A team of researchers has found an association between breast cancer survival and two proteins that, when present in the blood in high levels, are indicators of inflammation. Using data from the Health, Eating, Activity and Lifestyle (HEAL) study sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, the researchers found that breast cancer patients with elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and serum amyloid A (SAA) both produced by the liver as an inflammatory response were approximately two to three times more likely to die sooner or have their cancer return than those patients who had lower levels of these proteins, regardless of the patient’s age, tumor stage, race, body mass index, or history of previous cardiovascular issues. The results of this study were published online, May 26, 2009, in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The study goes on the report that these proteins may be significant survival markers whether or not cancer is present. This is very interesting to herbalists.
Traditional Asian medicine recognizes that inflammation can go beyond our normal immune defenses to trouble internal organs and blood production. TCM traditional Chinese medicine considers “fire poisons” or “heat in the blood” very damaging. The recommended cooling herbs reduce inflammation and damage done by blood that breaks out of blood vessels. They “cool the blood” and “nourish fluids” and are traditionally used for reducing rashes, nosebleeds, spitting up blood and blood in the urine or BM. Other signs and symptoms are typically low grade fever in afternoon and evening, night sweats, dry throat, and reddish and/or purple tongue. As you remember from my little article on tongue diagnosis – the tongue is an internal organ we can observe. It carries in it many blood vessels that indicate the state of our internal organs, vitality and blood.
If herbs can be used to “cool” the blood and reduce inflammation and damage to liver, kidney, lungs, and heart (thought of as YIN) then why not use cooling herbs to rid the body of excess acids, poisons that may be associated with cancers? The above protein markers for cancer are made and secreted by the liver. Some cooling herbs used to reduce swelling and lumps and affect the liver may be very useful at least for prevention if not treatment of cancer. Consider the possibilities.
For example prunella vulgaris, Xia Ku Cao in Chinese is used to cool excess thyroid conditions, lumps in the throat and breast. It is cooling, relaxing, and cleansing. I do not know if it reduces production of those protein markers or other signs of cancer. Study needs to be done in that direction. Rehmannia glutinosa reduces liver stress as it enhances healthy blood production and moisturizes.
I do know that certain esoteric herbs (a euphemism for weird herbs like bat dung) are used in cancer treataments because that one is very high in vitamin A and “cools the blood.” Not as nice to use a prunella tea. But it does exist in capsules called Strong Xiao Jin Tan used to prevent and treat cancers.Other ingredients include myrrh to help dissolve lumps.
The point I want to make is an herbal combination may be a wise approach to prevent and treat cancers – if effective at all – because the combination will contain antitumor herbs to dissolve masses and antiiflammatory herbs to reduce toxins, acids and maybe even those proteins. A combination is more supportive of holistic balance because it aims to do more than knock out two proteins.
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