Western Medicine Recognizes Effects of Chinese Herbs on Prostate Cancer

Americans with late stage prostate cancer would now be given an herbal therapy from China.

The herbal compound, known as PC-SPES in America, includes extracts from 8 herbs. Research showed the formula has excellent effects for prostate cancer, especially for patients who have exhausted all conventional means of treatment.

According to the Nov.1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the formula does significantly reduce prostate specific antigen ( PSA ) levels, improve bone scans in patients with both androgen-dependent and independent prostate cancer. Dr. William Oh, researcher at Boston Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, has seen some amazing results from prostate cancer patients taking Chinese herbal formula. Of 23 patients unresponsive to the standard hormonal therapy, about 50% had PSA declines of more than 50%. Among those with androgen-dependent cancer, PSA levels reduced more than 80%.

Similar results were observed by Dr. Eric Small of the University of California in San Francisco. He tested 70 patients with prostate cancer. All patients who had responded to hormone therapy had a decline in their PSA levels of at least 50 % , and the non-responsive patients showed a similar decline.

Doctors now begin to use the herbal formula as routine therapy in clinical practice. David Agus, research director of the Prostate Cancer Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in LA, told WebMD, "I have some patients who've been on it for 2 years now, and I don't think they would still be alive without it." About 180,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed and 40,000 Americans died from it each year.

The formula PC-SPES consists of 8 common herbs widely used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, namely, Da Qing Ye, Licorice, San Qi, Reishi Mushroom, Baikai Skullcap, Chrysanthemum, Rabdosia Rubescens, and Saw Palmetto. How they together work such wonders is still a mystery for Western Medicine for many years to come. For Chinese, however, thousand of similarly effective formulas have been in wide use for centuries and have helped many millions of cancer patients each year. Ms. Caiping Lin, a Chinese herbal practitioner of Oriental Healing in Maple Shade, NJ, has been using various herbal formulas to successfully helping cancer patients for many years. A case study from her many cancer patients may yield some better understanding of how Chinese herbal formulas, together with other forms of therapies from Traditional Chinese Medicine, are used in her daily practice.

Jim was diagnosed in Oct.1995 with a very aggressive form of prostate cancer through tissue biopsy. He was operated on in Nov. 1995. The surgeons looked at the extent of cancer spread to his lymph system and decided to sew him up without doing anything. He was told to have a few months to live. But Jim and his wife Marsha did not want to give up the hope. A wide search by Marsha and talks with people in various medical fields convinced the couple that there were still other options without the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. They found out about Oriental Healing and Jim started herbal therapy and Tai Chi exercise program with Ms. Lin. Within 4 months after his operation, his PSA levels dropped from a high of 32 ( where 4 is normal ) to a range of 0.5 to 8.5. These fluctuations could be regulated by diet, as the couple found out by trying different foods and vitamins.

Jim retired in 1997,but he felt such vigor and energy that he worked several jobs for his son-in-law's environmental company that involved him driving to North Jersey every day and then working a full day before coming home. Apart from the Chinese herbal formulas from Ms. Lin to regulate and address his daily health concerns, Jim also does Chi Gong, a Chinese breathing exercise that works together with herbal medicine to keep his body free of toxins and thus free of cancer.

Caiping Lin has kept Jim's entire 5 year records of individual herbal formulas for his various needs at different stages. Jim had his first visit with Oriental Healing on 10-24-1995. He was given the routine 4 evaluations of Chinese medicine, including the tongue and pulse examinations. Based on the Chinese medical theory and individualized treatment, Ms. Lin then set down the principle of treatment. In Jim's case, the therapeutic goals at the time were to tonify kidney, strengthen spleen, clear heat and toxins, and dissolve cancer growth. His formulas consisted of 12 to 15 raw herbs and prepared in the form of tea. The kidney-tonifying and spleen-strengthening herbs belong to the Normalcy-supporting group with confirmed immune boosting effects. Of this herbal category, Jim took in succession red gingseng, huangchi, dangui, baishu, huaishan, shudi, duozon, and chuduan. Of anticancer and body cleansing herbs, Jim's list included sheshecao, banzhilian, shanchigu, zhulin, etc.

The raw herbs Jim took varied according to the body needs at different stages. Experienced herbal practitioners like Ms. Lin are able to determine when and how an herbal formula needs some adjustment or modification. For cancer patients, there is a greater urgency to constantly regulate the herbal formula as the disease evolves because of the limited time the patients may have and the rapidity of change the body may undergo in the disease process. For Jim, weekly adjustment of herbal formula for the first 2 to 3 months was essential for fast achieving clinical effects. As cancer condition and symptoms are better under control, the goal is to maintain the clinical effects. Then the formulas are not so often changed. Cancer patients often suffer from cold and flu due to lowered immune function and body resistance against diseases. At these times, the herbal formulas are completely different. Patients usually take 2-3 cups of herbal tea each day. Some herbs have bitter taste or unpleasant smell, but patients can grown accustomed to it. The faster and better clinical effects from the raw herbs over that of the capsuled herbal extracts also make raw herbal formulas the commonest and authoritative means of herbal therapy in China today especially for cancer people.

Interestingly, the herbs used for Jim are completely different from those used in PC-SPES. Yet both are effective for prostate cancer, a classical example of "A single disease may be treated by different formulas; and different diseases may be treated by a single formula." Chinese medicine puts emphasis on differential treatment based on individual constitution. For Jim and many other prostate cancer patients, their Yin and Yang levels may be quite different. Herbal doctors use different formulas to most effectively treat various patients of a same disease. This flexibility reveals remarkable strength of Chinese herbal formulas to deal with different demands of our bodies in health and diseases.

Another great value of Chinese herb medicine is its noted lack of side-effects. Unlike western drugs, Chinese herbs have the highest safety rate and lowest side-effects. Over thousands of years the Chinese learned to use different herbs in a formula to minimize the unwanted effects. In Caiping Lin's many years of herbal practice, there are no major side-effects reported. The formulas gauged for Jim's prostate cancer over 5 years are safe, stable, and without side-effects. When the same herb formula is used by different patients, there is much higher chance of side-effects. PC-SPES is reported to cause a few cases of pulmonary embolism, leg cramps, breast enlargement, fatigue and allergic reactions. All these side effects could be prevented if these patients' formula were tailored by herbal physicians according to their individual constitutions.

Now western medicine has rediscovered the value of a single ancient remedy for prostate cancer. It still has a long way to go before the full value of entire Chinese herb medicine is adequately recognized. There are no less than 10,000 Chinese formulas used to treat the whole spectrum of human health and disease. Americans can be benefitted enormously from this huge treasure from the Orient.

Jim's story was on Nov. 4, 1999, NJ Journal, Fox 29 Channel TV (Picture From the Interview 1 2 3).