The information provided here is not a replacement for a doctor. You shouldn't use it for the purpose of self-diagnosing or self-medicating but rather so you can have a more informed discussion with a professional TCM practitioner.
Possible causes and remedies:
In Chinese Medicine, radiation therapy side effects can be associated with two so-called "patterns of disharmony". Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted. It is not equivalent to the Western concept of "disease", as a matter of fact here radiation therapy side effects can be caused by two different patterns.
To understand whether someone's radiation therapy side effects might be caused by a given pattern, one needs to look for signs and symptoms associated with the pattern beyond what one might typically experience from radiation therapy side effects alone. For instance when radiation therapy side effects is caused by the pattern Lung Yin Deficiency, patients also experience symptoms such as dry cough, weak voice, dry mouth and dry throat. Similarly, patients with Lung Yin Deficiency typically exhibit rapid (Shu), empty (Xu) or floating (Fu) pulses as well as a red tongue with complete absence of coating.
We've listed below a description of the two patterns associated with radiation therapy side effects so that you can start to get an understanding of the various possibilities according to Chinese Medicine.
Once identified, patterns are often treated using herbal formulas. Drinking herbal infusions is the most common remedy in Chinese Medicine, together with acupuncture. Here we detail below Mai Men Dong Tang, a formula that can help treat the patterns Lung Yin Deficiency and Stomach Yin Deficiency.
The Lungs is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Lungs in Chinese Medicine
Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)
Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating
Tongue color: Red
Exterior Heat and Dryness can invade the Lungs and exhausts the Body Fluids. If it is not dealt with for a long time, it leads to Lung Yin Deficiency. Other factors can cause this pattern such as the Deficiency of Kidneys or Stomach Yin as well as prolonged Lung Qi Deficiency due to excessive smoking or use of voice. Emotional stress such as sadness and grief may also deplete Lung Qi and Yin.
Empty Heat symptoms appear if the Lung Yin Deficiency condition is not treated for a while. Patients can feel malar flush, low-grade fever as well as Heat in the palms and chest, especially in the evenings.
The treatment principle is to tonify Lung Yin, nourish Body Fluids and clear Empty Heat if it is needed.
The Stomach is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Stomach in Chinese Medicine
Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)
Tongue coating: Partial absence of coating
Tongue color: Red
Symptoms: Thirst Retching Dry mouth Hiccuping Dry throat Dry stools Constipation Poor appetite Slight thirst Bleeding gums Epigastic pain Epigastric pain Feeling of hunger Feeling of fullness Hot palms and soles Feeling of heat in the afternoon
The Stomach is responsible for receiving foods and drinks, ripening them and sending them to the Spleen for further digestion. Therefore, the Stomach is the origin of Body Fluids. It is also an Organ that likes Cold and Dampness which are both Yin characteristics. Stomach Yin Deficiency harms the Organ's functions and cause Dryness and Heat. As a result, symptoms such as thirst, dry stools, dry mouth and dry throat appear.
However, this is just Empty Heat due to lacking of Yin (and not the Excess of Yang), so the feeling of Heat often only happens in the afternoons or evenings. The patients experiences thirst or hunger but there is no desire to drink or eat, or they only drink in small sips. They also prefer warm liquids and their appetite is poor. Due to lack of Body Fluids, there is constipation with dry stools. Retching and hiccups may occur as Stomach's Qi downward function is impaired.
Unbalanced diet and bad eating habits are the major reasons for this pattern. The patients may often consume spicy and acrid foods, which deplete Stomach Fluids and Yin. Prolonged irregular eating habits also have similar negative impact, such as eating on the run, skipping meals, eating while working, having late meals or working right after eating. Finally chronic Stomach disease can also be a cause. In additional to above reasons, a high fever during an infectious disease or overconsumption of antibiotics can also lead to an acute Stomach Yin Deficiency.
The treatment principle is to nourish Stomach Yin and Body Fluids.
Source date: 220 AD
Number of ingredients: 6 herbs
Key actions: Nourishes the Stomach. Generates Body Fluids. Directs Rebellious Qi downward.
Because it is a formula often recommended to help with the patterns Lung Yin Deficiency and Stomach Yin Deficiency which are sometimes associated with radiation therapy side effects. If any of these patterns look like something you might suffer from, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).