Acupuncture can strengthen immunity and reduce side effects of conventional cancer treatments.
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs:
A Winning Addition to Cancer Care
Bastyr Center for Natural Health’s newest focused-care shift
provides acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine for cancer
patients, a growing approach at cancer clinics nationwide.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have been shown to
strengthen immunity, helping patients withstand chemotherapy
and other treatments with difficult side effects. They work by
boosting the body's inner strength, or "zheng qi" (pronounced "chee").
"In Chinese medicine, we don't treat cancer. We treat the body,"
says Angela Tseng, DAOM, LAc, a clinical supervisor at Bastyr
Center and a core faculty member in the School of Acupuncture
and Oriental Medicine at Bastyr University. "If the person's
immune system, or zheng qi, is strong,
they can cope with treatment better. We can help build their
resistance to illness."
Care providers at Bastyr Center collaborate with a patient's conventional
doctors. Bastyr providers can help
treat side effects of cancer treatment, such as fatigue, nausea,
vomiting, digestive complaints, insomnia, nerve damage and
"Take nausea for example," says Dr. Tseng. "A patient can be
on multiple medications but still experience nausea. With the
addition of acupuncture or Chinese herbs, we can better control
Care providers can also help cancer-free patients, or those with
cancer in remission, by strengthening their resistance to illness.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have been used in
treatment of cancer and related diseases for many years in China
and other countries. As the body of research supporting Chinese
medicine grows, more cancer centers are providing acupuncture
in conjunction with Western treatments.
The new shift takes place on Monday afternoons, when the clinic
already offers a naturopathic medicine shift focused on cancer
care. This allows clinicians to make referrals to colleagues in the
same building. It also allows patients to receive care from both
shifts in a single office visit.
"We want to keep things as convenient as possible for patients
who have multiple medical appointments during their week,"
says Dr. Tseng.
Clinicians on the Team Care shift are
licensed acupuncturists who are advanced graduate
students in Bastyr’s Doctor of
Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine program. They are supervised
by Ying Wang, MS, MD (China), LAc, a core faculty member at
Bastyr Center for Natural Health and Bastyr University. Dr. Wang
has also treated patients at Seattle Cancer Treatment & Wellness
What to Expect
Each visit will last 75 minutes. After an interview, the supervisor
and student clinicians develop a treatment plan tailored to the individual
patient. The treatment may include acupuncture, Chinese herbal
medicine and dietary recommendations, or referrals to other
practitioners, such as a naturopathic doctor (ND), a nutritionist or
Depending on the patient, the treatment plan can be short-term
to work on specific complaints or long-term to support the
patient during different stages of their cancer treatment.
"Our goal is to promote healing and improve the quality of life
for cancer patients," says Dr. Tseng.
Make an appointment in the acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine cancer care shift.