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Interesting Cases

Using toxins to treat toxins

A 50 year-old female recovered from lung cancer then developed carcinoma on her wrist.  Her wrist was extremely swollen and covered in open, fluid filled, odorous wounds.  The patient decided to come and see me because of the pain.  Fortunately, in just a few sessions the pain was greatly reduced, and the patient continued to see me twice a week for more than four months.  She was responding well to treatment with the exception of feeling extremely weak.  You can imagine what it would be like to always have painful wounds on your wrist.  I told her that as long as her body was still releasing fluid from the wounds and the detoxification period was still taking place that she would be ok.  She had to give her body a chance to clear the toxins from the lung cancer. 

In the past, acupuncturist and herbalist used special herbs to wash certain points, then burn moxa over the points, thus purposely creating an open wound and promoting the release of toxins.  In a couple of weeks, the wound would heal but leave a scar.  This was considered one of the best immune boosting techniques during ancient times. 

The patient went to see her MD and her doctor discovered there was an infection in her wrist and wanted to surgically remove her forearm.  She was scared and didn’t know what to do, so she called me from the hospital.  I told her that I really didn’t know what to say.  I also told her that it was ok to use antibiotics even through an IV, but that I didn’t think it was a good idea to amputate her arm.  I told her that surgery might be effective in controlling the infection quickly, but what happens if the lung cancer returns.  I also suggested that maybe her body’s natural detoxification process was responsible for keeping the lung cancer at bay as it was forcing the immune system to work.  From my vantage point, the infection on her wrist and the exudative fluid was indicative of the immune system working, plus the lung meridian and major lung points were also located on her wrist, so it would make sense that this area was releasing toxins.  Unfortunately, the patient was depressed and scared and decided to have the surgery.  A few days later I called her and she was very happy because the surgery went smooth and she felt much stronger.  Sadly, two weeks after her surgery the lung cancer returned and a few days after that she died. 

It is not too difficult to be a good Western or Orient medical doctor but it is very difficult to be a good healer.  This takes more than textbook knowledge and requires critical thinking and excellent problem solving skills.  A doctor must be able to see the truth behind the surface and the same can be said for the patient.  What may seem like the body falling part can be the body’s own natural immune system attempting to eradicate the pathogenic factor.  And although it might be painful and an extremely difficult process; sometimes we need to let the body run its own natural healing course.   

In this patient’s case, it seems that the lung cancer and her wrist infection were unrelated issues.  But, the deeper you delve and attempt to see the entire body as a whole rather than the sum of its parts, you may see how intrinsically these two conditions were connected, and in fact her wrist infection was keeping her cancer at bay.  In traditional Chinese medicine we view this as the body naturally “using toxins to treat toxins”.