive intake, cold and raw foods, excess sweets, dairy, fried or greasy foods, etc.), alcohol, anxiety and worry, overthinking, grief, inability to let go, environmental pollutants and toxins, and lack of exercise are some of the main culprits.
V. CANCER THEORY
To summarize, a weak earth or metal element will allow for stagnation in the water or wood element respectively. This stagnation will cause an uncontrolled growth of otherwise healthy cells. This uncontrolled growth will eventually lead to stagnation, the primary pathogenic factor being either qi and blood stagnation or phlegm-damp accumulation. In either event, the accumulation will build, and when severe enough, heat will develop and eventually lead to a toxin. This toxin will catalyze the tumor into a malignancy as it will cause the proliferated cells to grow at a faster rate. The heat toxin will determine the severity of the cancer; if too hot, it will cause poor differentiation of cells due to the rapidity of the growth. Factors in determining the severity of the stagnation and heat toxin, and hence the severity of the malignancy include genetics influences, lifestyle factors, general constitution, and the quantity and quality of our emotions.
While all this is occurring, the earth and metal elements are weakening even further. Because the lungs and the spleen are the bodies main organs involved in immune response, the defense of the outer aspects being monitored by the lungs and skin, and the interior being maintained by the spleen (which is responsible for controlling the lymphatic system), our immunity begins to diminish even further. Thus, the body becomes unable to deal with the constant introduction of external pathogenic influences (toxins and carcinogens) which are ubiquitous in the air we breathe and the food and drink we consume. These external toxins which are now unable to be dealt with begin to invade and mix with the internal toxins caused by the uncontrolled proliferation of cells. If the patient's spleen and lungs are still strong enough to provide an adequate defense against these external pathogens, the growth of the tumor may be delayed, since the external toxins and carcinogens would not have enough time to mix with the tumor cells and internal toxins. What is interesting to note is the similarity now between the western and eastern ideas surrounding cancer; i.e., that cancer can be contributed to by air pollutants/toxins/chemicals, and by toxins in our food and drink. These are how carcinogens can enter our body - once our earth and metal elements are too weak to provide an adequate defense.
Another consideration is the site of the cancerous activity. While there is no consistent basis for determining the site of a tumor in a high-risk patient, there are a number of factors which may determine where tumors arise, including, (1) the patient's constitution (tumors may often be situated in the organ of, or in a location under the influence of, a patient's constitutional element, i.e., throat cancer in a metal constitution, or cervical cancer in a water constitution; the tumor site may be also at the locus of the element in the control cycle to the patient's constitutional element, or an area under its influence, i.e., colon cancer in a wood constitution); (2) the area of greatest abuse, i.e., lung cancer in a smoker, liver cancer in an alcoholic; (3) genetics, i.e., breast cancer in mother and daughter.
Treatment of the cancer cells depends on the proper differentiation of which elements are most out of balance. There are two ways to determine which element is the root cause of the cancer. They are accomplished through the 4 examinations which are the hallmark of Chinese medicine. During the intake, one should be looking for predominant signs of either qi and blood stagnation or phlegm-damp accumulation. Signs of qi and blood stagnation (tumor hard and fixed, fixed pain, purple tongue, dark and distended sublingual veins, wiry, choppy pulse, etc.) would point the practitioner to wood as the primary element involved, while phlegm-damp signs (tumor soft or moveable, nausea, thick greasy tongue coat, slippery or soft pulse, etc.) may point to the water element. In essence, determine whether the patient's disharmony is one of a breakdown in qi dynamic or water metabolism. The second is that there should also be corresponding deficient signs in the control element. Thus, if it is unclear whether the water or wood element is implicated and there are clear signs of spleen qi deficiency, one would suspect water involvement. Lung qi deficiency would implicate wood. This becomes difficult at later stages of the cancer since by this time the spleen and lungs will both be very deficient (and a deficiency in earth will cause a deficiency in metal and vice versa) and there will be clear signs of both phlegm-damp and qi and blood stagnation since dampness will impede the smooth flow of qi, and qi stagnation will prevent the proper transformation of fluids.
In general, the treatment strategy involves draining the excess stagnation from either the water or wood elements and tonifying the deficiency in the earth or metal elements. For a water excess and earth deficiency, one should transfer energy away from the wood element to encourage or stimulate the transfer of energy from water to wood. In addition, the kidneys should be mildly strengthened to facilitate water metabolism while simultaneously supplementing the spleen and stomach to exert proper control over water and aid in the transformation and transportation of fluid metabolism. For a wood excess and metal deficiency, one should transfer energy away from wood and fire and simultaneously supplement metal. Where there is evidence of a breakdown in both control cycles, a skilled practitioner will need to incorporate both treatment strategies, each to the degree of the disharmony as he determines it.
A. Acupuncture The foregoing principles can be accomplished in a number of ways and according to individual styles and training, i.e., TCM, 5 Element, meridian style, etc. Typical point prescriptions may include points from the following:
Sedate: LV 1, LV 2, LV 3 Sedate: HT 8, LV 2, LV 3
KI 1, SP 6
Tonify: ST 36, SP 3, SP 4, Tonify: LV 4, LU 1, LU 8,
KI 3 LU 9, SP 3, LI 4
These representative point prescriptions should be incorporated into and combined with other points to address the more specific presentation of the patient, his symptoms, constitution, etc.
B. Herbs Herbal therapy should follow the same principles enumerated above. Thus, herbs which promote the circulation of liver qi, supplement the kidneys and tonify the spleen and stomach should be used where tumors are of the the phlegm-damp type, and where qi and blood stagnation is found, one should use herbs which drain the liver by invigorating qi and removing blood stasis, while supplementing the lungs. Special attention should be given to herbs which are known to have anti-cancer properties. Some are included in the following:
Herbs which drain the LV Herbs which invigorate qi/blood and
and improve water metabolism remove stasis
Xia Ku Cao, Ji Xue Teng, Xia Ku Cao,
Zhu Ling, Xiang Fu, E Zhu, San Leng, Dan Shen, Hong Hua
Yi Yi Ren, Fo Shou Tao Ren, Ru Xiang, Mo Yao, Dang Gui,
Yi Mu Cao Shui Zhi, Tu Bie Chong, Xiang Fu, Chai Hu,
Yu Jin, Bai Shao, Mu Dan Pi
Herbs which supplement Earth Herbs which tonify Metal
Ren Shen, Huang Qi, Ren Shen, Huang Qi,
Bai Zhu, Fu Ling, Zhi Shi, Bai He, Tian Men Dong, Dang Shen,
Hou Po, Mu Xiang, Dang Shen Xing Ren, Sha Shen, Mai Men Dong
Special focus and attention should be given to herbs which clear heat and remove toxins since it is this toxic influence which contributes to the malignancy and the severity of the disease. Thus, a few herbs from this category should be incorporated into the herbal formula. Some notable herbs in this category which have anti-cancer effects are: Pu Gong Ying, Bai Hua She She Cao, Shan Dou Gen, and Da Qing Ye.
From the following discussion it is evident that prevention would include avoiding excessive anxiety and worry, eating a proper diet, engaging in regular exercise, being exposed to clean air, etc. In other words, maintaining a healthy spleen, stomach, lungs and large intestine. Additionally, one must take specific precautions against the accumulation of phlegm-damp and qi and blood stagnation by assuring the smooth flow of qi and blood.
IX. CASE STUDIES
A. Female, 31 years old -- breast cancer.
1. Background: Two lumps were detected in patient's right breast, and lumpectomies were performed. The first tumor was 2.5cm, cells were poorly differentiated, and were estrogen positive. Second tumor was <1cm, cells were better differentiated, and were estrogen negative. Patient's cancer was staged at level II. Strong familial history of breast cancer was reported; mother diagnosed at age 41 and died at age 47; multiple cousins on maternal side also diagnosed at early age. The patient came for treatments one week after lumpectomies in order to heal from treatment and boost immunity prior to chemotherapy and radiation, and manage side effects.
2. Signs and Symptoms:
b. Herbs: After the initial treatment, the patient was given the following formula:
Tai Zi Shen
Tian Men Dong
Mu Dan Pi
Ji Xue Teng
Xia Ku Cao
Pu Gong Ying
c. Analysis: This patient represents a case in which a breakdown in both control cycles is evident. It was determined that the initial disharmony began with a metal deficiency, i.e., deficient lung qi. Thus, tonifying the lungs and invigorating liver qi were adopted as the primary strategy (huang qi, dang shen, tai zi shen, tian men dong for the lungs; dang gui, bai shao, mu dan pi, ji xue teng for invigorating the liver qi and blood; xia ku cao and pu gong ying for addressing the toxins and draining the liver in general). The secondary strategy was to tonify the spleen and stomach and improve water metabolism (fu ling, zhu ling, bai zhu).
B. Female, 51 years old -- cervical cancer.
1. Background: patient's symptom signifying cancer was sporadic vaginal bleeding 2-3 days per week. After diagnosis, hysterectomy was performed, followed by chemotherapy and radiation. The patient came for treatments one year following western treatment and intervention in order to recouperate and address side effects of treatment.
2. Signs and Symptoms: In addition to patient's main symptom of vaginal bleeding, she also has a history of bleeding and bruising easily. She has irritable bowel syndrome and colitis manifesting in frequent (5-6 times each morning) loose and watery stools. In addition, patient has hemorrhoids. Patient has significant edema and weight gain. Since her chemotherapy and radiation, patient has experienced high blood pressure, with frequent malar flushing (2-3 times per day, accompanied by sweat on her forehead), and tinnitus. She also has cramping in the lateral aspect of her legs (ST channel) and drooping of the corner of her mouth at ST 4. She wakes one time per night to urinate. She also has a family history of migraines. Dry skin and skin sensitivity have resulted from her cancer treatments. Her pulse was deep and slippery, with a very weak chi position. Her tongue was pale, short, puffy and scalloped with some cracking in the center and anterior one-third. Since her cancer treatments, patient has been getting colds every 2-3 weeks.
3. Diagnosis: Spleen and Kidney deficiency with dampness.
a. Acupuncture: LV 1, KI 3, ST 36, ST 25, SP 9, SJ 4
b. Herbs: patient was unwilling to take herbs
less BM- turning more solid
J has been a nail biter every since he can remember. Now 34 years old, he has been a slave to this habit for three decades. Upon inspection, his nails are chewed down half way to the root and have prominent vertical ridges. His past medical history is “insignificant” except for having his gall bladder removed at age 26 at the recommendation of his doctor due to a blocked duct resulting in 2 severe gall bladder attacks.
J has a high stress job in the financial industry which he believes is taking a toll on his health. He suffers from fatigue and difficulty sleeping in which he feels fidgety for most of the night. While he is generally a mild mannered person, he admits to suppressing difficult personal and emotional issues. He suffers from headaches which are localized to the lateral aspect of the eye at the acupuncture point Gall Bladder 1. Floaters are confirmed in his left eye. He has constant nasal congestion with yellow discharge.
His tongue is deep red, thick, tender with severely deep cracks throughout (horizontal and vertical). His tongue is slightly quivering and dry with a slight patch of dry yellow fur on the left side of the root. His pulse is irregular with variations in the rate, markedly thin and forceless with wide changes in intensity on the left side. The right side is tight and slippery with a reduced pounding quality.
J was diagnosed with extreme exhaustion of his heart and liver yin and blood, complicated by kidney yin and yang deficiency, and liver qi stagnation (with excess heat damaging the yin) and spleen qi deficiency. His main symptom of nail biting can be seen as a defense mechanism by which he subconsciously attempts to stimulate the liver to produce more blood and invigorate qi. The nails, in Chinese medicine, is seen as the outward representation of the liver. Suppression of emotions causes a bottling of liver energies causing a wide array of symptoms (anxiety, stress, frustration, irritability, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, headaches). By biting the nails, the liver is called into action. It serves as a kickstart for the liver to activate its dominion over the qi circulation dynamic.
Often times, a deficiency in an organ will lead to an apparent excess in its interiorly-exteriorly related pair. Here the gall bladder evidences signs of excess (gall stones, headaches at GB 1). The heart will also receive the heat being created from the liver stagnation causing restlessness with sleep and arrhythmias. The lungs are able to become excessive across the control cycle and chronic nasal congestion results. This is contributed to by the spleen’s increased demand to produce blood and provide nourishment to this chronically depleted individual. This increased workload further damages the spleen and produces the dampness which gets stored in the lungs as phlegm and nasal congestion. Because this process is one which has spanned decades, the kidneys are implicated as a possible root and are further depleted in the process.
In this case, there are many factors at play, but I present it to demonstrate how even such a common habit of nail biting can be a very relevant fact/symptom in the diagnosis and treatment of complex health patterns. Also, to show the body's infinite defensive mechanisms in attempting to heal itself.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
His incredible skill with the intricacies of urine diagnosis, reading pulses and palpation were, actually, the least remarkable of what makes Rinpoche a true healer. His presence, loving-kindness and compassion radiates through His being, and despite the communication difficulties through an interpreter, the direction of his attention and the purity of His heart make one instantly grateful and sparks the transformative process of healing.
His presence was a beautiful reminder that what truly makes a healer is not simply one's medical knowledge or techniques (of which Rinpoche possesses in unique abundance), but rather one's cultivation.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
"A human being is a part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty...." Albert Einstein
Thursday, April 5, 2007
One of the best ways to cleanse the entire lymphatic system is by brushing the surface of the body with a soft dry brush made of natural vegetable bristles. The traditional Chinese version of this method uses the dried fibres of a gourd fruit called 'silk squash', known as loofah in the West, but natural-bristle brushes have proven to be far more effective. The brush should have a long handle, soft natural bristles, and always be kept dry.
Dry skin brushing stimulates the lymph canals to drain toxic mucoid matter into the colon, thereby purifying the entire lymphatic system. This enables lymph to perform its house-cleaning duties by keeping the blood and other vital tissues detoxified. Most people today have chronically toxic lymph fluids and swollen lymph nodes, a condition which promotes toxicity throughout the system by robbing lymph of its power to clean the blood and cellular fluids. In addition, skin brushing is highly stimulating to surface circulation of blood and leaves you feeling invigorated.
Skin brushing need be performed only once a day preferably first thing in the morning, and it takes only a couple of minutes. If you're feeling sluggish, toxic, or ill, you may want to do it twice a day. The body should be dry and naked, and the brush should be swept once or twice in the same direction across every surface of the body except the face. Do not scrub, massage, or rotate the brush on the body; just sweep it across the skin in long smooth strokes in the general direction of the colon. Brush up the arms from the hands to the shoulders, up the legs from feet to hips, down the back and torso, up the buttocks, down the neck, and across the shoulders. After a few days, you may notice a gelatinous mucoid material in your stools: that's toxic lymph that has drained into your colon owing to skin brushing.
For a thorough lymphatic cleansing, perform skin brushing daily for about three months. Thereafter, twice a week is sufficient to keep you lymph quite clean, but you should resume your daily brushing whenever you're feeling ill.
Sunday, April 1, 2007
1. Contentment: appreciating what one has, not yearning for what one has yet to possess.
2. Rejoicing: sharing in other people's happiness, not feeling pride or envy.
3. Forgiveness: forgiving and apologizing at the right time can heal rifts and provide peace, respect and mutual understanding.
4. Having a Good Heart: (the most important of the 5) having an insight into the true view of reality that happiness comes from loving-kindness and compassion, not hate, close-mindedness or craving. This true view is that things do not possess any solid existence despite the impression they seem real and solid. They are simply impressions occurring as the result of prior causes and conditions.
5. Mindfulness: keeping our minds clear and calm and aware of each moment and attempting to improve ourselves.