Effectiveness of Taiwanese traditional herbal diet for pain management in terminal cancer patients.


Abstract:  In addition to modern medicinal therapy, many cancer patients in Taiwan are treated regularly with herbal medicines or prescribed a traditional herbal diet. In this paper, the effect of a Taiwanese traditional herbal diet (TTHD) on pain in terminal cancer patients was investigated. A total of 2,466 patients diagnosed with a variety of cancers were included. The most common patient-reported symptoms included troublesome pain (79.2%), weakness (69.0%), anorexia (46.4%), fever (36.5%), dyspnea (31.1%), and leg edema (30.9%). The 2,466 terminal cancer patients included in the study were randomly divided into three groups. The TTHD group (n=1044; 42.3%) were given the TTHD consisting of analgesic herbs (paeony root: licorice root=1:1) and a Taiwanese tonic vegetable soup (Lilii bulbus, Nelumbo seed, and Jujube fruit). The remaining patients were divided into a reference group, given the regular hospital diet, (n=909, 36.9%) and a control group, given the Taiwanese tonic vegetable soup without analgesic herbs, (n=513, 20.8%). All patients maintained their assigned diets for one week. A verbal numerical scale was used to assess pain. Results revealed that the patients given TTHD reported enhanced pain relief (p<0.05) compared to the reference and control groups. We found that TTHD could alleviate the pain among terminal cancer patients thereby supporting the supposition that Eastern and Western medicines can be effectively co-administered to enhance terminal patient’s quality of life. Further research is warranted.


Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition



Resource Type:

Journal Article


Wu TH et al