The objectives of this study were to investigate the differences in severity of yin-deficient symptoms (YDS) and function of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) between patients with cancer with metastasis and those without metastasis.
Setting: The setting was an outpatient clinic in a teaching hospital in central Taiwan.
The subjects were a total of 124 patients who had been diagnosed with cancer on the basis of pathologic and clinical findings. Among them, 61 had distant metastasis, and the other 63 had no evidence of metastasis. The two groups were similar regarding age and gender.
The severity of yin-deficient symptoms in each subject was evaluated using a questionnaire containing 12 items about symptoms and signs related to the yin-deficient symptoms. The severity of each symptom or sign was rated on a 4-point scale. Outcome measures: The total score on the questionnaire represented the severity of YDS. ANS function in each subject was evaluated by measuring heart rate variability (HRV), including time and frequency domains. The questionnaire data were coded, and statistical analysis was performed using SPSS version 12.0. Data were analyzed using the Student’s t-test or the w2 test.
The patients with metastasis had significantly higher average total yin-deficient symptoms score and heart rate compared with the patients without metastasis. In contrast, they had significantly lower HRV, including standard deviation of the 5-minute average R-R interval, total power, very-low-frequency power, and low frequency (LF) power, but not high-frequency (HF) power and LF/HF ratio. Conclusions: The results of this study indicate that patients with metastatic cancer have more severe YDS and impaired ANS function than those without metastasis.
Yin-deficient Symptoms (YDS)
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) yin-deficient symptoms is a pathological status of the human body that lacks blood, bodily fluids, and “essence (Shu-Chuan Lin & Ming-Feng Chen, 2010). Symptoms of the yin-deficient symptoms are a rapid and small pulse, tongue redness with loss or lack of the tongue coating, insomnia with irritation, dry mouth, blurred vision, loss of hearing, facial flushing and dizziness (Shu-Chuan Lin & Ming-Feng Chen, 2010).
These symptoms can manifest as part of the disease process and due to treatment such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy (Shu-Chuan Lin & Ming-Feng Chen, 2010).
Go to this entry on The Alternative Medicine Blog for a quick refresher on the Autonomic Nervous System
Heart Rate Variability (HRV)
Goswami, Tibarewala, & Bhattacharya (2011) define HRV in the following way: “HRV is the variation of time between two consecutive heartbeats” (p. 1). This is straightforward enough, right? What does this mean? Well, if you read up on the ANS then you know that the ANS consists of two branches, the sympathetic branch (SNS) and the parasympathetic branch (PSNS). Because we are subject to external and internal stimuli, the balance between these two branches is constantly changing to optimize all that stimuli. For right now, it is essential to remember that SNS stimulation increase heart rate and PSNS activity reduces heart rate. When you are resting, both branches of the ANS are active, but PSNS activity is dominant. From this information, researchers know that individuals with greater HRV are generally in better health.
Hopefully, this illustrates why Shu-Chuan Lin & Ming-Feng Chen (2010) might have chosen HRV as a measure of impaired ANS function.
The good news here is that biofeedback equipment is available to train HRV. Yes, Mind-Body modalities such as meditation and breathing exercises play a major role in training HRV.
Why should a cancer patient be concerned with his/her HRV?
For more research about cancer and HRV visit the search “Cancer AND HRV” on PubMed.gov.
The Bottom Line
As you can imagine, poor HRV is associated with a suboptimal health outcome. While it might be too early to draw conclusions pertaining the effects of HRV on the course of cancer, it looks like improvements in HRV could positively affect the Quality of Life (QoL) of cancer patients. Given the severity of yin-deficient symptoms, a.k.a. cancer and treatment side effects such as sleeplessness with irritation, dry mouth, blurred vision, loss of hearing, facial flushing and dizziness, HRV training might be an attractive alternative to expanding QoL.
It looks like Shu-Chuan Lin & Ming-Feng Chen (2010) might agree:
“In summary, cancer metastasis was found to be associated with increased yin-deficient symptoms severity and impairment of ANS function in patients with cancer. The management of YDS and ANS dysfunction should be considered in the treatment of patients with cancer with metastasis” (p. 162). The authors also elaborate on some herbal prescriptions that are widely used for the improvement of the yin-deficient symptoms in TCM. Whether these agents can improve ANS function and yin-deficient symptoms in patients with cancer with metastasis warrants further investigation.
Writing an essay, paper, or report? Cite this story:
APA: W Absenger. (2012.06.15). Shu-Chuan Lin, & Ming-Feng Chen. (2010). Increased Yin-Deficient Symptoms and Aggravated Autonomic Nervous System Function in Patients with Metastatic Cancer [Web log post]. Retrieved from The Alternative Medicine Blog at http://amacf.org/2012/06/shu-chuan-lin-ming-feng-chen-2010-increased-yin-deficient-symptoms-and-autonomic-nervous-system-func.html
MLA: Absenger, Werner. “Shu-Chuan Lin, & Ming-Feng Chen. (2010). Increased Yin-Deficient Symptoms and Aggravated Autonomic Nervous System Function in Patients with Metastatic Cancer.” The Alternative Medicine Blog. The Alternative Medicine Blog., 15 JUNE. 2012. Web. Insert your date of access here.
Goswami, D. P., Tibarewala, D. N., & Bhattacharya, D. K. (2011). Analysis of heart rate variability signal in meditation using second-order difference plot. Journal of Applied Physics, 109(11), 114703. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/03091902.2013.828106
Shu-Chuan Lin, & Ming-Feng Chen. (2010). Increased Yin-Deficient Symptoms and Aggravated Autonomic Nervous System Function in Patients with Metastatic Cancer. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 16(10), 1059–1063. doi: 10.1089/acm.2009.0487