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Curr Oncol. 2008 Jan;15(1):42-8.

Chinese medicine and biomodulation in cancer patients--Part one.

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  • 1Departments of Oncology and Medicine, McMaster University; Juravinski Cancer Program, Hamilton Health Sciences Corporation; and The Brain-Body Institute, St. Joseph's Healthcare System, Hamilton, ON.


Traditional Chinese Medicine (tcm) may be integrated with conventional Western medicine to enhance the care of patients with cancer. Although tcm is normally implemented as a whole system, recent reductionist research suggests mechanisms for the effects of acupuncture, herbs, and nutrition within the scientific model of biomedicine. The health model of Chinese medicine accommodates physical and pharmacologic interventions within the framework of a body-mind network. A Cartesian split does not occur within this model, but to allow for scientific exploration within the restrictions of positivism, reductionism, and controls for confounding factors, the components must necessarily be separated. Still, whole-systems research is important to evaluate effectiveness when applying the full model in clinical practice. Scientific analysis provides a mechanistic understanding of the processes that will improve the design of clinical studies and enhance safety. Enough preliminary evidence is available to encourage quality clinical trials to evaluate the efficacy of integrating tcm into Western cancer care.


Chinese medicine; acupuncture; herbs; immunity; research; supportive care

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