Esophageal Canceraccording to TCM

Symptom families: Neoplasms, Tumors and Cancer, Esophageal Disorders

Parent symptom: Cancer

Sub-symptom(s): Early Stages Esophageal Cancer

Did you mean? Throat Cancer

What is Esophageal Cancer?

Esophageal cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the esophagus, the long, hollow tube that runs from your throat to your stomach. It's responsible for moving the food you swallow from the back of your throat to your stomach for digestion. Esophageal cancer typically starts in the cells lining the inside of the esophagus and can occur anywhere along the esophagus.

This cancer is categorized into two main types: esophageal squamous-cell carcinoma, which is more common in the upper and middle part of the esophagus, and esophageal adenocarcinoma, which is more common in the lower part of the esophagus. Early detection is critical for treatment success, yet early stages often present with minimal to no symptoms.

How does TCM view Esophageal Cancer?

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, esophageal cancer, like other cancers, is seen as a manifestation of an underlying imbalance within the body’s energetic system. TCM does not isolate the disease to just the site of the tumor but considers it a result of complex interactions between genetic predispositions, environmental factors, and emotional health.

The diagnosis and treatment focus on restoring balance and harmony within the body, enhancing the flow of Qi (vital energy), and supporting the body’s natural defenses. TCM employs a holistic approach, utilizing herbal formulas, acupuncture, dietary recommendations, and lifestyle changes to address esophageal cancer.

Causes of Esophageal Cancer According to TCM

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) interprets esophageal cancer through the lens of internal disharmonies and imbalances, particularly focusing on the patterns of Rebellious Qi, Phlegm-Fluids in the Stomach and Small intestine, and Rebellious Liver Qi invading the Stomach. These patterns are indicative of a disruption in the natural downward movement of Stomach Qi, leading to symptoms such as reflux, discomfort, and potentially contributing to the development of diseases like esophageal cancer.

Rebellious Qi refers to the Qi (vital energy) moving in the wrong direction, while Phlegm-Fluids accumulation points to metabolic disturbances. Both are seen as underlying factors that, when combined with the invasion of Liver Qi into the stomach, create a fertile ground for illness.

TCM Herbal Formulas for Esophageal Cancer

In addressing esophageal cancer, TCM prioritizes the restoration of proper Qi flow and the elimination of Phlegm-Fluids. The formula Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang, which features Inula Flowers (Xuan Fu Hua) as a key ingredient, is specifically designed for this purpose.

It is known for its ability to harmonize the stomach, direct Rebellious Qi downward, dissolve Phlegm, and clear the Stomach and Small Intestine of fluids that obstruct their function. This approach not only targets the symptoms associated with esophageal cancer but also addresses the root causes according to TCM principles, aiming to restore balance and support the body's natural healing processes.

Explore below some TCM herbal formulas used to address esophageal cancer, organized by formula type.

  • By Formula Type
  • Formulas for a rebellious qi
  • Formulas that promote qi movement

TCM Herbs for Esophageal Cancer

Explore below some TCM herbs used to address esophageal cancer, organized by herb category.

  • By Herb Category
  • Herbs that clear heat and relieve toxicity
  • Warm herbs that transform phlegm and stop cough
  • Tonic herbs for yin deficiency
  • Cool herbs that transform phlegm and stop cough