Therapeutic Effects of Commonly Used Chinese Medicine for Cancer Treatment

By Ruth Riley /

Therapeutic Effects of Commonly Used Chinese Medicine for Cancer Treatment

Care Consideration: Just a reminder that the above below is not a substitute for medical care and is not a substitute for medical advice or recommendations from a healthcare provider.  This information is not intended to treat, mitigate or cure any disease.  That said, we encourage you to connect with an Acupuncturist in your community to learn more about this and other Traditional Chinese Medicine options.  If you’ve got questions about Chinese herbal medicine or getting started with an Acupuncturist, feel free to connect with us on hello@mydaolabs.com

For thousands of years, Traditional Chinese Medicine theory has been practiced as a way to manage illnesses and, at present, is widely accepted as an alternative cancer treatment.

What are the therapeutic effects of popular Chinese medicine? Can these medications be used as an alternative treatment for individuals with cancer?
This article offers insights into traditional Chinese medicine and how it can be used as an alternative treatment for many diseases, including rare cancers like mesothelioma. This article also lists some of the typical Chinese medicine used for cancer treatment available in the market.

Chinese Medicines and Their Effects on Cancer

Chinese medicine comprises various practices still being studied by Western medicine. These practices include acupuncture, massage, cupping, and herbal remedies.

In the case of herbal alternatives, numerous herbs are used in Chinese medicine. Many of these plants may potentially have therapeutic effects against cancer. Some of these Chinese herbs are:

Astragalus

This medicinal plant may have potential anticancer effects against colon, gastric, hepatic, and ovarian cancer cells.  Astragalus, which goes by the scientific name Astragalus membranaceus, has a long history in Traditional Chinese Medicine and has been used as a tonic with other herbs to help increase strength, stamina, and vitality.  Individuals with cancer may also use this herb to help manage cancer-related fatigue and reduce nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy.

Ban Zhi Lian

This perennial herb has potential antioxidant, antitumor, and anticancer properties.  One study showed that this herb, also called Scutellaria barbata D. Don, may have an inhibitory effect on the migration of ovarian cancer cells. This finding suggests a potential application of this herb in ovarian cancer therapy.

Angelica Sinensis

One study showed that angelica sinensis, also called dang gui in Chinese, may have an anti-tumorigenic effect in various cancer cells.  This herb contains N-butylidenephthalide, which may help suppress the migration and invasion of bladder cancer cells and inhibit the growth of these cells.

Jiang Huang

This herb contains curcumin, often used as a spice and pigment. Jiang huang, also called turmeric, is a therapeutic agent that may help with cancers and chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease Studies also show that curcumin may have a potential application in helping reduce colon, liver, breast, and prostate cancer stem cells.

Ling Zhi

This Chinese medicine is a fungus known as ganoderma. Individuals can take ling zhi as a single drug, food, or tonic drink.  One study mentioned that the triterpenoids in ling zhi might help decrease the proliferation of lung cancer cells. The results suggest that this traditional herbal remedy may be a potential candidate for lung cancer treatment.

Licorice

Gan cao, also called licorice, has had a clinical history of more than 2,000 years as an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, and antiviral remedy.  Licorice and its derivatives may help protect against carcinogenic damage to the cell DNA. Licorice contains polyphenols that help induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells.

Rare Types of Cancer

Some cancers are so rare that a relatively small number of individuals get diagnosed with these diseases yearly. Little information about these cancers usually comes from clinical trials or the doctor’s experiences diagnosing and treating people with these illnesses.

Because not many individuals have these rare cancers, there may not be a lot of clinical studies or sample data to form a concrete conclusion about potential treatments. Information about rare cancers usually only comes from case studies containing the experiences of one or more patients so doctors can learn more about the disease.

Chinese medicine is predominantly based on nature and traditional or herbal medicine. Rare cancers like mesothelioma are among the recipients of many alternative medicines in conjunction with prescription medication.
Many continue to use herbal medicine to help manage the various mesothelioma stages, especially in managing pain and maintaining one’s quality of life despite having cancer.

Researchers looking for ways on how Chinese medicine can help manage cancer should also look into the following rare cancer types:

  • Choroid plexus tumor: A rare form of brain and spinal cord tumor that usually occurs in children
  • Clear cell sarcoma: Also called clear cell sarcoma of the kidney (CCSK), this condition is a soft tissue sarcoma (a broad group of cancers in the bone and soft tissues) and rare kidney cancer in children
  • Craniopharyngioma: This rare brain tumor occurs in adults or children
  • Cardiac angiosarcoma: Also called heart cancer, this disease is a sarcoma that starts from the heart’s muscles or blood vessels
  • Malignant rhabdoid tumor of the kidney: This rare type of kidney cancer occurs most often in children
  • Medulloepithelioma: This disease is a rare eye cancer that often manifests in children
  • Mesothelioma: Rare cancer developing in the mesothelium (the thin tissue layer covering most internal organs). Pleural mesothelioma is a common form of this disease and occurs in the tissue lining the lungs
  • Myoepithelial carcinoma: Rare cancer that affects the salivary glands
  • Parathyroid cancer: A type of cancer that starts in the parathyroid glands (found at the bottom of the neck, behind the thyroid gland)
  • Sarcomatoid carcinoma (carcinosarcoma): A cancer type that happens in the lungs or other body parts
  • Verrucous carcinoma: A rare cancer form that often starts in the mouth but can also occur on the penis, vulva, or other body parts

Although Chinese medicine has a rich history of medical applications, consulting a doctor or oncologist is still the best way to learn how these treatments can help manage cancer.

References

  1. Traditional Chinese medicine as a cancer treatment: Modern perspectives of ancient but advanced science

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6536969/

  1. Astragalus: Purported Benefits, Side Effects & More

https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/astragalus

  1. Therapeutic Effects of Ten Commonly Used Chinese Herbs and Their Bioactive Compounds on Cancers

https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/6057837

  1. Anti-tumor effect of Scutellaria barbata D. Don extracts on ovarian cancer and its phytochemicals characterisation

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378874117316136?via%3Dihub

  1. Potential therapeutic effects of N-butylidenephthalide from Radix Angelica Sinensis (Danggui) in human bladder cancer cells

https://bmccomplementmedtherapies.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12906-017-2034-3

  1. Antiproliferative Effects of a Triterpene-Enriched Extract from Lingzhi or Reishi Medicinal Mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum (Agaricomycetes), on Human Lung Cancer Cells

https://www.dl.begellhouse.com/journals/708ae68d64b17c52,2c6ab3993645ca9e,46d5c1db7e0fb06f.html

  1. Licorice and cancer

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11588889/

  1. Mesothelioma

https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/mesothelioma

Care Consideration: Just a reminder that the above information is not a substitute for medical care and is not a substitute for medical advice or recommendations  from a healthcare provider.  This information is not intended to treat, mitigate or cure any disease.  That said, we encourage you to connect with an Acupuncturist in your community to learn more about this and other Traditional Chinese Medicine options.  If you’ve got questions about Chinese herbal medicine or getting started with an Acupuncturist, feel free to connect with us on hello@mydaolabs.com

Ruth Riley is an educator and writer. She teaches linguistics to college students and also conducts studies about alternative therapies.

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