Talk by George Wong,

Chinese Herbalist at SHARE

George Wong, PhD, a Harvard-trained researcher(formerly at the Strang Cancer Prevention Center, now in private practice 2009). He can be reached by email - contact us at for his information. He is a Chinese herbalist and works with women (and men) with breast cancer. This is a summary of his talk on March 12 at SHARE (a NYC self-help group for women with breast or ovarian cancer).

Dr. Wong began his talk by stating that we really do not know the causes of breast cancer and this makes it harder to prevent the disease. The majority of cases are sporadic, that is not inherited disease.

He mentioned that the nipple (and left breast at 2:00) lie on the stomach meridian in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This may imply that if the digestive system does not function well, a person may be at higher risk. In TCM, the stomach meridian is related to the liver meridian which is connected to the mind/emotion. In TCM, anxiety, anger, depression, grief, fear, phobia or an unhealthy emotional state can affect breast health. If the energy is 'stagnant', no flowing properly, this could be responsible for calcifications. (known as pleghm). This occurs not just in the throat but also in breast nodules.

Dr. Wong suggested learning to relax after treatment is finished. He called this secondary prevention, mentioning tai chi, yoga, chi gong, meditation, massage or whatever might work for the individual. He made the interesting observation that acupuncture used for relaxation could become habit-forming.

He spent a lot of time discussing foods from the concept of yin deficit, yang deficit, yin excess and yang excess. These are very difficult concepts for the Western audience. Here is a description (for women who have had breast cancer) that probably fails to explain fully:

Yin Deficit=blood deficit, hot flashes, night sweats, hot palm when touching something cool, thirsty.

Yang Deficit=chilled inside, low blood pressure, run on nervous energy, lacking physical energy.

He stated that people can be both yin and yang deficit.

Much less common for those who have had breast cancer is:

Yin Excess=cold, damp, phlegm, loose bowel movement, sluggish, long digestion time, could hear 'tummy'.

Yang Excess=hot, smelly, constipated, sweaty (more common in men).

Dr. Wong did mention a few times that the TCM concepts may sound somewhat antiquated and non-feminist to Western listeners.

He stated that blood types are stable but that energy changes and is dynamic-this is more important in TCM.


Rice and grains tend to be neutral

Wheat or barley may be too cold for some women

Beans are good. Soybeans are neutral, cooked is best (otherwise can cause gas). Tofu is more cold in nature and should be cooked with spice

Nuts are neutral, agreeable

Potatoes are nightshades which he does not recommend for survivors, although baked is good. Frying gives yang energy

Mangoes are very yang, promote fire, (good), recommends peaches, cherries, plums, coconut, pineapple. If yin deficit, oranges, tangerines, pears (hot), red delicious apples, especially cooked.

Grapefruits, figs and olives are neutral

Bananas are nightshades and very yin. Suppresses appetite if yang deficit.

If you have a cold nature, he suggests garlic, ginger, mustard greens, scallions, onions, carrots, pumpkin and squash (yang deficit).

If yin deficit, eat asparagus, broccoli (well cooked), spinach. Avoid cucumber, tomato, eggplant if yang deficit.

Corn, mushrooms are neutral. Eat whole eggs-the yoke is yang and the whites are yin. Scrambled eggs were recommended.

Bitter melon and cactus are very yin.

After cancer treatments, a patient is usually very yang deficit and therefore should have (organically raised) lamb chops, venison and wild game birds once per week. Chicken is neutral but too much fat is found in most US chickens. He recommends (free-range) chickens. Rabbit is cold, pork is neutral.

Oysters, shrimp, mussels, clams are warming in nature as is non-farm raised salmon. Other fish is neutral

Seaweed is good, salty and cold, add ginger or spices

Green tea is less good than black tea (in his system). (Studies show that black tea offers benefits in cancer prevention. Recommends oolong and fermented green tea. Jasmine has a lot of caffeine

Dairy is very acidic and yin in nature. Goat milk might be easier to metabolize, soy milk is somewhat hard to digest and rice milk is more neutral

Recommends: cinnamon, pepper, curry as very yang in nature.

Red wine promotes yang energy but only ONE glass per week. White wine is very acidic and has sulfides which are not good.

Chocolate and coffee can be good since they promote yang energy. If constipated, a cup of hot chocolate (cocoa) or Brazilian coffee is recommended to raise the yang energy

Flowers-rose tea if organic would be good and warming. Chrysanthemum tea is a little cold

Salt is considered neutral to yin but too much can be a burden on kidney energy

Bee products (in response to a question) can be good but make sure they are from organically raised bees

Dr. Wong suggested that a patient might take ginseng for a short while after surgery or chemotherapy/radiation because it is good for repairing the heart. Short-term because it is quite estrogenic

He stated that many herbs work like Tamoxifen (phytoestrogens) in low dose and can "outperform Tamoxifen in animal studies".

Indole 3 carbinol which is being studied at the Strang Cancer Prevention Center could be used for breast cancer prevention. It works somewhat differently from Tamoxifen and has shown no toxicity. Studies are currently being conducted at the National Institute of Toxicology.

Dr. Wong recommended specific herbs for specific needs. However these needs would have to be evaluated by a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). He stated that an experienced TCM practitioner can tell almost at a glance, how the patient is doing.

See below for those specific herbal suggestions, Part II.

Part II Herbal References

Specific herbs discussed for use with breast cancer and more

Chinese Herbs for Breast Cancer Treatment (California)

Asian Week 2001-2002

Ann Fonfa is his patient

disease-free 9/01

Protecting Medicinal Plants/Animals & Oriental Med

Thanks to September 8, 2002

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