Sixty percent of women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer experience a range of short-term side effects. These include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, gut lining inflammation, decreased number of red and white blood cells, and decreased number of blood platelets. Using Chinese herbs and acupuncture alone or in conjunction with chemotherapy may help protect a breast cancer patient’s bone marrow and immune system.
Recommended to counteract chemotherapy side effects, Chinese medicinal herbs include mixtures of herbal compounds or herbal extracts. A recent Cochrane Systematic Review set out to determine if evidence indicated that the herbal medicines are effective. The researchers identified seven studies involving 542 breast cancer patients. In three studies, women given Chinese herbal remedies saw a noticeable improvement in their number of white blood cells-a key element of the immune system. Two of the studies indicated herbal compounds appeared to have a general positive effect on quality of life.
By analyzing the data, the team concluded that the Chinese medicinal herbal treatment might reduce side effects. “Western physicians not trained in traditional Chinese medicine or the use of Chinese medicinal herbs should not dismiss these approaches as being without theory or clinical basis, and should likewise support further studies in the field,” the researchers concluded.
In addition to Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture can strengthen a weakened immune system by increasing red and white cell counts and T-cell count. Acupuncture also enhances humoral and cellular immunity in patients with immune-related illness. Immunity related disorders include cancer, allergies, asthma, chronic fatigue, hepatitis, colds, AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, and immune deficiency syndrome.
Acupuncture can reduce symptoms, speed up healing and normalize the body’s immune response. By stimulating specific portions of the autonomic nervous system through selected acupoints, acupuncture can regulate immune function. For information about Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture for health and well being contact Dr. Richard Browne at (305) 595-9500.