Also TCM formulas take into account the dynamic balance of the individual. So even if there are strong and possibly toxic anti-cancer herbs there will also be herbs to support assimilation, combat the toxicity and regulate the dynamic balance of the body. The proof of this strategy being effective for a cancer patient can be measured in many ways depending on the situation. The main ways I think about it are quality of life, increase in longevity, less side effects from conventional treatment and better response to conventional treatment. This really is my message about treating cancer patients.
Herbal Aids for Cancer Review of 7 Herbs That Act As Biological Response Modifiers
Cancer treatments are a paradox, on one hand delivering powerful toxicity to a tumor, but on the other spreading toxicity to the rest of the body. The side effects of such treatments may cause death even before the cancer does. Biological response modifiers (BRMs) are compounds that have a unique effect on physiology and can reduce the side effects of cancer treatments, while at the same time increasing their effectiveness.
A BRM repairs damage to the body rather than targeting a pathogenic agent such as cancer. It typically acts by stimulating the immune system to restore optimal function. Many diseases and infections as well as AIDS result from immune surveillance failure. Because chemotherapy compromises the immune system, people receiving cancer treatments run an especially high risk of contracting and dying of infections.
Cytokines, hormones naturally produced in the body, promote immunity and are often used clinically as BRMs—to treat disease, fight viral infections and augment chemotherapy. Three pharmaceutical cytokines currently in use include colony-stimulating factors that reduce the chance of infection and thus the need for antibiotics by stimulating bone marrow to produce more white blood cells; interferons that stimulate macrophages to ingest foreign particles and help the body produce antiviral chemicals; and interleukins that stimulate growth and activation of white blood cells. The therapeutic use of these cytokines, called immunotherapy, as a cancer treatment both with and without standard anti-cancer drugs is marginally successful. Side effects such as depression, nausea and chest pain, however, can limit the effectiveness of some pharmaceutical cytokines.
Many herbs have long been known to affect the immune system, but only recently have scientists considered them as possible BRMs and adjunct cancer therapies. Such herbs often prompt the body's cells to secrete cytokines, which then enhance the immune response. The most promising of these herbs include black cumin, mistletoe, ginseng, astragalus, green tea, echinacea and garlic.