Acupuncture and Herbs for Cancer
Updated February 15, 2004






Can Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs Treat Cancer?
by Kath Bartlett, LAc

Kath Bartlett, LAc practices at the Asheville Center for Chinese Medicine, located in downtown Asheville. Kath is a nationally certified Diplomate of Acupuncture and Herbology. She received a Master's of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine from the prestigious, Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. She has completed advanced studies in the classic Chinese medical texts of Herbology and Oriental medical theory with Dr. Min Fan, formally of Beijing University. Kath can be contacted for acupuncture treatments or herbal and dietary consultations at Asheville Center for Chinese Medicine at 828/258-2777


A friend of mine, diagnosed with colon cancer, has done both chemo and radiation but this has not contained it. The cancer has not spread to the liver or lungs yet, so there is still some hope for treatment. Do you have knowledge of herbal or Chinese medicine that might help her? It would be wonderful if you have something to recommend. I am devastated at the thought of losing this friend.

Helen Ross
San Jose, California

Dear Helen,

To answer you question, yes, we do treat patients with cancer using acupuncture and Chinese herbs. However, when treating these patients, acupuncture generally takes a supportive role to western treatment. Acupuncture and herbs can reduce the side effects of chemo and radiation, such as nausea and diarrhea, and increase energy. Between rounds of chemo, Chinese medicine can rebuild the body from the damage done by the radiation. Recently I had an exceptional case that shows how effective acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be for cancer patients.

In early January, a patient came to me with a type of cancer called a lymphoma. In fact, this was his forth recurrence since 1994. In the past, his doctors have treated the cancer with standard methods of chemo and radiation. His doctors urged him to take an early retirement from his very busy chiropractic practice, as they felt the work stress contributed to the recurrence of the cancer. Unfortunately last fall the cancer recurred, and the doctors found that the lymph nodes were growing yet again. They decided to take a watchful waiting approach, and re-scan in the spring. If the nodes continued to grow, they would begin treatment.

At this point my patient called me to start a series of acupuncture treatments in order to build his body's ability to fight the cancer. I had recently taken a seminar on cancer treatment from a Chinese doctor in Florida who is getting phenomenal results in reducing the size and getting rid of tumors. We began a series of acupuncture treatments and herbal therapy that lasted three months. As part of this holistic approach, he made dietary changes, such as stopping caffeine and reducing dairy products. In April, my patient returned to his doctors to be scanned. He wrote to me to say,

"Well, your treatments helped quite a bit. The latest scan shows that the nodes are almost completely gone! My oncologist was so happily surprised that he has requested information about the treatment protocols that you used. This is a huge relief to my family and me. Thanks so much for doing a great job."
Sincerely, Don Sinclair, Chiropractic Physician

It is considered unusual to use acupuncture and Chinese herbs as the primary treatment method for cancer. In this particular case, the patient was in a waiting period. It made sense to treat the cancer with acupuncture and herbs, since it would not interfere with standard, western medical treatment.

Many people are looking for effective treatment for cancer, and other conditions that do not respond well to standard western medicine. As with any type of treatment, holistic or standard western medicine, no one can promise effective results one hundred percent of the time. Integrating Chinese medicine with western treatment can increase the effectiveness of medical care so that the patient has a better chance of overcoming difficult to treat conditions.

- Kath Bartlett, L. Ac.

If you have a question you would like answered about acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine, please e-mail Kath Bartlett, L. Ac. at kath (at) UCLAlumni (dot) net, or call Asheville Center of Chinese Medicine at (828) 258-2777.

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