Steve Coster | Ep #23 | Using Traditional Chinese Medicine in Cancer Recovery



hi everyone today we have our guest steve costa who’s a traditional chinese medicine practitioner who specializes in cancer rehabilitation and fertility and is based in essex london

um welcome steve to adoptive podcast we are so excited to have you hi tasha uh thanks for inviting me uh welcome steve so as um as your speciality we would like to speak today uh about cancer patients in recovery and to the start of our conversation i would like to bring up this uh this research finding from the cancer research uk uh which says that around 55 000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the uk and one in seven uh women in the uk will develop breast cancer in their lifetime and interestingly uh cancer research uk suggests that acupuncture is a method that may help with some symptoms and side effects of cancer or its treatments so what would you be able to shed some light on this um on this finding uh and your experience hi gunning um yeah so uh it’s interesting isn’t it from yeah it’s quite frightening statistic yeah and i think from you know from a chinese medical point of view it just it just highlights um how different everyone is and how how everyone reacts to disease and not necessarily disease that the everyone reacts to the environment in a different way because why would one person can you know develop cancer and another person wouldn’t so you know obviously there’s um genetics are involved and what we inherit from our from our parents and and our you know genealogy but um you know you we have to take into account um you know dietary matters and pollution um emotions you know how how do we all uh react to to everyday life you know so it’d be interesting to see see statistics uh cancer statistics in years ahead and whether it changed during the the code pandemic and and during lockdown the stress that that created and obviously there’s going to be issues regarding diagnosis and treatment that was probably delayed during that period but you know it’d be you know chinese medicine um disease is a reaction to uh uh you know how how the outside affects our energy which we call chi and if anyone is not aware of what she is the the the easiest way to sort of um describe it is is vital energy so when you’re your chi is affected um you know the way it moves if it it doesn’t move the way it should move then you have disease so in cancer uh obviously we know that it’s to do with um you know mutating cells that so it’s the body that is it’s um you know essentially fighting itself and it’s it’s an overstimulus isn’t it so so in chinese medicine we’d be looking at um well it’s everything in chinese medicine but particularly when we’re thinking about uh how the body attacks itself it’s often to do with the liver now liver is like all the organs in chinese medicine it has an emotion that affects it and it has certain foods and uh and a certain mood that affects it so the emotion that affects liver is frustration and anger uh and just this you know feeling of not being able to move so when that when your energy is affected in that way then it it stops moving and you may get you know the tumors or something like that um so it’s more complicated than that obviously but but going back to the original question uh guinea i think that the answer to that in how why chinese medicine helps it’s because it’s it’s very good at um looking at an individual and how they respond to disease uh whether it’s the the side effects of the disease you know the symptoms of disease are the side effects of the treatment and it can it can look at the person as an individual in a holistic way whereas the the more sort of allopathic western type treatments are sort of generic to everyone so it can it can be a lot more a lot more gentle so that’s why we don’t really go around trying to treat cancer we try and treat the person yeah i think that’s a really valid point um and i wanted to touch on what you said like so you say in chinese medicine kind of the main organs all have a related uh emotion tied to it and also kind of the the like types of food that are you know linked to it as well right that is good or bad for it um could you kind of shed some light seeing that you know you work a lot with breast cancer uh patients right and and in their recovery uh state so um what would you know what would you where would you start for breast cancer patient patients uh in terms of emotions and food wise okay well um uh so breast cancer is you know most typically a tumor type of cancer so tumors in chinese medicine we say that they are uh there’s different types of tumor but just for the sake of argument we say that we’re looking at um balls of phlegm really and so the phlegm in chinese medicine is uh to do with an imbalance of the spleen okay because spleen is um it helps move fluids and it it directs fluids so so and obviously when i’m talking about what organs do i’m talking about chinese medicine because obviously we know in western medicine that’s not what a spleen does so so the spleen is most affected um by damp forming foods and stress and overthinking and just doing too much really so dent forming foods are foods that uh you know like dairy sugars um and um anything that you that you shouldn’t really be eating like beige food anything that’s beige is probably going to give you so many good stuff like so many good things are in the color beige for food like pasta brands croissants anything you know i mean basically if you like it it’s probably not good for you this is not really good news for me uh steve a little bit of something nice is always good but when it’s only nice then you’re heading for trouble but you need to you need to have a bit of joy in your life right so yeah you’re saying that these dampening foods are probably not or kind of triggers of where it would start um when you look at it i think um yeah so you know obviously we’re not in the uh we’re not in a blame game so we’re not telling people that this is why you’ve got cancer so because obviously every everyone’s different so there’s the person that runs marathons v has a vegan diet you know has meditates every day and they get cancer and then there’s another person who smokes 20 cigarettes a day drinks every day eats what they like you know they’ve got total beige in their cupboard 90 with no with no problem so there’s obviously it’s how it’s how you know so from a chinese medical point of view is how does everything fit together and there’s obviously something that’s in that chain that’s creating an imbalance and that’s that’s why you know so you can’t you know i i don’t think we should go through life um trying to avoid disease you know because it become an obsession then but there’s obviously you know sensible things that we can do so don’t drink too much don’t smoke only have beige food on your birthday and other people’s birthdays and obviously so um so i think you know i mentioned uh in our in our chat earlier that we in chinese medicine we have an aphorism that says that she goes where the mind goes so if your mind is uh you know stuck or obsessive or you know oh boy it’s got one of these emotions like anger but is overriding then it’s going to cause a problem so it’s good to have um you know we need balance in our life so and that includes the mind so if you’re my if your mind is is uh you know obsessive or or stuck then you need help you know and i think that’s the first place to start with um uh you know with health is to is to be honest with yourself uh yeah where is your mind at right so so interestingly um what you’re mentioning with with the mind not only could be kind of some of having a healthy mind not only does it participate in preventing some of those those um those illnesses but now if we were to look at cancer on its own um and especially the recovery because this conversation also i would like to stress is that we’re not saying um that tcm or traditional chinese medicine is here to to cure cancer because cancer has come to a point where it’s chronic and and and that’s why you need allopathic treatments right but it’s more like the recovery phase where most of them have um you know undergone very um very aggressive treatment and that affects their their body their mind and their spirit to a certain extent and so what are key factors or be external internal that could affect you know that recovery process because if i were to see like a a picture of if i had to represent someone who undergone because i had uh family members that that underwent this they they just drained by by so much of um of all this medication and so for them to come back to a certain normal life if as i i would go to this how can tcm help in that process well uh well there’s certain um common side effects that people present with night sweats hot flashes nausea fatigue um sort of mood type disorders such as depression and anxiety and pain they are the main the main things that i would treat people for but i think um you know firstly i think what i try to stress to my clients to my patients is that um you know life will it’s very difficult to be back to where you were pre-cancer you know and and i see that a lot with my with my clients is that they’re this for instance if they’re they’re runners that they’re they’ve gone through their disease they’ve come out on the other side and they’re having treatment for recovery but they’re still trying to run marathons you know and you so what i i think is important for for any anyone through uh becoming from any disease is to understand that uh how ill they have been and how depleting it is so um you know you’ve got to be realistic and i’m not saying that you you’re not going to be um you will be healthy again but you may not be the person you were before you know it’s a it’s a life life-changing event you know and um i think it’s uh that it’s a mistake to try to be the person you were before you’re ill because that might be um you might be going back to something that wasn’t good i don’t know yeah so there’s certain aspects that we is really good to know about chinese medicine is that there’s internal factors and there’s external factors so the external factors that you know we all know what these are so it’s the weather so you know don’t go out like your mum said don’t go out when you’ve washed your hair with wet hair you know cover up your neck when it’s windy you know you’ll catch a cold or you get a stiff neck um you know don’t sit on a damp floor you know all this stuff is it’s it’s they’re cliches but the cliche is it’s a cliche because it’s true you know and uh uh so there’s the the there’s fire there’s six aspects of weather that we that affect us uh um uh can affect our chi it’s the wind the coldness heat uh dryness so when i say heat it’s like fire dryness and there’s one in between which we call summer heat um which i mean being from england there’s only two things that i really understand and that’s dampness and cold because that’s what we get here for sure so we so but in a more hot country uh you know like in south america or something then you might have more heat type uh issues or or damp heat or this this thing we call summer heat you know so they’re they’re the outside uh things um but also you have to take into account pollution and air conditioning and uh what we eat you know so you know too much beige or you know people live on chips and crisps and things like that you know this it’s an imbalance it’s an imbalance so uh and uh trauma is a is a is a huge huge factor isn’t it so there’s obviously some things that are we have no control over so for instance if you do a job that you dislike it’s it’s going to be bad for your health but you you can’t just leave your job can you you know or you’re in a relationship that is is no longer working for you it’s very difficult to just say well it’s not working for me anymore i’m going you know because obviously you’ve got to think about children and pets and mortgages and and you know and every you know it’s complicated isn’t it so obviously then you you have to there’s an element of work that’s involved you have to think how am i going to change this yeah so uh so then you may need help with that you know um and then we’ve got the emotions as well so um the the main emotions that we talk about in chinese medicine anger joy worry pensiveness and that’s that’s the sort of chinese translation of i think yeah sadness fear and shock and they’re they’re the uh the seven emotions we talk about in chinese medicine so where one of those emotions is in excess it can cause uh a problem uh and or where the organ that that emotion is attached to is out of the balance then that emotion can be become either heightened or dampened you know so a good example a good example would be someone who’s always angry or someone who just can’t get angry when they should be angry but anger is linked to which organ liver liver oh yes you mentioned it yeah right and the and the organ paired with the liver is the gallbladder so um and and the the gall bladder is is is a is a yang organ so it’s more about action so the gallbladder whereas the liver is about anger the gallbladder is about decision making and and what direction to go so it could be if the gallbladder is not doing its job right then you’re going to get angry and frustrated because you don’t know which way to go yeah but to say that that person’s too angry so they’re gonna have a living balance is is too simplified isn’t it because every we’re we’re so complicated and so those are these are like i guess these would be contributing to the internal factors like your emotions and trauma um would be the internal factors if i’m getting that right yes yes but obviously i’m going to make it even more complicated because because the amount the the climatic factor associated with liver is the wind so if you if you uh uh you know out on a windy day and you have uh let’s say that you do have a liver imbalance then it can make you angry you know so and that’s that explains why for me that you know on some days you go out and everyone seems angry you know for no reason or the mood is like really sort of down or on a sunny day everyone’s out and they’re all nice and breezy wearing themselves it’s very apparent in especially in in the uk no in the uk i’m telling you when there’s a ray of sun you just feel the energy shifting where people’s mood and it’s it’s very apparent compare i feel that it’s one of the city that especially in london that that is so apparent where the weather really affects people’s uh mood and there’s been research where decisions have been made because the weather was better than another day so for example this was like for funding um for investors who have accepted to fund some some startups which were more successful on a sunny day than a rainy day so to say how you know it’s really it’s really a thing um and so kind of going back to cancer uh cancer patient and their recovery phase and understanding that internal external factors um how can tcm practically treat those imbalances well um so this i’m a specialist in acupuncture and i also do a style of chinese massage called twinar which is basically it’s massive techniques that use the same theory uh chinese medical theory same as acupuncture so sorry can i just ask is that acupressure between uh well it’s sim it has aspects of acupressure in it so we we do we do acupressure we we do hitting we do we do rubbing we do pushing okay you know it’s um it’s very you know it’s pretty similar to most massage techniques but it’s the the reason it’s different is because it uses uh the same theory as as acupuncture okay and uh or chinese medicine um so you know so um how it helps is basically you the way we place the needles will affect the energy in a certain way so when i when i meet a client for the first time we we have a chat we have a consultation and i ask them questions about um you know what they’re experiencing how they think i can help so what symptoms are they experiencing and then i i i’ll have a i’ll ask them about the digestion about their bowel movements uh about their sleep about any headaches any aches and pains yeah so i try and do a thorough consultation and that will give me an idea of uh how their what their energy is doing and then for based on that i can decide uh what points to use so there’s uh so we’ve got the the organs lungs kidneys hearts liver and spleen um and the sixth organ in chinese medicine is pericardium so which is the the the envelope that goes around the heart or a heart protector it’s often called so there’s the six yin organs and then you have six uh yang organs as well which are paired to those so it’d be liver gall bladder um hearts is small intestine um but yeah so so it would based on the consultation i’ll have a better understanding of where uh the energy is stuck and how i can move it and then that will tell me um where to put needles so on the channels so each channel is uh connected to an organ and but along that channel each point has a different action so i will decide what channel to use so what organ do i want to affect and then how do i want to affect it and tell me where to put the point on the channel why do you think or maybe what would be factors that would affect um someone’s kind of acceptance of the the the healing treatment that it’s that you’re trying to administer well um mind is a is a big factor but it’s not it’s not essential so you don’t have to believe it because we know that acupuncture works with animals and we know it works with children and neither neither of those groups um think about whether it works or not so but if you if you willingly if you try and will it not to work then it probably won’t you know so uh another aspect might be that you’re just not having enough treatment so um my the people that i treat at the hospital generally have six treatments now that might be enough to start but it it you know you probably need a bit more than that um and obviously uh lifestyle changes need to be made so there may be things that still have they’re still doing that are affecting so let’s talk about um hot flashes for instance you know coffee is an own trigger for that stimulants such as chocolates certain foods you know stress will trigger it so if you’re not if you’re not taking out the triggers then it’s still going to keep keep happening you know so you know something having a drug like tamoxifen or letrazole yeah one of the both the common side effects of night sweats but you’ve got to do help yourself in a little bit you know the triggers are still there they’re not having enough treatment uh or it could be that um the disease is very advanced so you know you right it could be that they’ve been mistreated you know the they’re on the wrong type of uh chemotherapy or preventative drug you know or the wrong dosage because you know this we’ve got chemotherapy there’s hundreds of different types of different chemotherapy drugs and um everyone reacts differently to you know so that’s the factor and you know again the going back to the mind aspect if you in a uh you know in a relationship you don’t want to be in in a job you don’t want to be in you know you or you’re feeling misunderstood or you’re not you know just in a place that you don’t feel good you it’s going to affect your treatment and obviously all of us are in all those categories you know how much acupuncture do you have you know how do we really know that we’re having the right treatment because we’re putting our our health into the hands of someone else you know how do we know that we’re eating well you’ve got to um you know be honest with yourself like am i doing um what is best for me and but and but you still need joy in your life yeah you know you can’t you can’t live you know like the monastic life when when uh you crave company or you crave uh you know a glass of wine every now then or a cake on on the weekend yeah so i guess like from what you’re saying to kind of like tie things in together um so you’re saying that like patients who are in cancer recovery um they should be looking at kind of firstly like getting consultations other than outside of the allopathic space only to see if that could facilitate their healing process and recovery process and as one of it is acupuncture when they see a practitioner kind of look at the internal factors external factors and the lifestyle around these these changes that are happening with within them right um to kind of facilitate that process and have it be effective for them especially when they start venturing into the the healing journey right um and i guess uh before we close off my my question like for you is like for patients who are going through treatment right in uh chemotherapy or radiation in that time can they do something already that can be facilitating their recovery process like you know in that journey while they are getting allopathic treatment can they start their treatment then and you know if so like how do they what mindset or approach they take with that yeah i think you can you can take you can start acupuncture treatment at any any point of the uh of the disease or the treatment or the recovery um there’s certain things that would definitely need to be addressed um definitely uh dietary factors um definitely um exercise um so it might be yoga or qigong or tai chi something that’s energy based and and sort of mindfulness and or has maybe even a spiritual aspect yeah um because you know something like uh running for instance is um it’s it’s it’s too um it’s disconnection from the mind i think you know it’s exercise is good but you um you can do too much or not enough i don’t know you know it’s about getting that balance um yeah you certainly need to um uh you know put your hands in in put yourself in the hands of someone who is um an expert in that field you know like a doctor or a an oncologist but you you when you’re strong enough when you’re ready you need to um start building up your own um you know what how can you help yourself right because are you the doctor can’t feel what you feel they can only they can only sort of guess what you’re actually feeling and none of us feel the same you know we’re all individuals yeah and you yeah you’ve got to go through um we don’t have to go through it but the choice is there you can go through the the the uh the allopathic uh roots uh which which is is entirely up to the individual but it’s also a good idea to um will think how can i empower myself how can i be part of this hearing process and i think that’s that really is kind of like a good way to to end our conversation because to make people think about that like how do you take agency in your own health in the process of like uh any any illness or even even if you don’t get to a state of illness which is actually what we all should thrive to not have right um any sort of chronic illness then taking agency in our life right in our lives to make sure that we are in control of our health and i guess like steve um i think we told you about our closing uh rapid fire questions that we we’ve been doing so maybe we can close off with um the first question um which is what is the worst health advice that you’ve ever received ever uh go to the doctor that’s a good one well that’s in that country first nice um and if there was one habit we should all adapt what would it be um daily exercise that’s a good one very simple and and the last one is if you were to put a song or soundtrack to your life um what would it be oh it’s gotta be the rocky theme nice we had we had another practitioner tell us the same thing all right nice it’s a thing because it’s the thing is and it’s also because you are also into a martial arts right yeah so that’s why it’s very um appropriate well thank you so much steve for um for coming on to our show and and sharing your wisdom with us thanks guinea thanks tasha i really enjoy it thank you for coming bye

Steve Coster | Ep #23 | Using Traditional Chinese Medicine in Cancer Recovery

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top