Saturday, December 04, 2010


[DEAN ORNISH:] For the last 30 years or so, I have directed a series of clinical research studies proving that the simple choices that we make in our lives each day can have a powerful impact on our health and our well being, and much more quickly than had once been thought possible, even at a cellular level. Ironically, we have been using very high tech, expensive, state of the art measures to prove how powerful very simple and low tech and often ancient interventions can be.

Our prostate study was a randomized control trial of men who had biopsy proven prostate cancer and who have elected not to be treated conventionally for reasons unrelated to our study. What made this interesting from a scientific standpoint is that we could take men who knew they had cancer from biopsies, randomly divide them into two groups, and have a true non-intervention control group so we could determine the effects of comprehensive lifestyle changes alone without being confounded by other treatments. You can't do that with breast cancer because almost everybody gets treated right away, so you don't know if any improvements were due to the lifestyle changes or the chemo or the radiation or the surgery.
After a year we found that PSA levels, a marker for prostate cancer, went up (worsened) in the comparison or control group, but went down significantly (improved) in the experimental group that made the lifestyle changes we recommended. The degree of change in lifestyle was directly correlated with the degree of change in their PSA levels.
We also found that the prostate tumor growth in vitro was inhibited 70 percent in the group that made these changes compared to only nine percent in the group that didn't. The inhibition of the tumor growth was itself a direct function of the degree of change in lifestyle. In other words, the more people changed, the more it directly inhibited the growth of their prostate tumors.
J. Craig Venter has shown that one way you can change your genes is by making new ones. We are finding that another way you can change your gene expression is simply by changing your lifestyle.
In May of this year, we published an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Craig was the communicating editor). We found that changing lifestyle actually changes gene expression. In only three months, we found that over 500 genes were either up-regulated or down-regulated—in simple terms, turning on genes that prevent many chronic diseases, and turning off genes that cause coronary heart disease, oncogenes that are linked to breast and prostate cancer, genes that promote inflammation and oxidative stress and so on. 

Friday, December 03, 2010

Is Cancer a Man Made Disease?

Alex's note:  This group of articles I found on one hand disturbing and on the other enlightening.  Wow!  This is the toxic world we live in! But there is a lot we can do to prevent cancer and that is the important take away message.  Once you need heroic measures like chemo. and radiation things have progressed.  It is always better to cut the grass while it is still short.  However since my grass was not cut that way (I got cancer).  It has become a life transforming event and I am dedicated to understanding cancer and its prevention.

A study of ancient bodies has determined that cancer is a man-made disease, one fueled by the excesses. Tumors turn out to be extremely rare until very recent times, when pollution and poor diet became issues.
Researchers analyzed potential references to the disease in classical literature, and also searched for signs in the fossil record and in mummified bodies. But despite examining tissue from hundreds of Egyptian mummies, they confirmed only one case of cancer
According to the Daily Mail:
"Dismissing the argument that the ancient Egyptians didn't live long enough to develop cancer, the researchers pointed out that other age-related disease such as hardening of the arteries and brittle bones did occur ...
Fossil evidence of cancer is also sparse, with scientific literature providing a few dozen, mostly disputed, examples in animal fossil".


  Cancer September 1977; 40(3): 1358-1362

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Utilizing Chinese Medicines to Improve Cancer Therapy - Fiction or Reality?

Despite the tremendous effort on research and development by government and industry, effective treatment of cancer in most patients remains elusive at present. Even if a given chemotherapeutic regimen is very effective at onset, it eventually will fail, due to drug resistance and /or organ toxicity. Thus, there is a great need to incorporate new mode of therapeutic approach in prevention and treatment of cancer. Chinese medicines (CM) have been used in China for about 5000 years for symptomatic treatment of diseases including cancer. The traditional approach of CM is to use different herbal formulae to restore the balance of Yin-Yang of body energy so body function can be normalized. Can this traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) approach provide an alternative to the evidence based conventional cancer chemotherapy? It would be a fiction to expect TCM to substitute as an alternative approach to modern cancer chemotherapy, despite its thousands of years of use in China. However, there are distinct potentials, from theory to herbal compounds, which could be derived from CM. For example, the balance concept of TCM may be an intriguing therapeutic approach for future cancer therapy— aiming not to eradicate all cancer cells but to keep it in balance with normal cells to result in bodily function as close to normal as possible and maintain in such a state as long as possible. Another potential contribution of TCM is its rich source of active anticancer compounds and their combinations which could be developed and proved to be effective therapeutic regimens (or adjunctive regimens) in the future. In tracing the source of new drugs for cancer, more than half of current anticancer agents used clinically in USA are either natural occurring or derived from natural products. These include Vinca alkaloids, taxanes, podophyllotoxin, camptothecins and anthracyclines. Despite the interest in plant-based new drug discovery, only a small portion of more than 250,000 known plant species have been investigated for cancer drug discovery. It is likely that herbs used in TCM can be a useful source of new anticancer drugs. Furthermore, the TCM formulae themselves (which always composed of mixtures of components) may simultaneously target multiple cancer-causing genes/pathways and thus achieve superior effect as compared to single agents aiming for a single molecular target. Nevertheless, before any TCM product can be accepted by the Western world as complementary and alternative medicine for cancer treatment/prevention, it is crucial to identify bioactive components, understand their pharmacological mechanisms, and achieve quality control of a given product along with demonstrating its clinical efficacy. In this issue of Current Drug Discovery Technologies, eight review articles highlighting in more detail some of these important points relating to development of CM as anti-cancer drugs. These articles describe the potential use of the balance concept, examples of CM-derived drugs that have been approved by US FDA and new technology (chemoinformatics) and targets (drug transporters and other molecular targets) as well as TCM products and formulations used for lung cancer. We hope that this special issue will provide a glimpse of examples and new technologies that can be applied toward improving the development of CM, potentially leading to new and effective anti-cancer agents in the future.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lymphoma, Chemotherapy, & Antioxidants

Oxidative stress is defined as a type of physiological stress on the body caused by the damage done by free radicals inadequately neutralized by antioxidants. It has long been known that oxidative stress is an essential mechanism by which chemotherapy works to treat cancer. However, the question of whether this is always the case is seldom debated openly. Taking a deeper look into the research literature yields many examples where oxidative stress on cancer cells has been shown to be counterproductive. For example, a study using human Burkitt lymphoma cells found that oxidative stress actually interferes with the ability of the chemotherapy drugs doxorubicin, cisplatin, etoposide, and cytarabine to cause cancer cell death.
When oxidative stress levels are reduced in cancer cells, their growth is more easily controlled through a process called apoptosis. During apoptosis, cells are removed by the immune system before they lose their cell wall, thus avoiding an inflammatory response to the dying cells.
However, when oxidative stress levels go up, cancer cell death happens through a slower, messier, and less effective pathway called pyknosis or necrosis. Additionally, the ability of the body to “clean up” the resulting cellular debris from cancer cell death is also inhibited by oxidative stress. The body’s house-cleaning cells (called monocyte-derived macrophages) cannot function optimally under conditions of oxidative stress (i.e. low oxygen levels).
The authors of the above-mentioned study on Burkitt lymphoma cells and chemotherapy suggest that including antioxidants in the treatment protocol may enhance chemotherapy-induced apoptosis and phagocytosis. (Shacter, Williams et al. 2000) A second study, involving the chemotherapy drugs etoposide and calcimycin, confirms this finding: Human Burkitt’s lymphoma cells were unable to die quickly by apoptosis in the presence of oxidative stress and instead died using the slower and messier method of necrosis. In this study, it was found that oxidative stress inhibited apoptosis by depleting cells of their energy source, which is called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). (Lee and Shacter 1999)
Related to these observations about the relationship between cellular oxidative stress levels is the widely held view in medicine that the use of antioxidant dietary supplements diminishes chemotherapy’s effectiveness. However, when one looks more closely at the existing published science on how antioxidants and chemotherapy combine, the true answer is not so definitive. Many research studies, encompassing cell culture tests in the laboratory and also animal and some human studies, are coming to a conclusion often very different from the conventional perspective that chemotherapy and antioxidants should never be combined.
One example is a human study in which researchers discovered that higher levels of the antioxidant selenium in the blood of patients with aggressive B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma correlated with increased achievable doses of anthracycline based chemotherapy, better treatment response, achievement of long term remission, and longer overall survival. It is important to note that in this study, however, the level of selenium present in the blood of patients was from their diet; the study was not a test of supplemented selenium. (Last, Cornelius et al. 2003) As seen in this study, higher levels of natural antioxidants can help treatment outcomes.
On the other hand, the decreased levels of antioxidants (or oxidative stress) that are caused by many chemotherapy treatments correlates with increased side effects. In patients with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, chemotherapy with Adriamycin, bleomycin, vincristine, and dexamethasone significantly decreases antioxidant levels. (Kaya, Keskin et al. 2005) In children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia who received high-dose methotrexate, oxidative damage to proteins as well as other factors was related to toxic side effects. (Carmine, Evans et al. 1995)
Using antioxidants during chemotherapy is an important and controversial question among health care providers, patients, and their support teams. In previous issues of Avenues, we have researched this subject thoroughly for prostate, breast, lung, colon, and ovarian cancers. In this article, we turn our focus to lymphoma, conducting a systematic search for published research that would support or discourage the use of antioxidants in combination with chemotherapy. The overwhelming majority of studies find a favorable interaction between antioxidants and chemotherapy, providing evidence that antioxidants can decrease chemotherapy side effects, increase treatment effectiveness, and decrease resistance to chemotherapy.
For this paper, we searched for clinical or laboratory data published in peer-reviewed medical journals, conducted by cancer researchers in universities and medical research facilities around the world. Some of these studies are still in early stages and include only laboratory or animal data while others have advanced to include human volunteers. We organized these data into the major categories of specific chemotherapy drugs. Within each section for a specific drug are found the research on combinations of that drug with various antioxidants, grouped by the name of the antioxidant in alphabetical order. We also point out specifically which studies were conducted in a laboratory (i.e. used cancer cell cultures), used animals, or involved human volunteers. As each antioxidant appears in the paper for the first time, we provide some introduction to the antioxidant including what food sources naturally contain it, other common applications in clinical use, and typical dosages. The dosages given are not necessarily appropriate for all patients and should be individualized with practitioner guidance.

Click here for the rest of the article 

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

How Is This Cancer Different From All Other Cancers?

Alex Comments:  As genetic medicine begins to enter the clinic Western Medicine has come full circle to embrace a concept that is germane to Chinese Medicine which is to classify the patients unique pattern with a disease not only the disease itself.  On the genetic level disparate cancers may have the same genetic mutation.    

"I was just diagnosed with BRAF-mutated colon cancer." I've never heard anyone say that, but there's no reason I should not. Our knowledge of cancer genomics is increasingly enabling physicians to target therapies at the aberrant biochemistry that underlies individual tumors. This is truly taking personalized medicine 1 step further -- not only is therapy tailored to patients, it is also tailored to the unique deficits and/or vulnerabilities of each patient's tumor.
My thoughts along these lines were jump-started by a recent research study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.[1] The report focused on mutations in ARID1A, a gene that is often mutated in ovarian clear-cell carcinomas and in endometrioid carcinomas. Among 119 cases of clear-cell carcinoma, 46% demonstrated ARID1A mutations; 10 of 33 cases of endometrioid carcinoma (30%) also showed ARID1A mutations. By contrast, no ARID1A mutations were found in the 76 high-grade serous ovarian carcinomas examined.
Both clear-cell and endometrioid ovarian carcinomas are relatively insensitive to platinum/taxane chemotherapy, which is the treatment of choice for high-grade serous carcinomas. Could this be related to the ARID1A mutations? If yes, would ARID1A mutations found in other tumor types also be resistant to platinum/taxane chemotherapy?

Cracking the Code to "Beat" Cancer

A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in August[2] described the effectiveness of PLX4032 in shrinking the tumors of 81% of metastatic melanoma patients with the BRAFV600E mutation. Of 32 patients studied, 2 had no sign of disease at the end of the trial and 24 had tumor shrinkage of 30% or more. Only 2 patients' tumors showed no regression at all.
When BRAF is mutated, the normal function of the B-raf protein is altered in ways that can lead to birth defects early in life or to cancer in adults. PLX4032 inhibits the mutated B-raf protein regardless of the cell type in which it resides, but only in tissues with the BRAF mutation.
Considering the striking impact of PLX4032 on malignant melanomas, and its focused action against the aberrant B-raf protein, would PLX4032 also be active against other tumors with this same BRAF mutation?
According to the database of the Cancer Genome Project of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, BRAF is mutated in 45% of thyroid cancers.[3] Not surprisingly then, a paper presented at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology[4] showed that PLX4032 is active in thyroid cancers as well: tumor regression rates were 9%-16% in thyroid cancer patients with BRAFV600E mutations, and patients showed no tumor progression for 4-7 months.
A 2008 study reported that inhibition of BRAF caused apoptosis in melanoma cells, but only arrested growth in thyroid carcinoma cells, with little or no cell death -- which might explain why although PLX4032 is clearly active in thyroid cancer, it has such different effects in melanoma than it does in thyroid cancer.[5]

A Rose By Any Other Name...

So how might our understanding of tumor classification change as genomic medicine moves into the clinic? In tissues such as thyroid, which is unique in its affinity for iodine, or in breast cancers requiring estrogen to thrive, these characteristics should obviously be exploited in ways that achieve apoptosis or growth inhibition. But it might be equally important to exploit the ways in which other tumors -- which might be dissimilar at first glance -- are actually similar on a genetic level. Just as PLX4032 seems to be active in a variety of BRAF-mutated tumors, other chemotherapeutic agents can be designed to target tumors with common genetic variants. Or, conversely, just as clear-cell ovarian cancers with ARID1A mutations are unresponsive to platinum/taxane chemotherapy, we might be able to avoid the use of these chemotherapies in other tumor types with the same mutation.
The more we learn about cancer genomes, the more we're beginning to understand that "BRAF-mutant colon cancer" should be treated differently from BRAF-normal colon cancer. Whether we'll ultimately be able to unravel every genetic mutation in every tumor type remains to be seen. But, in the meantime, investigations into treatments tailored toward a range of tumor types with ARID1A and BRAFV600E mutations clearly provide a window into the future of clinical oncology.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Clinical Implications of Tai Chi Interventions: A Review: Abstract and Introduction

Michael Sieverts
Alex Comments:  If you are local to Los Angeles,  There is a wonderful Qi Gong class for cancer patients offered through the wellness community at Clover park in Santa Monica.  They teach a Qi Gong form called Guo Lin Qi Gong.  This form has a very interesting history.  This class is not just a form of exercise for cancer patients.  There are other aspects of the class that are not easily quantifiable. For example, it is powerful to get a group of people together who are all taking personal responsibility for their health sharing about it.  This aspect of the class the wonderful teacher Michael Sieverts calls, "Social Oncology". After the Qi Gong is taught some of the class then does a Tai Qi form which I have shown in a video below.   Tai Qi is one of the forms of Qi Gong in the same way that hatha yoga is one form of the bigger umbrella of all the yogic disciplines. 

The review of Tai Qi studies below is in part a way to quantify a feeling.  This is difficult to do.  To feel good from practicing is the key.  I hope to see you in the park. 

Tai Chi, a Chinese bodymind exercise, has been used in China for thousands of years for both prevention and therapeutic purposes. In the 1990s, the Western research community started to examine the effectiveness of Tai Chi interventions using scientific research design and standardized outcome measures. A number of reviews of these studies have been published. Based on an extensive literature search, this state-of-the-art review identified 25 such reviews published since 2000, provides a description of them, and summarizes what was learned from these reviews. Although there is still a need to understand more about Tai Chi interventions, especially Tai Chi's mechanism, it is concluded that Tai Chi is a very useful exercise format that can be used for a variety of chronic disease conditions. It requires no equipment and little space, and it can be practiced anytime, anywhere, and by older adults and individuals with chronic diseases. Since short forms (eg, 10 or 24 forms) have been shown to have similar benefits as longer ones, beginners should start using simple, short forms first. Like other exercise interventions, regular practice is a must to be able to gain maximal benefits. Tai Chi can be used safely as a complementary addition to conventional medical treatment, physical therapy, and rehabilitation, as well as with other exercise interventions.

For the entire Review click here



Monday, November 01, 2010

New Yorker Magazine Book Review: Cancer World The making of a modern disease

Alex Comments:  Interesting Book Review.

The risk-factor world holds out hope for avoiding cancer while recruiting masses of us into the anxious state of the “precancerous.” The physician and historian Robert Aronowitz offers an acute illustration of the problem: a fifty-eight-year-old woman diagnosed with breast cancer has a lumpectomy, followed by local radiation and months of chemo. After that, she is put on the anti-estrogen Tamoxifen for five years. As she finishes that course of treatment, she weighs the decision whether to go on a different type of hormonal therapy and what type and frequency of M.R.I. or mammogram to get. She is an active member of a breast-cancer-survivor group, and she closely monitors the latest developments on the Web. Meanwhile, another woman, the same age, has not received a breast-cancer diagnosis. She has, however, taken supplementary estrogen pills for several years in connection with menopause, and her doctor now tells her to stop, because estrogen may constitute a risk factor for breast cancer. She has been getting annual mammograms since she was forty, and four years ago an abnormal mammogram was the occasion for an aspiration biopsy. This proved negative, but her anxiety increases. She surfs the Web for information about risk factors, and she is struck by direct advertisements for Tamoxifen to prevent the development of breast cancer, for which she now believes she is at serious risk. The first woman had cancer; the second woman does not have cancer. But their experiences eerily resemble each other.

Read more

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Safe and Efficacious Use of Chinese Herbs for Radiotherapy Patients (Part I)

Alex Comments:  The following two newsletter posts I wrote prior to my own cancer diagnosis.  Little did I know I was going to be receiving radiation myself.  My friend, colleague and visionary, Ellen Rudolph directs the Life Cycle Health Center.  I have been working with her for a few years. 

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Life Cycle Health Center
The Safe and Efficacious Use of Chinese Herbs for Radiotherapy Patients (Part I)

Dear Doctors, Nurses, Caregivers, Patients and Friends:

Previously we have referenced some of the numerous research studies from China demonstrating that integrating Chinese medicine--acupuncture, therapeutic exercise such as qi gong and tai qi, massage, diet therapies, and herbal medicine--with Western medicine benefits cancer patients more than either medicine on its own.

This week, Alex Berks, licensed acupuncturist and Clinical Director of Oncology for Life Cycle Health Center, who has himself just completed active treatment for an aggressive soft tissue sarcoma, discusses how Chinese herbal medicine combined with conventional radiotherapy can be of tremendous value to cancer patients:

While advances in the targeting of radiation therapy have vastly improved, allowing greater protection of surrounding tissue, radiation can still pose a significant challenge for some patients. Radiotherapy may damage fragile mucosal barriers in the lungs and intestines, injure salivary production, cause digestive problems, dryness, inflammation and even scorching of fragile tissues, depending on location, intensity and duration of the treatment.  It can also injure the bone marrow.

From a Chinese medicine perspective, radioactivity damages tissue, causes inflammation and oxidation and is considered a "toxic heat".  Chinese medicine refers to cancer itself as a toxin.  Radiotherapy is viewed as a toxin used to kill a toxin.

"Rebalancing" is the core concept of Chinese medicine and forms the basis of the diagnostic system that allows for individuation of treatment based upon patterns that individuals express, not just their western disease diagnosis.  For example, a person who has a "dry" constitutional type (think post menopause, for example) will have a more difficult time with radiation than a person who has more phlegm, or excess body weight or a more moist constitution.  According to Chinese medicine, when the organ systems are in balance and qi (vital energy) and blood flow smoothly, it is much harder for disease to take root.  

Eating foods and taking herbs that are cool in nature, with moistening properties that mitigate toxic heat and activate and nourish the blood provides the natural balance for radiation toxicity and are generally recommended for radiation patients.  Aloe is an example of a cool, moistening anti-inflammatory plant. It is used topically and internally to soothe burns and ease inflamed tissue.  Patients undergoing radiation therapy may benefit from many herbs in the Chinese medicine pharmacopeia that have cooling and moistening properties and that target specific organs. 

As radiation damage accumulates over the course of treatment and in its aftermath, lingering toxic heat depletes the moistening properties of the blood (a Chinese medicine concept) and injures the mechanisms of energy production (excessive oxidation and inflammation).  If the body cannot successfully compensate for this then opportunistic infections and inflammation can injure vital organs, possibly leading to long term damage and secondary cancers.  Applying Chinese medicine diagnostic principles and appropriate treatment at each stage is a way to help prevent this degeneration and many side-effects.  
In summary, Chinese herbal medicine can be combined efficaciously and safely to improve and prevent side effects of treatment, as well as preserve long term vitality and survival.  To achieve maximum benefit, patients should commence herbal treatment 1 week before starting radiotherapy and continue for at least 6 months after treatment.

Please consult with a trained Chinese Medicine practitioner who is knowledgeable in the integrative support of cancer recovery, such as our team at Life Cycle Health Center.
In good health,
Alex Berks, L.Ac., Clinical Director, Oncology and
Ellen Rudolph, Executive Director,
Life Cycle Health Center

Resources and Studies Showing Benefits of Chinese Herbal Medicine for Radiotherapy Side Effects

Integrative medicine has been practiced in China for 50+ years. 77 year-old Dr. Zhang Dai-zhao, a well-known oncologist in China who is currently chief physician and doctoral supervisor at China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing has been engaged in preventing and treating tumors with integrative medicine for over 40 years. He is one of the leading authorities on the usage of integrative medicine to relieve the side effects of cancer treatment and has focused his research and practice on improving the quality of life for tumor patients by increasing the survival rates and lessening side effects from radiation and chemotherapy.

The 2007 English translation of his book, An Integrated Clinical Approach with Chinese Medicine: Alleviating the Side Effects of Cancer Treatment (2nd Edition People's Medical Publishing House), is an invaluable resource for  clinicians who are involved in the management of cancer. It focuses on   using modern diagnostic methods and Chinese medical treatment to address the undesirable, adverse effects of radiation therapy, chemotherapy and other treatment modalities.

His book cites cites studies that demonstrate the value of Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM) in conjunction with radiotherapy (RT) to improve survival rates, lessen the impact of depletion of white blood cells, and improve a patient's ability to complete the full course of radiotherapy treatment.

1. This study, from page 22, reported by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, included 197 nasopharyngeal cancer patients who were treated with  Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM)  plus radiotherapy (RT), compared to radiotherapy alone.

Survival Rate
1 year  3 Years 5 years
CHM + RT 91.3% 67.4% 52.4%
RT 80%  33.3% 24%

Disappearance of the tumor
CHM + RT 95.7%
RT 88.6%

Cause of Death - primary lesion relapse or metastatic lesions
CHM + RT 34.8%
RT 52.4%

The combined therapy group had more than double the 5-year survival compared to the radiotherapy alone group. The tumor was killed in more patients in the combined therapy group and the remote metastasis rate was less in the combined group. 

2. In a study looking at the efficacy of herbs to prevent and treat side effects of radiation therapy, 71 patients were an active treatment group with herbs and radiation. The control group was given a placebo herbal formula plus radiation. Results showed that 84.5% of patients were able to finish the full course of radiotherapy versus 63.3% in the control group.  (Neither the type of cancer nor the staging was not revealed.)

3. In another small study, white blood cell counts did not go as low in a combined treated group as they did with radiotherapy alone.  One particular formula, Fu Zheng Xiao Formula (FZZX) was shown to moderate T-lymphocyte subset to enhance radiotherapy efficacy.

4. Another combined herb-radiation study was conducted with nasopharyngeal cancer patients who continued taking herbs for 6 months after radiation was finished.  The 5-year survival rate was 75%.  The authors indicate that Chinese medicine combined with radiation improved the effectiveness of radiation therapy while minimizing its toxicty in both the short and long term.  There was no mention of a control group in this study.

5. Rat studies have shown improved efficacy of white blood cell counts and survival rate when radiation and herbs were combined.  Interestingly, survival rates were even higher in the rats that were given the herbal mixture 1 week before beginning treatment with radiation.

The information in this newsletter is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with your doctor. 

The Safe and Efficacious Use of Chinese Herbs for Radiotherapy Patients (Part II)

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Life Cycle Health Center
The Safe and Efficacious Use of Chinese Herbs for Radiotherapy Patients (Part II)

Dear Doctors, Nurses, Caregivers, Patients and Friends:

In part I  Alex Berks, licensed acupuncturist and Clinical Director of Oncology for Life Cycle Health Center discussed the ways in which Chinese herbs can be used to treat some of the more troubling side effects of radiotherapy. In Part II we'll look at how Chinese herbs have been shown to enhance the effectiveness of radiotherapy.

A tumor's sensitivity to radiation is partly dependent on blood supply and oxygenation of the tissues. Herbs can improve both.  It has been reported that tumors have a ratio of anoxic cells that have poor radiation sensitivity and that radiotherapy may reach only about 1/3 of cells in a low oxygenic state. Low tumor infiltration by radiation is considered one of the factors causing tumor relapse.  

In Chinese medicine, herbs are generally prescribed in formulas, with modifications based upon the individual's unique presentation. In tailoring herbal formulas to the patient it is said that in Chinese medicine "the patient is treated". This contrasts with biomedicine's focus on cellular pathology, which leads to an approach by which "the disease is treated." Curiously, as biomedicine advances, it is resembling Chinese medicine more and more in providing specific treatments that are individualized to the unique presentation and characteristics of patients' tumors.

Research conducted on single herbs, though not representative of how Chinese herbs are most beneficially and clinically applied, illustrates the efficacy and principles of more complex herbal formulas.  An example of this is a study on a Liguistrazine extract of the common Chinese herb Chuan xiong (Radix Liguistici Wallichi). (See link at top, right.) This herb is known in the Chinese pharmocopeia as a blood activator.  It has anti-platelet, anticoagulant and blood vessel dilating properties.  It has also been researched for its ability to increase blood perfusion in the brain.  

Results of an animal study with this herb showed that rats responded to the herbal extract with increased microcirculation in caliber, flow speed, flow status and capillary count.  It is not hard to see that a formula with liguistici could improve the microcirculation of peri-tumor tissue and the tumor body, increase blood perfusion in the tumor body, improve cell's anoxic state and elevate the sensitivity of tumor tissue to radiotherapy.

The studies cited at right demonstrate the value of Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM) in conjuction with radiotherapy (RT) to improve survival rates, lessen the impact of depletion of white blood cells, and improve a patient's ability to finish the full course of radiotherapy treatment. These findings imply that Chinese herbal medicine could enhance the radiosensitivity of tumors.   

In summary, Chinese herbal medicine can be combined efficaciously and safely to enhance radiotherapy's efficacy, improve and prevent side effects of treatment, as well as preserve long term vitality and survival.  

To achieve maximum benefit, patients should commence herbal treatment 1 week before starting radiotherapy and continue for at least 6 months after treatment. 

Please consult with a trained Chinese Medicine practitioner who is knowledgeable in the integrative support of cancer recovery, such as our team at Life Cycle Health Center.
In good health,
Alex Berks, L.Ac., Clinical Director, Oncology and
Ellen Rudolph, Executive Director,
Life Cycle Health Center

Research, Sources, and Viewpoints: Chinese Herbs to Enhance Radiotherapy

1. A 3-part study, "Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Treatment of Breast Cancer" by Isaac Cohen, LAc, OMD, Mary Tagliaferri, MD, LAc & Debu Tripathy, MD includes herbs that are commonly used in radiation such as Chuan Xiong  Read the article >>

2. Another excellent resource is: "Integrating Conventional and Chinese Medicine in Cancer Care: A Clinical Guide"

 (Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2007) by Tai Lahans, MTCM, M.Ed., L.Ac., a Chinese medicine cancer specialist with over 20 years of experience, practicing in SeattleRead excepts>> scroll to page 119 for information on Chinese herbs and radiotherapy.

Book excerpt: "The purpose of XRT is to kill local and regional cancer cells mainly by making cell-damaging free radicals. Antioxidants, and by extension Chinese herbs that clear heat, are thought to possibly inhibit radiation from having its full effect. The scientific data shows that, counterintuitively, antioxidants, and by extension Chinese herbal formulas that clear heat and nourish yin, actually improve the efficacy of both chemotherapy and XRT. There is no current evidence that herbal medicines will decrease the effect of XRT. ...The vast evidence from research regarding herbal medicine and antioxidant therapies during radiation show that especially blood-regulating herbs like dan shen enhance the effectiveness of radiation."

3. "Breast Cancer and Botanical Medicine", a June 2008 article by Steven Gomberg, L.Ac., CCN, RH (AHG) and Brandon Horn, PhD, JD, L.Ac. provides a context and clinically relevant information on the use of herbs in the treatment of berast cancer. Read the article >>

Article excerpt: "...given the wealth of historical information on the safety and efficacy of various herbs (some of them having been used for thousands of years), an herbal regimen could be considered as an additional and potentially effective tool in the treatment of breast cancer." "By utilizing herbs that have both historical data and modern research demonstrating potential mechanisms for efficacy, it is possible to maximize the chances of favorable outcomes while minimizing discomfort associated with conventional therapies."  "...a lack of data on the combined effects of herbs and drugs should not necessarily be a hindrance to their use. The same prudent monitoring that allows for widespread use of untested pharmaceutical combinations can enable us to successfully apply the combined use of herbs and pharmaceuticals. With proper monitoring, herbs can be a substantial asset both in the treatment and prevention of breast cancer." 

The information in this newsletter is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with your doctor. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fertility and Cancer: What Are My Options?

Fertile Hope is a national LIVESTRONG initiative dedicated to providing reproductive information, support and hope to cancer patients and survivors whose medical treatments present the risk of infertility.

View charts summarizing currently available data on the fertility risks associated with specific cancer treatments. This information represents a compilation of clinical experience and research on common cancer treatments that may impact reproductive function and capacity. The links below will re-direct you to a PDF file.

Fertile Action™ is an organization dedicated to eradicating cost as the primary barrier preventing women  from preserving their fertility.  I have met the founder, Alice Crisci.  She has amassed a list of Reproductive Endocrinologists who will do free fertility evaluations.   Contact Fertile Action for local RE's in your area. 

Fertility and Cancer: What Are My Options?

List of types of cancer treatments are their effect on fertility. 

Pregnancy after breast cancer

Pregnancy after breast cancer

In the past, many doctors advised breast cancer survivors not to become pregnant for at least 2 years after treatment. Although only a few studies have been done, nearly all have found that pregnancy does not increase the risk of the cancer coming back after successful treatment. If you are thinking about getting pregnant, be sure to talk to your doctor first. Sometimes counseling can help you sort out the complex issues about motherhood and breast cancer survivorship.

Pregnancy No Hazard to Breast Cancer Survivors

Pregnancy After Breast Cancer

Scientists from Belgium and Italy announced they have now shown that getting pregnant is in fact quite safe for women with a history of successfully treated breast cancer.
Breast cancer is the most commonly seen form of cancer in women during their childbearing years. And yet, as women postpone starting their families until they are older, and as survival times from breast cancer continue to increase, more and more breast-cancer survivors want to have children after they have completed their breast-cancer treatment.
Most health professionals, however, have long believed that women with a history of breast cancer should not get pregnant. These doctors fear that the increase in estrogen levels that accompany pregnancy and birth might stimulate cancer cells and cause a recurrence
But now comes some good news from the March 2010 European Breast Cancer Conference in Barcelona. Scientists from Belgium and Italy announced they have now shown that getting pregnant is in fact quite safe for women with a history of successfully treated breast cancer. In fact, their data revealed that pregnancy is not only safe for these women but that it might even improve their chances of survival.
To reach this exciting conclusion, the researchers analyzed data from 14 clinical trials that other scientists had carried out previously. These 14 earlier trials involved 19,476 women with a history of breast cancer, 1,417 of whom had gotten pregnant and 18,059 who had not. The data showed that the patients who became pregnant after successful breast-cancer treatment had a significant reduction of 42 percent in their risk of death compared to those survivors who did not get pregnant.

Having a Child After Cancer Treatment (Part I and II) | Cancer.Net

Oncologist-approved cancer information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology

Having a Child After Cancer Treatment (Part I) | Cancer.Net

A cancer survivor’s ability to have biologic children after treatment depends on the type and location of cancer, the type and dose of treatment, and the age when treatment was received. Although not all types of cancer or cancer treatment cause infertility (the inability to start or maintain a pregnancy), it is important to talk with your doctor before you start a family to learn how your body may have been affected by having a history of cancer. In this two-part series, learn how fertility may be affected in cancer survivors and find out about some fertility procedures and other parenthood options to discuss with your doctor. This article explains how cancer treatment may affect fertility and addresses some common questions and concerns of cancer survivors.

Having a Child After Cancer Treatment (Part II) | Cancer.Net

Although infertility— the inability to start or maintain a pregnancy—can be a serious complication of cancer and cancer treatment, many cancer survivors may still be able to become parents. A wide range of procedures can preserve fertility, and other options, such as surrogacy or adoption, can be explored. Talk with your doctor to learn about your options and to find the information you need to make the best decision. This article is the second in a two-part series and discusses fertility procedures and other options for people with a history of cancer.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fasting May Improve Chemo.

Standard Dietary recommendations during cancer treatment are based on the prevention or reversal of nutrient deficiencies to preserve lean body mass and minimize nutrition-related side effects, such as decreased appetite, nausea, taste changes, or bowel changes [16]. Consequently, for cancer patients who have been weakened by prior chemotherapy cycles or are emaciated, many oncologists could consider a fasting-based strategy to be potentially harmful. Nevertheless studies in cell culture and animal models indicate that fasting may actually reduce chemotherapy side effects by selectively protecting normal cells [9]. Following the publication of this pre-clinical work,several patients, diagnosed with a wide variety of cancers, elected to undertake fasting prior to chemotherapy and shared their experiences with us. In this heterogeneous group of men and women fasting was safely repeated in multiple cycles for up to 180 hours prior and/or following chemotherapy. Minor complaints that arose during fasting included dizziness, hunger, and headaches at a level that did not interfere with daily activities. Weight lost during fasting was rapidly recovered in most of the patients and did not lead to any detectable harm.

Ralph Moss, a wonderful writer, asks what is the actual science of fasting and its relationship to cancer treatment? Recently Dr. Valter D. Longo, Fernando M. Safdie and colleagues at the University of Southern California (USC) Andrus Gerontology Center and Department of Biological Sciences, have shown that a 48-hour fast protects normal cells and mice, but not cancer cells, against high-dose chemotherapy.
They also described 10 patients who voluntarily fasted prior to and/or following chemotherapy. None of these reported side effects caused by fasting other than lightheadedness and, of course, hunger. However, most patients reported less fatigue, weakness or gastrointestinal side effects from chemotherapy if they also fasted before and/or after receiving the drugs.
Nor did fasting decrease the effectiveness of the chemotherapy. These USC scientists therefore suggest that fasting, in combination with chemo, is “feasible, safe, and has the potential to ameliorate side effects.” They also recommend consulting one’s physician before undertaking a fast, and I totally agree. There are certainly individuals with cancer who should not fast. But fasting should be feasible for other patients, is cost-free and, at least in this preliminary report, effective at reducing the side effects of chemotherapy.
The full text of the study in the National Library of Medicine can be found here

Fasting May Improve Chemo « Cancer Advisor: Ralph Moss on Cancer News
Alex Comments: It appears a good case is being made for fasting before and after chemotherapy. It is definitely worth taking a close look into. As for my own chemotherapy treatments, I did not know this information and I approached chemo. with an"eat my way through it" mentality (which is how I approach lots of things that are anxiety producing). My chemo. If I had to do it all over again I would probably fast around my chemotherapy. Tell me your experience.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Paradoxes in Acupuncture Research: Strategies for Moving Forward

Paradoxes in Acupuncture Research: Strategies for Moving Forward


In November 2007, the Society for Acupuncture Research (SAR) held an international symposium to mark the 10th anniversary of the 1997 NIH Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture. The symposium presentations revealed the considerable maturation of the field of acupuncture research, yet two provocative paradoxes emerged. First, a number of well-designed clinical trials have reported that true acupuncture is superior to usual care, but does not significantly outperform sham acupuncture, findings apparently at odds with traditional theories regarding acupuncture point specificity. Second, although many studies using animal and human experimental models have reported physiological effects that vary as a function of needling parameters (e.g., mode of stimulation) the extent to which these parameters influence therapeutic outcomes in clinical trials is unclear. This White Paper, collaboratively written by the SAR Board of Directors, identifies gaps in knowledge underlying the paradoxes and proposes strategies for their resolution through translational research. We recommend that acupuncture treatments should be studied (1) “top down” as multi-component “whole-system” interventions and (2) “bottom up” as mechanistic studies that focus on understanding how individual treatment components interact and translate into clinical and physiological outcomes. Such a strategy, incorporating considerations of efficacy, effectiveness and qualitative measures, will strengthen the evidence base for such complex interventions as acupuncture.

OncoFertility from Time Magazine

Alex Comments:  The growing field of fertility for cancer patients combines what I know a lot about: fertility and cancer.  I am a fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine.   and knowledgeable about treating cancer from my own cancer experience, training and practice.  See my website for fertility and cancer information.  As a practitioner of Chinese Medicine I can help a woman restore her fertility when appropriate.  Whether using amazing technologies such as surrogacy, ovarian tissue cryopreservation, embryo freezing, or sperm freezing, the need for cancer patients to integrate strategies to maximize their vitality and intelligently manage side effects of cancer treatment is a life and fertility enhancing strategy.  Like Oncofertility, integrative oncology is an area of research and clinical practice that is a new concept for many. 

Recently I met with Alice Crisci,  a cancer survivor and founder of Fertile Action.  This is a cancer charity of community partners for women of reproductive age. They ensure women can protect their right to motherhood for women who are being treated for cancer.  This is a great organization and resource. She states, It is the only 100% inclusive discount program for all women to pursue fertility preservation. She also launched the Fertile Action Network, a multi-disciplinary outreach campaign to ensure every doctor discusses fertility risks with their patients.

Holly Trandel was married on Oct. 1. Like any other bride, she juggled an endless to-do list before gliding down the aisle of St. Alphonsus Church in Chicago, the train of her fluted ivory silk gown sweeping between the oak pews.
Unlike other newlyweds, however, Trandel, 29, already has her future as a mother mapped out — five potential babies on ice at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where she works as a community health educator.
Trandel was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, two months after getting engaged. But in many ways she considers herself lucky. Her cancer was caught early. It also happened to be discovered at the hospital that serves as the hub of the nationwide Oncofertility Consortium, a network of some 60 cancer centers where doctors take a larger-than-usual view of the aftereffects of cancer—namely, the impact of treatment on a patient's fertility.
What it means to survive cancer today is very different from what it meant 20 or even 10 years ago. Back then, doctors and patients approached cancer like a monster to be slain; surviving was the only goal. But as treatments have improved, cancer patients have begun demanding more than just survival. They want a return to life as usual. They want to be normal people, leading normal lives. They want to have babies.

Read the whole Article here :,9171,2022642-1,00.html#ixzz12e4IjHjf

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cancer Ruminations

Getting cancer is like losing your wallet. You are so bummed out when it is gone but when you get it back again you are so thankful just to have the stuff you had all along.  That's what I said.  Perhaps Lao Tzu said it better it better: 

Be Content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. ~Lao Tzu
My first post treatment scans were clean.  

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Wonder Vitamin: Vitamin D

Alex Comments:  Vitamin D is a key anticancer nutrient and whole lot more. Most of us know we need vitamin D for strong bones. Now it appears that this nutrient, or rather a lack of it, may play a role in asthma, cancer, depression, heart disease, diabetes, even weight gain.It is a rising star of nutritional supplements along with Omega 3 fats.
Every cancer patient should absolutely have their Vitamin D levels checked.  The studies on the use of Vitamin D3 to prevent cancer and prevent metastasis are impressive.  
Low vitamin D may worsen the prognosis for women with breast cancer. In one study, women deficient in vitamin D when they were diagnosed had a 94% greater chance of the cancer spreading. They also had a 73% greater chance of dying over the next 10 years. Other studies suggest that vitamin D may even offer protection against developing breast cancer.  Other cancers may benefit from Vitamin D as well. 
Serial testing of vitamin D levels is important. It takes a long time to raise levels and one can find themselves with vitamin D toxicity if supplementing at high levels over a long period of time.  Ideal levels of Vitamin D3 should be for a cancer patient between 70-100.  My issues with the slide show are that the recommended dosages are too low.  And they do not give recommendations about limited sun exposure without sunscreen which is important for Vitamin D production. 

Another reason to test is that Vitamin D absorption rates are tremendously variable from person to person not only based on skin color, sun exposure and latitude but also by genetic polymorphism.  In other words there is genetic variability in how well a person absorbs Vitamin D.  

If you are taking Vitamin D in dosages 2,000 IU's a day or higher it is important to take a supplement that combines Vitamin D with Vitamin K.  I sell a product in 2,00 and 5,000 IU dosages in my office that contains a balance of vitmin K.  
Increasing the amount of vitamin D, via supplementation, in the presence of inadequate levels of vitamin K, can increase the risk of calcium deposition in arteries and soft tissue and have a very negative effect on artery elasticity.
I personally take 5,000 IU's/ day.  Two years before my cancer diagnosis I had my D3 levels checked in September.  One would think that my D.  levels would be the highest they would be all year at that time.  Mine were in the low 20's at that time.  I am still working on getting it up to the 70's

To watch the slideshow click here.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Acupuncture has Major Post Surgical Benefits

Alex comments:  Anasthesia can be very difficult to recover from in addition to the surgery itself.   It is gratifying that there were good results in upregulating the immune system in the post-anasthesia period. 

Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2010 Jul;30(7):585-8.

Effects of acupuncture-drug compound anesthesia on perioperative inflammatory factors in patients undergoing cardiac surgery

[Article in Chinese]
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Renji Hospital, Medical College of Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai 200127, China.


OBJECTIVE: To explore the effect of acupuncture-drug compound anesthesia on immune function in patients with extracorporeal circulation undergoing cardiac surgery.
METHODS: Thirty cases undergoing cardiac surgery which included atrial septal defect neoplasty, ventricular septal defect neoplasty, mitral valve replacement and pulmonary valve coarctotomy were randomly divided into group A and group B, 15 cases in each group. Group A was given general anesthesia plus acupuncture at Neiguan (PC 6), Lieque (LU 7) and Yunmen (LU 2), and group B was given simple general anesthesia. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interleukin-10 (IL-10) levels before and after surgery were compared.
RESULTS: The level of TNF-alpha was increased and the levels of IL-2 and IL-10 in the serum were decreased in both groups after extracorporeal circulation for 2 h and 24 h, and the ranges of all changes were more less in group A (all P < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: Compared with simple general anesthesia, acupuncture-drug compound anesthesia can improve immune suppression partially in the perioperative periods under the same conditions of controlling anesthesia degree.
PMID: 20862944 [PubMed - in process]

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cancer and Enlightenment

In "The Quantum and the Lotus," a book-length dialogue between astrophysicist Trinh Xuan Thuan (born a Buddhist), and former scientist Matthieu Ricard, who left the Pasteur Institute to become a Tibetan Buddhist monk, Ricard writes of why he abandoned his scientific career for the monastery. He says, "I followed where my passions led, while trying not to waste a single moment of this priceless human existence." More:
I think what everyone should be doing, before it's too late, is committing themselves to what they really want to do with their lives. Scientific research was interesting, of course, but I felt as though I was just adding a tiny dot of color to a pointillist canvas without knowing what the final composition would be like. So was it worth giving up all the unique opportunities of a human existence for that? In Buddhism, on the other hand, the point of departure, the goal to be reached, the means to that end, and the obstacles in the way are all perfectly clear. All you have to do is to look into your own mind and see that it is so often dominated by egoism, and that egoism derives from a deep ignorance of the true nature of ourselves and of the world. This state of affairs inevitably makes us and others suffer. Our most urgent task is to put a stop to this.
This passage brought to mind an email I'd sent to a mutual friend of Ruthie's and mine, who'd written this morning asking how she was doing. I told our friend that she was living in a state of blessedness. The phrase sounded odd coming from me, but I don't know how else to describe it. On the phone the other night, Ruthie told me about an hour she'd spent talking to a needy stranger, and what a wonderful time that was. Ruthie was almost ebullient discussing all the people coming into her life now because of the cancer. I mentioned to our friend that, given the particulars of this stranger's life and situation, I probably would have been fidgeting to get out of there. Ruthie has always been a nicer and more patient person than her brother, but nevertheless, I honestly don't think she would have given this stranger that much time before the cancer. But now she finds she wants to spend time with people like that -- with people who need someone to talk to, to disburden themselves, to balm their own suffering.
She is ... happy. She really is. God knows she'd rather not have cancer, but she's finding that it has brought her to a state of enlightenment. Ruthie doesn't talk like that, but that's exactly what she's living through. Somehow, facing the very real prospect of her imminent death has unleashed the floodgates of compassion within her. It's awesome. And to think: the opportunity to experience that is always there! Every single day, we can choose to see the world differently, and to act differently towards others. With love. With compassion. And yet, every day, so many of us choose to remain in deep ignorance ... or to read about how we ought to be compassionate and loving instead of actually do it, and live it, and be it. Why? This is my question. This is my problem.

Read more:

Friday, September 10, 2010

Can Chinese Herbs Treat Cancer?

Scuttelaria Barbata, Ban Zhi Lian
The Chinese herb Ban Zhi Lian may not be in everyone's lexicon, but to the 80 women with stage IV metastatic breast cancer, who are participating in the second phase of the BZL101 clinical trials, it represents hope and life.
For Bionovo, the drug discovery and development company in Emeryville, Calif., that's behind BZL101, there's hope too. The trial is the first FDA-validated clinical study of a potential cancer drug derived from a Chinese medicinal herb, says Dr. Mary Tagliaferri, a co-founder of the company, former practicing acupuncturist and a breast-cancer survivor. "Sixty-two percent of chemotherapy drugs come from natural products, and plants have been the basis of almost every new class of medication," she says. "It makes sense that these plants can act as anticancer agents."  For the whole story follow this link to Time Magazine.

Alex's Note:  This research is promising and important to validate Traditional use of Chinese herbs for cancer.   To be clear the way they are using the herb is in high-dosages as a single agent. 
Traditional Chinese Medicine uses multiple herbs in concert generally in lower doses and has for centuries.  I imagine that as the research on this herb goes forward they will eventually get away from the whole herb to use the extracts that are the most active against cancer.  This is where the patentable drugs can be derived.  That is good but part of the uniqueness of an herb like this one is that there toxicity profile is extremely low as a whole herb.  That will most probably not remain when it becomes a refined drug.  However as an anticancer pharmaceutical drug it will probably be more effective than the whole herb. 

As I have written about in previous posts, there are many times when anti-cancer herbs and formulas can be appropriately used within the context of conventional therapies.  Througout most of my chemotherapy I took this herb in a formula in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiation.   This is how it is done in China - combining east and west.  

More Information about the study:

Deeper understanding of the herb on the Sloane Kettering Herbal Database 
Article for practitioners from Subuthi Dharmananda on Bai Hua She She Cao (Oldenlandia)  and Ban Zhi Lian (Scutellaria)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Studying Acupuncture, One Needle Prick at a Time from the NY Times

For at least 2,000 years Chinese healers have used acupuncture to treat pain and other ailments. Now Western doctors want proof that it works.
There is little dispute that people feel better after receiving the treatment, in which thin needles are inserted deeply into the skin at specific points on the body. But are they benefiting from acupuncture itself, or just getting a placebo effect?
The debate was fueled last week by a study in the journal Arthritis Care and Research. Researchers from MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston found that among 455 patients with painful knee arthritis, acupuncture delivered no more relief than a sham treatment.
Actually, patients got significant pain relief from both treatments — an average reduction of one point on a scale of 1 to 7. And critics contend that the study was poorly designed.
For one thing, they note, patients in both groups received treatment with needles and electrical stimulation; the main difference was that in the sham group, the needles were not inserted as deeply and the stimulation was far shorter in duration.
In the real world, however, a trained acupuncturist would customize the treatment to a patient’s specific symptoms. But in this study, the patients in the “real” acupuncture group all received needles inserted in the same way.
Rather than proving that acupuncture does not work, in other words, the study may suggest that it works even when administered poorly. But the real lesson, acupuncture supporters say, is how difficult it can be to apply Western research standards to an ancient healing art.  For the whole story click here

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Specific Prayer

 This is an exchange between a Facebook friend and I

Shawn Cox Alex, I will be praying for you, that you will experience amazing healing.

Alex Berks Thank you Shawn. Sometimes a sentence from someone (you! today right now) inspires me. Since I am at Cedars getting the premix for the chemo now I will right you an extended response.

I am entering this round of chemo. cancer free. It is really, as I see it, an insurance for any possible lingering aberrant cells. The prayer, to be specific, is for the cancer not to return which is different than for the cancer to recur. I feel strongly it will not recur. In other words I don't think my former cancer is going to grow again from the original tumor. As far as anybody can tell there is no cancer left. I feel good about the power and veracity of that statement. I helped kill this tumor once with affirmation, providence herbs and specific nutrition and I am not about to invite more cancer to grow at any subconcious level if I can help it.

After the surgery a dead tumor was removed with clean margins. So that seems to me pretty good rationale for the cancer not to recur. But one can never be sure so I am writing this from the infusion center. Is it the final round? Well... I think so my Oncologist doesn't. I will finish this round and then decide.

Specific prayer requests:

Since it is not known how I got this sarcoma there is a chance (I assume) that this could grow anew whether or not I do more chemo. So a prayer, or thought for the cancer to never return is very much appreciated.

Second, I would really enjoy that this chemotherapy I am currently doing be easy, effortless and effective all at the same time.

Third, prayers for a complete and speedy recovery to my leg are also greatly appreciated.

I feel so blessed to be the recipient of prayer like this.

Thank you

If you need a little starter on healing prayer here are some Jewish ones to help.