Traditional Chinese medicine eases chemotherapy side effects



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April 21, 2007  
Filed under Uncategorized



Earth TimesTraditional Chinese medicine could help ease the side effects of chemotheraphy for cancer patients, according to a study carried out by researchers in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China, media reports said Saturday.

“A chemotherapy regimen can last a few months and many patients experience nausea, vomiting and fatigue,” The Business Times quoted Dr Tony Mok Shu Kam, professor of clinical oncology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, as saying. “For some people, it can get quite bad.”

Chemotherapy involves chemical agents to stop cancer cells from growing and is widely used in treatments.

Mok, who will speak on Sunday at British medical journal Lancet’s forum in Singapore, said the latest study involved breast and colon cancer patients.

“All the selected patients were seen not only by an oncologist but by a traditional herbalist, who then prescribed an individualized herbal recipe,” Mok told the newspaper.

Depending on a code known only to the pharmacist, the patient received either the recipe or a placebo, Mok said. The study successfully demonstrated that herbal remedies can help ease the side effects.

Mok’s study is the latest in a wave of herbal medical research triggered in China in the mid-1990s with the appearance of Kanglaite, a drug containing a herbal extract which is China’s top-selling cancer treatment, the report said. It’s use has not been approved outside the country.

Mok cautioned that traditional Chinese medicine alone cannot effectively treat cancer and should not be used as a primary mode of treatment. Herbal remedies play an auxiliary role by helping to relieve symptoms associated with treatments.

“While it is true many herbs may have anti-cancer properties, that’s not the same as saying these herbs can cure or treat cancer,” Mok told the newspaper.

What is needed are high-quality clinical trials on traditional medicine, Mok stressed.