Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Traditional Chinese Medicine : Cancer Pathology

TCM has unique theories that explain the origin and development of disease. When diagnosing complex conditions, TCM often distinguishes between the root and branch of a disorder. The root refers to the underlying cause. The branch develops from the root, and is commonly the most obvious manifestation of the disorder. For example, according to TCM, a root cause of cancer is long standing qi deficiency or yang deficiency. In other words, the body lacks enough energy to sufficiently carry out its functions.

After prolonged qi or yang deficiency, excess syndromes may develop. In this situation, there is insufficient energy to permit the free flow of blood, bodyfluids, and energy itself. As a result, these substances tend to build up, forming a local mass or excess in a particular organ or structure. In TCM, this excess is regarded as the branch. However, both benign and malignant tumors follow this pattern.

Malignant tumors are further complicated by the development of what is referred to as toxic heat. Toxic heat can be thought of as a severe inflammation, a raging fire that consumes the body’s vital resources. When blood and bodyfluids stagnate into a mass, energy builds up much like a traffic jam. Eventually the energy build up transforms into fire.

According to TCM, the foremost challenge of treating cancer is that treatments addressing the branch often aggravate the root. Conversely, treatments directed at the root will aggravate the branch. Therefore, a skilled practitioner, knowledgeable in diagnosis and treatment using herbal formulas is essential to address both the root and the branch of a disorder in appropriate sequences.