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The New Trend of Anti-Cancer Herbal Mixture Medicine Print E-mail
By Yao Jian Jiang
((Published in the May 2006 issue of Asia Weekly)
Translated by ITN Translation Agency 

For a long time, western medicine and Chinese medicine have been two distinct blocks. Though Chinese physicians do not generally reject western medicine, general practitioners draw a distinct line between themselves and Chinese physicians. However, this situation is changing for the better because Chinese medicine is starting to get international recognition, especially in the areas of idiopathic disorders, or where western medicine is simply inadequate. Doctors begin to realise that they need to turn to some alternative medicine in order to cure their patients of these ‘untreatable’ problems, and a good choice would be Chinese medicine. Apparently the global Chinese herbal market attained USD35 billion in 2006, and has been increasing at 10-12% annually ever since. There are 124 countries in the world that embrace Chinese medicine whole-heartedly.

According to the Taiwan Annual Herbal Chronicle, the herbal market in Taiwan has made a new record of NT$25 billion. Recently western doctors in Taiwan have been researching on the anti-cancer and immunity-boosting effects of herbs using highly scientific methodologies. Out of these efforts came Tian Xian Liquid (TXL), which has been tested by mainstream medical faculties. Numerous long term trials have demonstrated its beneficial effects and thesis written by the research fellows adopted by the American authorities. Experts concur that this product would be an international hit that would help raise the Chinese medicine status of Taiwan.

Cancer has been a great medical poser, a special challenge to aspiring doctors. It is now a general approach to adopt both western and Chinese medicine to treat it. The senior doctor of Taiwan University Hospital, Dr. Sun An Di, also an expert in microbiological immunity, has been involved in lots of immunological studies and clinical trials. He joined the herbal research team on immunology and cancer control 13 years ago. He felt that the philosophy of western medicine centres around Greek and Roman tenet of ‘man can conquer everything’. The philosophy is against nature. Hence when there is an excessive immunological response, steroid is prescribed to suppress the immune system, whereby the latter is being compromised. The regular answers to cancer are surgical removal, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. They are no doubt very effective, but the last 2 methods will harm the immune system and produce a large quantity of free radicals that tend to cause a relapse. Dr. Sun has therefore tried to look for an alternative to break through the bottleneck.

Dr. Sun’s office at the Taiwan University Hospital is overwhelmed with books, while the wall is fully decorated with trophies and medals for medical achievement. It was here that Dr. Sun and his team started his long quest for the cure to cancer. 7 years ago, Dr. Sun accepted the appointment of Qing Xing Foundation of Medicine, Culture & Education to investigate the anti-cancer effects of TXL. He immediately formed a research team consisting of other microbiologists, pathologists and oncologists to go about it, and arrived at the conclusion that TXL is effective against cancer.

According to his research, TXL is made up of a potpourri of natural anti-cancer herbs. It will inhibit cancer cells directly and prevent their spread, as well as auto-regulate the immune system and reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Dr. Sun was so motivated in the research not only because of the cancer bottleneck encountered by western medicine, but also due to his strong desire to let the patients live as happily as possible after the medical treatments. It is his belief that a doctor’s calling is to help the people with as much compassion as possible, similar to the philosophy of the Bodhisattvas.

Fuelled by scientific curiosity on TXL’s mode of action, Dr. Sun and his team spent 7 long years to study the product, with the first 3 years investigating its actions on the immune system, and the next 3 years on its anti-cancer actions, including basic and animal trials. The last year of the research found them investigating the effect of TXL on cancer cell suppression, onslaught and metastasis.

Dr. Sun’s team used two types of blood samples for their basic research—one from patients with autoimmune disorders, and the other from patients with abnormal T cell functions. The monocytes and pure T cells in the blood samples were separated out. TXL was then diluted 100 and 1000 times to investigate their effects on immune responses. Dr. Sun declared, “Our 3-year study involving various methods all pointed to one conclusion, and that is TXL has an auto-regulation effect, i.e. dual regulation effects on the immune system.” What the team discovered was that when the immune cells were over-stimulated, adding TXL of 1000x dilution would calm the cells. On the other hand, when the immune cells were unresponsive, adding TXL of 1000x dilution would stimulate them into a stronger response. When the immune cells are moderately responsive, adding TXL of 1000x dilution did not evoke any more responses. Dr. Sun said, “You don’t get this effect with normal western drugs, because each drug only exerts a single action. However, being a mixed compound, herbs like TXL can exert dual actions or auto-regulation.”

In the next 3 years, his team investigated TXL’s secret in suppressing and killing cancer cells. They chose the 10 killers—stomach cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, liver cancer, cancer of the nose and throat, leukaemia, breast cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer etc for their investigation. Using 4 of the most advanced methodologies—Hoechst 33258, TUNEL, DNA slicing and flow cytometry analysis, and based on 2 normal control groups, they managed to prove that TXL was able to kill cancer cells without harming any normal cells. Dr. Sun explained, “Our studies have shown that TXL can kill cancer cells through 2 major pathways, by activating capase 8 and capase 9, which in turn activates capase 3 that goes into the nucleus of a cancer cell and destroys its DNA.” Dr. Sun discovered that TXL also exerted other actions. “We blocked the 2 major pathways and found that TXL was still able to kill off 40-50% of cancer cells. This means that TXL exerts various anti-cancer effects. It’s very interesting.”

The research team also conducted some TXL trials on cancer rats under 6 different conditions. He remarked, “In general TXL has reduced the tumour size in cancer rats significantly.” A major breakthrough happened last year. The team discovered that for cancer rats that were given TXL, their tumours had shrunk considerably or disappeared totally, whereas for those that were given saline, their cancer cells had proliferated. Repeated experiments showed that TXL would enhance the T Killer cells in cancer rats, a salient proof that their immune function had been boosted. Dr. Sun concluded, “TXL auto-regulates the immune system on the one hand, and directly kills off cancer cells on the other. These effects have been proven in animal studies. Apart from that, T Killer cells, which are specific cancer cell killers, are enhanced, meaning more potent anti-cancer activities.”

Next they conducted some other experiments using a membrane. Some nutrients that would elicit cancer cell movement were left underneath the membranes to induce movement. When different concentrations of TXL were added to the nutrients, it was found that cancer cell movement was suppressed to varying degrees. When a layer of Matrigel was added to each membrane and the same experiment repeated, it was found that TXL could even suppress the attack by cancer cells. In addition, TXL could also suppress MMP-2, MMP-9 and uPA actions, thereby inhibiting cancer cell metastasis. The team were extremely enthralled by these findings.

The cancer cells can spread fast through their ability to flow with the blood and the ability to grow new blood vessels to rob nutrients. Dr. Sun hoped that subsequent studies would witness TXL’s power to suppress cancer cells’ ability to develop new blood vessels.

The team’s studies have been published as a few theses and adopted by a renowned medical journal in the USA. Two theses entitled ‘The auto-regulatory effect of TXL on monocytes and T cells in peripheral blood in patients with recurrent mouth ulcers’, ‘The auto-regulatory effect of TXL on antigen-induced enzyme production in patients with mouth ulcers’ were published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 2004 Vol.32, No.2, p221-234, and 2005 Vol.33, No.4, p559-571. Another thesis entitled ‘The study on the suppression and induced death of cancer cells by a Chinese herb TXL’ was published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2005 Vol.11, No.2, p245-256. There will be more papers to come. It can be said that Dr. Sun’s research work is a milestone achievement that propels Chinese medicine into the world of global medicine.

The same miracle transpired in another research centre. Dr. Lai Ji Ming, the Executive Director of the Taiwan Cancer Foundation, and a fellow of the National Hygiene Research Institute, had organised a research team to study TXL. He said, “Preliminary findings have been very encouraging. TXL exhibits obvious suppressive action on various cancers.” Dr. Lai began to take note of TXL in November last year. In his preliminary studies, he was inspired by TXL’s anti-cancer effects specifically in breast cancer, liver cancer, leukaemia etc. Dr. Lai pointed out that it was absolutely unthinkable in the past to explain the anti-cancer effects of Chinese medicine using the ‘target site approach’. He was happy to welcome the use of western research techniques on Chinese medicine evaluation. “Maybe the auspicious time for Chinese medicine has finally arrived.”

As a specialist in malignant tumours, Dr. Lai Ji Ming has diagnosed and treated thousands of cancer patients with proper treatments. He admitted that he had been helpless in most cases. The inadequacy of western medicine has prompted him to look for other solutions. “If we follow the systematic approach of western cancer treatment regime, the end result is always a relapse.” He believes that the only way out is to adopt alternative medicine, with special reference to Chinese medicine, as a mainstream treatment regime in western medicine to combat cancer, a trend that is affecting Taiwan too. He indicates that Chinese medicine is a vast expanse of unchartered territory. Combined with modern medicine, it is bound to unleash its awesome power in real life. “In the treatment of cancer, besides relieving the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, plus the control of cancer pain for a better quality of life, we can see now that Chinese medicine can also play a more active role such as their potential as a target-specific cure for cancer.”

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