There are many acupuncture techniques and herbal formulas within Chinese Medicine that are used in the complementary care of cancer. The upside and the downside of western chemotherapy treatment is the strength of it. Many patients have issues after their chemo treatment (fatigue, neuropathy, digestive issues, pain, etc.) and there are many ways to help alleviate these issues within Chinese Medicine.
Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan is one formula that is often used with post chemo related fatigue along with other digestive and blood issues. It can be a very helpful formula to help the body rebuild after chemo treatment when used with the appropriate underlying tcm diagnoses.
As practitioners we often know which formulas to use based on pattern diagnosis and generations of clinical use - but the exact how is often not well understood.
Researchers from Southern Medical University's Department of TCM recently conducted a rat model study to evaluate the biochemical functions of Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan. They divided the breast cancer model mice into 5 groups - a negative control, a tumor control group, a chemotherapy (paclitaxel - taxol, onxal) group, a herbal formula only group and a herbal formula with chemotherapy group.
Treating the mice over 3 weeks they measured tumor markers, energy levels (swim tests) and blood immune markers. All of the treatment groups (i.e. chemo, chemo+herbs, herbs alone) noticed marked decreased in tumor volume and increases in overall energy levels. The best outcomes were observed in the combination approach of Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan with Paclitaxel.
Researchers noted that the herbal treatment group had lower levels of oxidative stress - malondialdehyde (MDA) and superoxide dismutase (SOD). And they concluded that the herbal formula bu zhong yi qi wan "has the potential of alleviating paclitaxel chemotherapy-related fatigue in 4 T1 breast cancer mice by reducing the serum levels of TNF-α and modulating the level of MDA and the SOD activity."
Previous studies have shown other beneficial effects of Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan with regards to cancer treatment. One study found the formula offered radioprotective effects against radiation therapy. Another rat model study more closely evaluated the metabolic affects of the formula which help to show in more exact biochemical terms how it helps with fatigue and digestive issues.
Clinically I have seen great recoveries from post chemo related issues with Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan, along with proper acupuncture treatment. Clinically we also the formula to help keep a patients blood counts up so that may continue chemo therapy if they are too low to continue. All in all a very important formula and it is nice to see the underlying biochemical functions being explored.
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