TCM Oncology

Complementary Cancer Immuno Therapy Program

The evidence that acupuncture is beneficial during cancer treatment continues to mount. Empirically, cancer patients who also receive acupuncture and botanical medicine therapy give it very high marks as a great help in recovering their health and maintaining a higher quality of life. In my experience working with cancer patients over the last 16 years I have found that this self-selected group of people generally tend to have better medical outcomes than the conventional therapy-only group. Furthermore, research continues to highlight this point.

I was taught how to help cancer patients going through chemotherapy, radiation and post surgery at the New England School of Acupuncture (and how to successfully utilized Electro Acupuncture to reduce cancer pain, thus reducing the need for pain meds. Then our focus was to reduce inflammation and pain, to treat nausea and other gastrointestinal disruptions associated with chemotherapy and to reduce the pain and discomfort associated with peripheral neuropathy. During my training with Chinese master Tomas Tam, I learned other techniques to actually help the patient fight the cancer. I have found that Qigong practice, meditation-visualization and Tong Ren therapy are very useful and have had patients with severe cancers benefit tremendously with them. The concept of the “blockage” is also very important in the Tom Tam Healing system; as is the need to safely detoxify the body immediately post Chemotherapy and radiation – or once the conventional treatments come to an end.

The Sifre Center Acupuncture Oncology program is focused on applying a complementary approach to conventional cancer treatment to help improve the overall outcome. Our job is to share with our patients the medical wisdom of the East while supporting their healing, as well as their course of Western medicine treatments. The traditional Chinese medicine view is that when the Qi is low or blocked, the cells are not getting the appropriate bio-electrical nutrition they need. As a result the power of your “battery”, the self healing mechanism all living beings have, is compromised.
Our clinical outcomes show that this program helps our patients and safely complements conventional cancer treatment in three main areas: (1) managing potential side effects of chemotherapy and radiation; (2) curtailing pain; and (3) reducing psychological stress. Furthermore, we believe that this approach may help improve the immune system and the overall healing response, including the response to conventional treatment. A sample of case studies is provided at the bottom of the page.
(1) The first component of this program utilizes advanced acupuncture oncology. Managed through a combination of corporal treatments (i.e., acupuncture and related modalities – such as Cupping therapy and Tui Na massage); and when appropriate, traditional, pharmaceutical-grade, Chinese herbal medicines (both Chinese anti-cancer and immune fortification medicinals).
(2) For those who appreciate and may enjoy practices that can do for yourself, we help you learn and practice the “internal” energy systems intended to unblock and increase the flow of energy: Qigong meditation, Tai Chi Chuan, External Qigong, Intentionality and Tong Ren therapy. These are thought to work at different levels. It is our belief that, like acupuncture, these enhance the cell immunity. Our clinical experience shows a positive association between these practices and higher levels of health.
(3) We also help people develop and use other methods that may be useful such as, guided imagery and visualization to tap into the vast potential and inner intelligence of the human mind.
(4) The fourth component of this program (when necessary and appropriate) is the use of endorphine-dependent, electro acupuncture analgesia to manage CA pain. This is a technique mastered in China during the later part of the 20th century and it is very well researched and replicable. It is based on neuro-physiological mechanisms (Central and Peripheral Nervous System(s) pathways) and is not associated with the classical mechanism of acupuncture (postulated to be the flow of Qi through the meridian channel system (Jing Luo)). This can be a very important pain management tool. It may provide full analgesia for extended periods of time. It may also reduce the need for opioids and other pain medications.

Patients engaged in our treatment program have a better treatment process and in areas such as pain management (reducing pain and utilization of pain medication), reducing depression and anxiety, emesis, fatigue and other side effects of radiation and chemo therapies and helping to maintain good blood and immune profiles. Also we are seeing positive effects on the immune system response, as well as better results in patients who not only receive treatment but learn and engage in methods to improve their health and wellbeing.

Case Study Examples:

Case in Point: 76 year-old white female with stage 3 ovarian cancer is seen post surgery to receive complementary treatment concurrent with oncologic treatment. Through conventional therapy patient is able to tolerate treatment very well with little or no side effects. Blood markers remain stable. Post conventional treatment surveillance shows very low tumor markers and imaging uncovers no evidence of recurrent masses or spread. Patient remains in good spirits and vitality throughout, having experienced only minor difficulties with conventional CA therapy.

Case in Point: 45 year-old white female with malignant mass in upper lobe of right lung measuring 3.5 centimeters. Working with her oncologist and surgeon the patient engaged in our program for 12 weeks before conventional treatment began. This person was treated with a combination of acupuncture, classical Chinese herbal- and immunological agents, Qigong practice and dietary adjustments. Post treatment, pre-surgery imaging showed a substantial reduction in the size of the mass to a size of 1.2 cms at time of surgery. Tissue samples were clear and no further treatment was recommended. Continued post-surgery imaging surveillance has detected no recurrence in over two years.

Case in Point: 65 year-old white male with pancreatic cancer comes to see us for help with chronic abdominal pain, no appetite, diarrhea and ascites due to metastatic, end-stage cancer. The patient is hoping for some improvement in the quality of life. The patient is wearing morphine patches but nevertheless reports a very high pain level between 9 and 10 on a VAS scale. Within eight sessions of advanced acupuncture oncology and major herbal medicine the patient’s pain, measured on a Visual Analogue Scale goes from 9-10 level to between 2-5, there is considerable improvements in appetite, quality of bowel movement and significant reduction of fluid retention in abdominal cavity. There is a major reduction in the need for opioids. Energy and vitality increase and the patient survives under these more favorable quality of life conditions for 14 months.