Cancer After-care Holistic Retreats
Founder of AgelessHerbs.com, Dr. Catherine Browne, offers week long retreats at her organic herb farm in the foothills of North Carolina for those who have completed conventional cancer treatments. Participants enjoy a pastoral healing setting while receiving holistic care intended to increase survivorship rates and quality of life.
The retreats are designed to:
We help people regain their equilibrium and energy so that they can go on to enjoy the purpose-driven vital life they were meant to.
Chinese medicine uses herbs, acupuncture, food therapy, and Qi Gong exercises to treat the imbalances that lead to cancer. There are three specific diagnostic similarities with a majority of cancer patients, but this is a generalized summary of cancers that can occur according to Chinese medicine:
A Yin-Yang imbalance develops in the body. This can occur in one organ system, or more commonly will involve several organ systems.
As the imbalance worsens, Qi and Blood are depleted and begin to stagnate.
The communication and cooperation among the organs breaks down and the Wei Qi becomes impeded, the endocrine system malfunctions, and the adaptive qualities of the body deteriorate.
The following patterns of imbalance are common with cancer patients according to Chinese medicine:
- Qi Deficiency and Cancer
- Qi is generally thought of as the vital force within our bodies. There must be abundant
- Qi to maintain health in each organ system and for the Wei Qi to function properly. Spleen Qi is vital to prevent an accumulation of Damp nodules and accumulations in the body. Cancer tumors are often described as a Blood Stagnation and Damp Phlegm Accumulation.
Liver Qi Stagnation and Cancer
The Liver is responsible for the movement of Qi in the body, and Liver Qi Stagnation is often involved in cancer. Toxins often accumulate in the Liver producing heat and stagnation. It is understood in Chinese medicine that where Qi goes Blood follows, so Blood Stagnation would have an element of Qi Stagnation.
Blood Stagnation and Deficiency and Cancer
Blood is Yin in nature and requires Qi to circulate correctly, thus, they are interdependent. Chemotherapy consumes Blood and Yin, and patients who have undergone these therapies benefit from intensive herbal tonic therapy focused on rebuilding Blood and Yin. Additionally, tumors are considered to be stagnant Blood accumulations, and blood-movers are vital in treating cancer.
Yin-Yang Imbalances in Cancer-Hot Flashes
Hot flashes are an indication of Yin Deficiency in Chinese medicine. Traditional Chinese Medical Theory dictates that all of the energies in the body must be balanced relative to one another in order for there to be good health and vitality. Therefore, the Yin (substance) must be balanced with the Yang (energy), the organs must harmoniously work in unison, and the emotions (Shen) must be stable. Chinese medicine balances Yin and Yang and can also build these qualities in the body when they are deficient. Initially, a patient may be Yang or Qi deficient leading to the imbalance at the onset of cancer. However, after radiation or chemotherapy, the Yin deficiency and Blood deficiency have to be addressed for a sustainable recovery. Some of the signs that cancer patients often experience after chemotherapy are classic Yin and Blood deficiency symptoms such as dry skin and afternoon and evening sweats. Toxins accumulating in the body due to chemotherapy would manifest as Heat, and would consume Yin.
Wei Qi Impeded and Cancer
Chinese medicine has recognized the immune system for thousands of years and has assigned herbs that strengthen the immune system, or Wei Qi. The general concept is that the Wei Qi must remain strong to protect the body against pathogens and disease, and that the body can only contract these diseases when the Wei Qi is weak. Many westerners have adopted this philosophy, knowing that they are constantly exposed to viruses, but only catching a cold or developing a cold sore when they are run down. Likewise, our bodies always contain cancer cells, it is only when our bodies fall out of balance and our Wei Qi becomes depleted that cancer grows unchecked.
Ancesteral Qi and Cancer
Chinese medicine has recognized the role of genetics and the development of disease for thousands of years. Familial isssues are always taken in to consideration with treatment protocols and are even addressed with preventative actions before cancer due to genetics develop. TCM practitioners understand that just because a person has a genetic disposition to developing a disease they must have imbalances in the body for the disease to actually manifest.
Toxins and Cancer
Toxins and foreign substances in our tissue can lead to premature aging, disease, pain, and are often suspected as attributing to cancer. Pesticides are especially troublesome in the case of cancer since they are able to mimic hormones and miscommunication from a malfunctioning endocrine system is said to contribute to the onset of cancer.
Patterns Associated with Different Types of Cancer
Lymphatic Cancer Support
The lymphatic system consists of a myriad of delicate vessels found in almost every tissue of the body containing blood vessels. These vessels perform essential functions including the removal of waste products from cellular metabolism. The proper function of the lymphatic system is vital for proper immune system performance. This vital system is often overlooked in detoxification programs. The lymphatic system is often referred to as the ‘back alleyway’ for trash removal of the body. Because the lymphatic system can become overwhelmed with toxins and the lymph stops draining effectively, the lymph nodes are common sites of cancer tumors.
Breast Cancer Support
Breast cancer responds to all of the typical herbs used for cancer, however, breast cancer has some unique patterns of its own. For one thing, the Spleen Channel runs through the breast area, and maintaining the free and abundant flow of Qi through the Spleen channel benefits breast health. Additionally, herbs mentioned above for lymphatic drainage help to maintain breast health.
Liver Cancer Support
The liver is actually considered a gland, and performs a large number of vital tasks including storing liver-detox-plaster.pngvitamins, producing cholesterol, and synthesizing fatty acids from sugars and amino acids. As a detoxifying organ, the liver dilutes toxic substances such as metabolic waste, pesticides, and alcohol, with less toxic substances before sending them to be excreted from the kidneys.
Large Intestine Cancer Support
This obvious route of elimination for toxins is well recognized and appreciated. large-intestine-damp-heatMaintaining a healthy colon and regular bowel movements is necessary for toxin elimination of the whole body, but accumulations can occur in the bowels when there is insufficient Qi and/or Blood to move the bowels.
Prostate Cancer Support
It is beneficial to include herbs that remove Liver Qi Stagnation with prostate issues. The Liver Channel runs through the groin area and stagnation in the channel is often seen in cases of prostate cancer. Saw palmetto berry may be a beneficial botanical for someone with prostate cancer as it is known to reduce the size of the prostate, which will also reduce stagnation and accumulations; it can be found at any local health food store.
Cancer and the Mind
Chinese medicine is a system that recognizes the connection between the body, thestress-adaptogen-herbal mind, and the spirit. The best outcome with cancer, like all illnesses, depends on a re-evaluation and adjustments to all aspects of our being. In addition to improving the diet and utilizing beneficial supplements for the body, cancer survivors must clear underlying emotional imbalances and must feed the Spirit, or Shen. Meditation, flower essence remedies, traditional counseling, support groups, and stress reduction techniques.
Diet and Cancer
Seeking out nourishing organic foods is critical in the prevention and recovery from cancer. Pesticides can mimic hormones in the body and activate hormone receptor sites throughout the body. Many people associate hormones with sexual function, but hormones play a much larger role in our bodies acting as free flowing communication tools. There are numerous cancers associated with miscommunication throughout the endocrine system resulting in unchecked growth of cells.
For the body to be truly well it must be nourished; therefore a diet filled with whole organic foods must be adopted to avoid or recover from cancer. Many herbs, fruits, and vegetables contain antioxidants that counter free radical damage in the body and help to fight cancer, so choose a varied diet rich in many colors for the best results.
Exercise and Cancer
It has become well established that a sedentary lifestyle as well as obesity lead to higher rates of cancer. A simple brisk walk is able to move lymph fluids that drain toxins from our tissues, and break up Liver Qi Stagnation which is an underlying imbalance in many cancer conditions. Tai Qi and Yoga help to build Qi in the body, remove stagnation in the body, and reduce stress.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine for Cancer Support
There have been many advances in the early detection and treatment of cancer. While the standard medical care for cancer is effective, the treatments are aggressive and cause numerous unwanted side effects as well as a lowered immune system. Acupuncture has received much attention as an adjunctive therapy in cancer treatments for its use in pain relief, reducing side effects, accelerating recovery and improving quality of life.
Acupuncture provides a total approach to health care for people with cancer. It can be used to address many of the concerns that come up during and after chemotherapy, radiation, biological therapy and surgery. According to the National Cancer Institute, acupuncture may cause physical responses in nerve cells, the pituitary gland, and parts of the brain. These responses can cause the body to release proteins, hormones, and brain chemicals that control a number of body functions. It is proposed that, by these actions, acupuncture can affect blood pressure and body temperature, boosts immune system activity, and causes the body's natural painkillers, such as endorphins, to be released.
Areas that Acupuncture has shown the most promise include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dry mouth, night sweats and hot flashes
- Stress, anxiety, and fatigue
- Pain management
- Increasing white blood cell count
Nausea and vomiting - The strongest evidence of the effect of acupuncture has come from clinical trials on the use of Acupuncture to relieve nausea and vomiting. Several types of clinical trials using different acupuncture methods showed acupuncture reduced nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, surgery, and morning sickness. It appears to be more effective in preventing vomiting than in reducing nausea.
Other symptoms caused by cancer treatment - Clinical trials are studying the effects of acupuncture on cancer and symptoms caused by cancer treatment, including weight loss, cough, chest pain, fever, anxiety, depression, night sweats, hot flashes, dry mouth, speech problems, and fluid in the arms or legs. Studies have shown that, for many patients, treatment with acupuncture either relieves symptoms or keeps them from getting worse.