ancient perspectives

Ancient Taoist saying:

"Food is better than herbs,
Qi is better than food, and
Emptiness is better than Qi.
"

Many women with breast cancer search for information regarding special diets and foods that can help them recover. If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer and are looking for hope and help on your healing journey, you’ve come to a special place.

There are several different ways food can help heal. Understanding the ancient secrets of how foods heal can help you tap into their true healing power. This section of breastcancer.com offers unique information on how and why foods help. We would like to introduce you to the amazing healing aspects of food, so that you can receive their tremendous benefits.

Understanding Foods: Beyond Physical Properties

From the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) perspective, the healing properties of foods go beyond the physical properties of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, calories, etc. to their spiritual and energetic aspects. Once you understand this ancient wisdom, we think you will appreciate the incredible potential that foods possess to enhance your healing journey.

Fundamental TCM Concepts about Food
  1. Your relationship with food is an individual one. Whatever reaction you have is only about you; it’s not about the food itself. It’s about your connection to that particular food. When the body-mind-spirit connection is disrupted, allergies, digestive disturbances, large and small, and more are signals of an internal imbalance or organ dysfunction that need your attention.

  2. If your digestive system is weak, no matter what you put into your Stomach*, you will not receive the maximum benefit from anything you eat. First, the system itself has to be in good working order and then it has to function properly with other organs.

    From the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) perspective, the Stomach’s main job is to process foods and partner with the Spleen to extract nutritive essence, which is sent to the Lung. The Lung must function well too because its job is to send nutritive essence to other organs to support their functions. Stomach issues likes bloating, constipation, loose stool, loss of appetite, etc. are direct messages that your body is having problems performing this organ’s normal functions. Extracting the benefits of the physical properties of food—vitamins, minerals, calories—requires a healthy Stomach function.

  3. It is the spirit and essence of the food that heals, not its physical properties.
Unless you support your digestive function, it’s very difficult to process and extract the nutrition for healing. If you have breast cancer, you must work hard to keep your Stomach function healthy. Even before beginning chemotherapy or radiation, many women already exhibit signs of a Stomach dysfunction. These signs are fairly easily identified – bloating after meals, loose stool or constipation, distention, among others. Your Stomach is already letting you know it’s having trouble keeping up with its job!

At this time, you should minimize processed foods and try to maximize your intake of fresh natural and organic foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables.

No matter how you use food for healing, it can help you go through the cycles of chemotherapy and radiation successfully, but food can never create a miracle. Eating properly is a positive step to creating a sound healing plan. Foods can help your whole body work together, but it’s not the food itself that heals. Without repairing the disruption in the body-mind spirit connection, miracles are almost impossible.

Healing Foods in Healing Recipes

If your practitioner prefers that you do not take herbal treatments during chemotherapy and radiation, we’ve included some healing recipes in this section that use food as medication. These can help you strengthen your Stomach function. If you’re lucky enough to meet a high-level practitioner who practices herbal therapy, he or she may help you significantly with your condition. If you also add self-acupressure and Qigong, you’re already creating a powerful self-healing plan!

From the TCM perspective, adding herbs and acupuncture —especially during chemotherapy and radiation—can support your all-important digestive system. Chemotherapy and radiation have a severe impact on the digestive function—readily seen in their side effects of nausea, diarrhea, indigestion, lack of appetite, and more.

Support Your Digestive System

Unless you strongly support your digestive system before and during treatments, you will also spend a great deal of Qi or vital energy to regain your digestive function after chemotherapy and radiation. At this time, do everything you can to maximize your energy so you can gain the most nutrition from everything you eat.

The following analogy from the banking world is one way to understand how your digestive system functions. Your Qi, vital energy, and blood travel together through your body’s invisible energy pathways as inseparable partners. They are supported by the Stomach, which is like a "checking" account. This account is replenished daily by the foods you eat. The daily intake of foods keeps the account solvent, i.e., the whole body operating. If your checking account has little money or becomes overdrawn, you’ll bounce an energy check and the extra Qi or energy will be taken automatically from your “savings” account, which is your Kidney. This is where you have a limited, irreplaceable energy account. Once this account is wiped out, look out!

In dealing with breast cancer, the big job is to bring life and energy back to your digestive system. If you have had chronic Stomach issues like bloating, loose stool, acid reflux, food allergies before being diagnosed with breast problems, you are facing a serious problem. This dysfunction has taken years to develop. Adding the harsh chemical impact of chemotherapy and radiation will further compromise your digestive system. Your body will face a major struggle to recover. Simply put, the Stomach cannot do its jobs well because there isn’t enough Qi or "juice" to power its operations!

Without additional healing support from herbs or acupuncture to improve Stomach function, many patients are incapable of continuing chemotherapy or radiation. They have to wait until their immune system rebounds. If the patient has good insurance, special booster injections can be given to help stimulate the immune system. Their purpose though is to prepare the patient for the next round of toxic chemicals. And so it goes. How many times can the body take this kind of punishment without support? If you are lucky enough to get through chemotherapy and radiation, there are other issues to be aware of—the most important thing is to understand who you are, where you are and how you are. You are unique. You can only do what’s best for you. The state of your emotional, physical, mental and spiritual well-being is what’s most important.

We hope this special perspective on the digestive system and food will help you achieve the best benefits for your individual situation.