Cancer is rapidly becoming the number one cause of death in the human population. It is not a single disease, but is actually 100's of diseases arising from different tissues throughout the body and bearing characteristics unique to each individual. The most common question I hear with regard to cancer is, "do you think there will ever be a cure for cancer?". The answer is not so simple... With cancer representing hundreds, if not thousands of diseases, finding a "cure" is not an easy task. One of the tenets of cancer, and a large part of what it makes it so difficult to treat in many cases, is its ability to adapt. Just like all living systems, when confronted with a strong environmental challenge, cancer evolves, it mutates, and it takes advantage of any natural system that is available in order to survive. This is why so many modern treatments fail. A chemotherapy, or a targeted agent (TKI or MAB) has a specific "target". What often happens is that because cancer cell populations are not homogenous, (that is, there are cells bearing different genetics within a given tumor) the oncological therapy destroys the cell population that is susceptible to its action, but some other population(s) within the tumor survive and grow - unaffected by the intervention. This new population is resistant to the original therapy, and finding a way to target the new population can be very difficult. Plants and plant compounds are extremely valuable in this context because thet do not target a single pathway, or receptor - rather, they affect many pathways, and modulate activity. 

At the cultural level, our greatest and most influential work can be done in the field of preventive medicine, where diet, lifestyle, minimization of exposures to toxins, etc, can be very influential on outcomes. However, once a 2 millimeter malignant lump or bump is discovered, there are already billions of cancer cells present in the tumor, and the disease itself has already generated significant momentum. 


Traditional Chinese Medicine and Cancer Care

TCM doctors have been treating cancer for as long as the disease has been around. TCM treatments include the use of specific botanical formulas, nutrition, dietary and lifestyle interventions, and additional TCM therapeutics. In the modern onological setting, cancer treatment is based on biomedical assessment with lab work, scans, pathology reports, and genetic testing. The treatment consists of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and/or targeted agents. In many cases, a collaborative approach is the most beneficial one, where TCM and modern biomedicine assessments and treatments are interwoven into a well orchestrated, comprehensive protocol. In this setting, TCM therapeutics are often utilized for the prevention of drug side effects, the maintenance of the healthy cells in the body, and for helping to make biomedical treatments more effective through herb/drug synergy.



Combining Traditional Chinese Medicine and Modern Medicine in the Treatment of Cancer: Clinical Pearls

Prostate Health:

Nearly all men in the course of their lifetimes will experience a health issue relating to the prostate, and although prostate cancer (PC) is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in US men, most men die with the disease, rather than of it. Although I work with many types of cancer, I have been working with a large number of men with prostate cancer for the past 9 years, and I have several patients who are doing remarkably well using an integrative protocol combining plants, nutrition, diet, and lifestyle, and sometimes a low dose of a pharmaceutical agent called Avodart. One of the primary fuel sources driving prostate cancer progression is a hormone metabolite called dihydrotestoserone, or DHT. DHT is a product of the breakdown of testosterone by an enzyme called 5 alpha reductase. This enzyme is the target of several of the key nutrients and botanical compounds that I work with, and is also the target of the drug Avodart (Dutasteride). When indicated, I will recommend that a patient speak with their urologist or primary care doctor about getting a prescription for avodart as a part of an intergative protocol.

The prostate gland gets larger in most men as they age, and most men if they live long enough, will experience some form of prostate disorder. BPH and PC share similar etiologies. Both are often characterized by dysfunction of the 5 alpha reductase enzyme system, and subsequently elevated dihydrotestosterone, low relative free testosterone, and elevated estrogen levels. There are, additionally, many pathophysiological mechanisms contributing to these and other changes associated with PC and BPH. These include inflammation, oxidative damage, hypercoagulation, elevated homocysteine and methylation defects, lipid imbalances, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and enzyme system dysfunction leading to hormonal imbalance. PC further involves the growth pathways associated with proliferation, tumor progression, and angiogenesis.

A thorough prostate health protocol is designed to address any relevant constitutional factors, supply key nutrition, reduce oxidative damage and inflammation, modulate important enzyme systems, improve hormone efficiency, and inhibit proliferation and tumorigenesis. A tailored combination of formulas balances the endocrine system as a whole, while simultaneously targeting the known pathway disruptions associated with PC and BPH.