Overview of Current TCM Practice and Potential Impacts on Conventional Therapies
The control of cancer progression, relief of pain, and improvement of the quality of life of patients have been continuing endeavours of both traditional and conventional medicine. Amongst various traditional medicines, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurvedic medicine are two of the oldest and most popular alternative medicines known to the public. TCM is widely used in China, where it is integrated in conventional oncology practice in several large hospitals. Ayurvedic medicine (addressed in a separate chapter) originated in India where it is widely practiced as well as in other countries such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Nepal. The management of chronic disease such as cancer by these traditional medicines relies on complex theories and concepts, described in virtually every textbook on alternative and complementary medicine. The treatment approaches are based primarily on the use of herbal and oil-based formulations, for which efficacies remain surrounded by controversies and lack of proven evidence. Yet, recorded observational facts, particularly in China and India where traditional medicine is often integrated with conventional therapies in a hospital setting, are that alternative medicine can achieve significant benefits in improving a patient’s quality of life when practiced with integrity by experienced practitioners. As well, ingredients of medicinal formulations used, including herbs and marine products, are an undeniable source of novel anticancer agents, some of which are discussed in greater detail in this book.