NOTE: SOME DETAILS CHANGED TO PROTECT PATIENT IDENTITY
Though Traditional Chinese Medicine is roughly 5000 years old, it has a lot it can offer patients who have cancer. In this case history, we will look at a patient who benefited greatly from some basic acupuncture, herbs, and moxibustion. This patient’s story is a really great example.
The patient, whom we will call Mr. C, had been in remission for some 2 years but was still getting chemotherapy twice a year. At that point, the patient was diagnosed with a bladder infection, and shortly after that, he contracted an intestinal infection known as c. diff, which can be life threatening. Additionally, he was informed that the cancer had returned and would need to begin undergoing regular scheduled chemo treatments as well as a new treatment of rituxin. By the time the proverbial smoke had cleared and the infections had resolved, the patient was quite “wiped out”. Furthermore, Mr C also suffered from loose stool (a side effect of chemo), weakness of the legs, and a general malaise and lack of his normal mental vibrancy.
How did we go about helping Mr C regain vitality, improved digestion, improved recovery time after chemo, and increased zest for life? We carried out what, in traditional Chinese Medicine, is referred to as ‘fu zheng therapy. The term means support the normal. Simply put, this means strengthening the normal functions of the body so that it can withstand the chemo and other treatments. Another way to think about it is that therapy is used to reduce side effects of the cancer treatmenent.
As was mentioned previously, Mr. C’s side effects included fatigue, weakness of the legs, unsteady gait/dizziness, loose stools, somewhat depressed affect and feeling cold. In fact, the abdomen and arms and legs on Mr. C were ice cold to the touch. Real improvement was made within even the first week. While acupuncture was used, the biggest contributors were moxibustion and herbal therapy. Moxibustion is a type of ancient heat therapy where a specific herb is burned safely and comfortably over certain acupuncture points to strengthen the body and is particularly indicated in cases such as this, where the body is very cold to the touch, significant fatigue is present, and the pulse is deep and forceless at the radial artery.
An herbal formula, known in Chinese as Shen Ling Bai zhu San was given. The herb formula immediately began to improve digestion and improve bowel movements so that they were no longer loose. Energy levels also began to improve within about a week. Additionally, after 3 treatments of moxibustion, the abdomen was no longer ice cold, but only very mildly cold, and the limbs also felt warmer to the touch. The radial pulse was improved, though not entirely. As of this writing, the patient has reported that he finally feels like his old self, with an enthusiasm for life returning. While no one can predict the future, we plan to keep helping Mr C, doing what we can, to feel the best he can feel under these difficult circumstances. Seeing him smiling and animated again is very satisfying
If you or a loved one is undergoing chemo or other conventional cancer treatments, it may be worth looking into complementary treatments to help improve quality of life and potentially have an even deeper positive impact. Always discuss these matters with your physician before trying anything new.