TCM, Food Therapy, and Pro Cancer Condition

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Traditional Chinese Medicine, Food Therapy, and Pro Cancer Condition

by Helen Hu, OMD LAc

When we discuss how Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can help prevent cancer, we might think we have to take something to kill the cancerous cells in order to prevent those cells from growing into a tumor. I believe that by the time cancer cells begin to grow in a body, that body already has a “pro cancer condition” that creates a cancer-friendly environment. If the “pro cancer condition” is eliminated, the more chance that one can win the battle.  ys1

The concept of “pro cancer condition” is very broad. It is a condition of imbalance between our body and our living environment (such as extreme sun exposure, cold, hot, dampness, or pollution), and an imbalance of our internal organs.

The cells in our bodies need a healthy, nourishing, and non-toxic environment. Like the optimal soil conditions necessary for seeds to grow, our cells require the right temperature and ph-balance to function normally. No matter how good the “seeds” are, they cannot grow well in a bad soil. Similarly, our cells cannot function normally in a pro cancer condition, a condition that increases the chance of someone producing cancer cells.

Another part of the pro cancer condition results from an imbalance within internal organs, which primarily derives from an unhealthy diet, life style and stress. These imbalances can create phlegm or stagnate the blood or Qi (energy). If there is blockage in these areas, both congestion and deficiency will occur – as if a river was blocked; one side would result in congestion, the other side would be void of water (deficiency). Congested water for a long time will turn into a rancid pound, like a lump starting to grow in the body. And the same time, the deficiency side of Blockage River has no fresh water flowing like a body has no circulation without providing nutrients to organs. In the Pro cancer condition, organs loose their balance and the body does not have the strong immunity necessary to clean up the toxins, thereby creating a weak defense against cancer cells.

What are the indications that our body’s immune system has started to weaken?

TCM believes that our body’s strongest defense comes from good and free flowing qi (energy) within and among all five important organs: heart, liver, spleen, lung and kidney. Each organ’s defensive energy will guard certain parts of the body. We need to pay attention to our bodies, to identify the signs and symptoms that indicate our bodies’ immune systems are weak. Here are some indications:

Easily catch colds and the development of allergies or herpes are related to the decline of lung organ defensive energy.

  1. Easily fatigued, a bland taste in the mouth, or prone to diarrhea indicates a weakness of spleen organ.
  2. Skin changes (with more small red moles especially around wrist and abdominal), easily angered, short temper and impatience is related to liver organ imbalance
  3. Sensitive to cold, feeling cold and frequent urination indicates low kidney energy.
  4. Insomnia, anxiety, ulcer in mouth, and no motivation to participate activities indicates weak heart energy

What should we do if we start to show signs of immunity weakness?

Our immunity gradually decreases with age. The first step in strengthening our immunity is to correct our unhealthy life style that comprises our immunity.

As a first step, one’s basic life style needs to be modified:

  1. Sleep: It is very important to have at least a good 7 hours of sleep per night for people after middle age. In Chinese Medicine, it is believed that night time is yin time. The body is rebuilding during this time and restoring body energy and substance that we consume during the day time (yang time). Long term sleep deprivation causes the body to lose the time necessary to rejuvenate. If the immunity is compromised, it decreases the lymphocytes numbers and liver detoxification process.
  2. Unhealthy emotion: constant worry, depression, negative thinking and prone to become upset easily by little things. All these emotions can directly or indirectly impact the production and maturity of immune cells.
  3. Sedentary life style: recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.
  4. Excessive drinking and smoking: both can comprise the activity of NK (nature killer) cells. It decreases the body’s anti-viral capabilities.


Chinese Food Therapy:

Chinese food therapy is a very important part of TCM. Restoring and nourishing the body by using food therapy is the best way to be proactive in prevention.

If one sees signs of pro cancer condition in the body, there are several basic food therapies we can do daily

1.  When one sees signs of Lung energy deficiency:

Lung qi congeecongee_web5

  • Spring rice: 100g
  • Wild Chinese Yam (Dioscorca Opposita Radix) : fresh 100g ( dry : 30g)
  • Bai he (Lily bulb): fresh 100g ( dry 30 g)
  • Astragalus: 20 g

Make with water; cook all ingredients until they are soft and smooth. Serve as breakfast daily.

2. Weakness of Spleen Organs

  • One cucian carp fish tail (Carassius auratus) 150 g.
  • Dry ginger: 10g
  • Dry tangerine peel: 5g
  • Pepper: 1g
  • Sha ren (Cardamon): 3 g

Mix all spices and fish with small amount of salt. Cook with water. Drink the soup and eat the fish. Once a day for 2 week as course of treatment.


3. Liver organ imbalance:

Fist step to alleviate liver imbalance is to stop smocking and drinking. Then, with TCM food therapy, to recovery liver from damages.

a) Go Ji berry Congee 

  • Spring rice 100g
  • Go Ji berry 30 pieces
  • Sesame seed (50 g. baked to brown in pans, then crush into powder)

Cooked rice and Go Ji berry in water until soup becomes smooth; before serving add sesame powder and vitamin B1 powder Take once a day for 7-10 days as a course of treatment.

 b) Mushroom Date soup:

  • Black fungus mushroom: 15 g (Soak in water until soft. Cut into small strips.)
  • White fungus mushroom: 15 g (Soak in water until soft. Cut into small strips.)
  • Chinese red dates: 15 pieces

Stir fry all ingredients for a short time (about one minute) then add 100 cc water and cover. Slowly cook for 5-8 minutes to make soup, then add salt, a few drops of sesame oil and green onion (cut into small pieces for flavor) right before serving.


4.  Kidney energy compromised:

Lotus Seed and Ginger Congee Congee

  • Organic Black Rice 100g
  • Astragals: 30 黄芪
  • Walnuts: 20 g. 核桃
  • Eucommia Bark: 10 g. 杜仲
  • Dry Ginger: 10g
  • Cinnamon: 5g 肉桂

. Take daily for one month as course of treatment.

Put above ingredients in a pot with water. Cook for 2-4hr over moderate heat. Best way to cook it is to use crock pot filled with cool water and cook overnight until everything becomes softened. Take the congee as breakfast or dinner along other kinds of food.

Serve warm as breakfast.


5.  Heart and sleep problem

  • Rice and Whole Wheat Porridge (Congee)
  • Spring rice (or sushi rice) 100g
  • Whole wheat (whole grain) 100g
  • Chinese red dates: 6 pieces (without kernel) 大枣
  • Stir fry sour date kernels: 10g 炒酸枣仁

Cooking instructions: Wash whole wheat and boil in water for 30 minutes. Use the wheat juice (discharge wheat) to cook rice, dates and the sour date kernels to make congee.

Serve: Take 1-2 times per day for 5-6 days

In Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic, Dr. Hu has used one of her Chicken Soup recipes to restore overall body immunity, body energy, and promote well being. It has been used by many patients whom undergo chemotherapy with fatigue and low immunity, patients with chronic conditions, and in recovery for illness. For people without ailments, it is best taken during winter time to promote health and strengthen the body’s immunity and well being.


Here is the Dr. Hu’s Therapeutic Chicken Soup Receipts

  • One Whole Organic ChickenSoup
  • Astragalus: 30g 黄芪
  • Chinese Wild Yam: 30g
  • Cordyceps capsule: 4-6 capsules 冬虫夏草胶囊
  • Shitake mushroom: 6-7 pieces 花菇
  • Chinese red dates: 2-4 pieces 大枣
  • Vegetables: as you wish
  • Ginger
  • Salt

Please put Astragalus and Cordyceps inside chicken stomach before cooking.

Cooking in moderate temperature for 2 – 4 hours and drink soup.

Eat meat as you wish. You can use the broth for other kinds of soup.

5 days as course of treatment.


Dr. Helen Hu

Dr. Helen Hu

Helen H. Hu, OMD, L.Ac Dr. Hu, originally from Beijing China, has studied Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) since the age of 12. A Cardiologist and Practitioner of integrated medicine for 9 years. She immigrated to the United States in 1991. In 1997 Dr. Hu passed the “United States Licensing Medical Exam” while simultaneously obtaining her Oriental Medical Degree (OMD). Dr. Hu is a specialist in Herbal medicine, nationally licensed in Acupuncture and has a Philosophy of life structured around Oriental traditions. She utilizes her expertise in these treatments along with a passion and wisdom for Longevity to treat a variety of health conditions.  You can find more information.  To find more information about her, go to

Dr. Helen Hu at Traditional Chinese Medical Clinic promotes prevention and well being and provides consultation of Chinese food therapy and tea therapy for individual conditions.   For a consultation, please contact Dr.Hu at (619) 226-6506 or Email:
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