AYURVEDA TREATMENT FOR CANCER
Ayurveda, a natural system of medicine, originated in India more than 3,000 years ago. The term Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (knowledge). Thus, Ayurveda translates to knowledge of life. Based on the idea that disease is due to an imbalance or stress in a person’s consciousness, Ayurveda encourages certain lifestyle interventions and natural therapies to regain a balance between the body, mind, spirit, and the environment.
Ayurveda places great emphasis on prevention and encourages the maintenance of health through close attention to balance in one’s life, right thinking, diet, lifestyle and the use of herbs. Knowledge of Ayurveda enables one to understand how to create this balance of body, mind and consciousness according to one’s own individual constitution and how to make lifestyle changes to bring about and maintain this balance.
Just as everyone has a unique fingerprint, each person has a particular pattern of energy—an individual combination of physical, mental and emotional characteristics—which comprises their own constitution. This constitution is determined at conception by a number of factors and remains the same throughout one’s life.
Many factors, both internal and external, act upon us to disturb this balance and are reflected as a change in one’s constitution from the balanced state. Examples of these emotional and physical stresses include one’s emotional state, diet and food choices, seasons and weather, physical trauma, work and family relationships. Once these factors are understood, one can take appropriate actions to nullify or minimize their effects or eliminate the causes of imbalance and re-establish one’s original constitution. Balance is the natural order; imbalance is disorder. Health is order; disease is disorder. Within the body there is a constant interaction between order and disorder. When one understands the nature and structure of disorder, one can re-establish order.
Ayurveda identifies three basic types of energy or functional principles that are present in everyone and everything. Since there are no single words in English that convey these concepts, we use the original Sanskrit words vata, pitta and kapha. These principles can be related to the basic biology of the body.
Energy is required to create movement so that fluids and nutrients get to the cells, enabling the body to function. Energy is also required to metabolize the nutrients in the cells, and is called for to lubricate and maintain the structure of the cell. Vata is the energy of movement; pitta is the energy of digestion or metabolism and kapha, the energy of lubrication and structure. All people have the qualities of vata, pitta and kapha, but one is usually primary, one secondary and the third is usually least prominent. The cause of disease in Ayurveda is viewed as a lack of proper cellular function due to an excess or deficiency of vata, pitta or kapha. Disease can also be caused by the presence of toxins.
In Ayurveda, body, mind and consciousness work together in maintaining balance. They are simply viewed as different facets of one’s being. To learn how to balance the body, mind and consciousness requires an understanding of how vata, pitta and kapha work together. According to Ayurvedic philosophy the entire cosmos is an interplay of the energies of the five great elements—Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Vata, pitta and kapha are combinations and permutations of these five elements that manifest as patterns present in all creation. In the physical body, vata is the subtle energy of movement, pitta the energy of digestion and metabolism, and kapha the energy that forms the body’s structure.
The basic difference between Ayurveda and Western allopathic medicine is important to understand. Western allopathic medicine currently tends to focus on symptomatology and disease, and primarily uses drugs and surgery to rid the body of pathogens or diseased tissue. Many lives have been saved by this approach. In fact, surgery is encompassed by Ayurveda. However, drugs, because of their toxicity, often weaken the body. Ayurveda does not focus on disease. Rather, Ayurveda maintains that all life must be supported by energy in balance. When there is minimal stress and the flow of energy within a person is balanced, the body’s natural defense systems will be strong and can more easily defend against disease.
AYURVEDA TREATMENT FOR CANCER
Cancer, one of the most deadly challenges spreading drastically in 21st century, has now officially become the most dangerous killer in the world according to the World Health Organization. Ayurveda, an ancient Indian system of medicine, is known for preventing or suppressing various tumors using natural drugs. In Ayurvedic concept, according to ‘Charaka’ and ‘Sushruta Samhitas’ cancer is described as inflammatory or non-inflammatory swelling and mentioned either as ‘Granthi’ (minor neoplasm) or ‘Arbuda‘ (major neoplasm). The nervous system (Vata or air), the venous system (Pitta or fire) and the arterial system (Kapha or water) are three basics of Ayurveda and very important for normal body function. In malignant tumors all three systems get out of control (Tridoshas) and lose mutual coordination that causes tissue damage, resulting in a critical condition. Tridoshas cause excessive metabolic crisis resulting in proliferation.
The main goal of Ayurvedic therapy is to find the ultimate cause of an illness while the therapeutic approach of Ayurveda is divided into four categories as Prakritisthapani chikitsa (health maintenance), Rasayana chikitsa, (restoration of normal function), Roganashani chikitsa (disease cure) and Naishthiki chikitsa (spiritual approach). In Ayurveda treatment of cancer, herbal decoctions are made of multiple herbs which possess great potential for treatment. Scientifically these formulations work on multiple biochemical pathways and influence different organ systems all together and nourish the body as a whole by supporting body‘s deference systems.
Herbs help healing, reduces the side effects and cancer-associated complications. Andrographis paniculata, Annona atemoya, Phyllanthus niruri, Piper longum, Podophyllum hexandrum, Tinospora cordifolia, Semecarpus anacardium, Vitis vinifera, Baliospermum montanum, Madhuca indica, Pandanus odoratissimum, Pterospermum acerifolium, Raphanus sativus, Barleria prionitis, Prosopis cineraria, Amorphopallus campanulatus, Oxoxylum indicum, Basella rubra, Flacourtia romantchi, Moringa oleifera, Ficus bengalensis, Curcuma domestica, Allium sativum, Calotropis gigantean, Datura metel, Hygrophila spinosa, Juniperus indica, Moringa oleifera, Nigella sativa, Picrorrhiza kurroa, Rubia cordifolia, etc. are various plants having scientific evidence of anticancer properties. At present, many herbs are under clinical studies and being investigated phytochemically to understand their anticancer potential. More than 25% of drugs used during the last 20 years are directly derived from plants, while the other 25% are chemically altered natural products. Nine plant-derived compounds including vinblastine, vincristine, etoposide, teniposide, taxol, navelbine, taxotere, topotecan and irinotecan have been approved for use as anticancer drugs. 10-hydroxycamptothecin, monocrotaline, d-tetrandrine, lycobetaine, indirubin, colchicinamide, curcumol, curdione, gossypol and homoharringtonine are few more plant-derived compounds of high hope.
In Ayurveda treatment for cancer, each herb contains multiple active principles that often operate synergistically producing therapeutic benefits and lowering the risks of adverse effects and avoids the need for supplemental therapy to manage cancer cachexia.
The main difference between Western and Ayurvedic treatment of cancer is that Ayurveda doesn’t have any aggressive body treatments. Ayurveda stimulates the self-healing abilities of the body. Ayurveda has a wide range of therapies and herbs to purify and support body tissues for natural recovery. The starting point is balancing the Tridosha’s and Triguna’s. Ayurveda can determine subtle disturbances in a very early stage of this disease. Even before it manifests itself, Ayurveda can already establish disturbances in the balance of mind and body. Both in this first stage and in the following stages, Ayurveda can help a patient to recover and prevent serious chronic diseases. In all the stages, even when a chronic disease like cancer has been diagnosed, Ayurveda can provide extensive knowledge of herbs and treatment strategies. During chemotherapy and / or radiotherapy, Ayurveda can help to reduce the side-effects of the treatment as well as assist the body in its recovery process.
A chronic disease like cancer does not only disturb the body, it also affects the mind. When someone is blocked in his development, he may become frustrated. This will imbalance the mind and leads to all kinds of symptoms like hyperactivity, lethargy, indifference or even depression. The last three are mental attitudes Ayurveda refers to as “Tamasic”, the negative aspect of Tamas. Tamas has a strong resemblance with the Tridosha Kapha. When a chronic disease such as cancer develops, Tamas and Kapha can reinforce each other. Ayurveda considers psychotherapy as a meaningful part of the treatment. Because health can be attained only through balancing body, mind and spirit.
Pancha Karma is recommended to activate the body’s self-healing ability, calm the Doshas and Gunas and remove excess Kapha and toxins from the body. Depending on the cause (Vatha or Pittha or Kapha), the site of the tumor and the strength of the patient, large parts of the body channels are cleansed and the Dhatus nourished and revitalized with herbs, diet and complementary therapies. After chemotherapy Pancha Karma will be beneficial for recovery of both body and mind. Ayurvedic medicine reaches beyond “the strict treatment of symptoms.”
Ayurveda stimulates the self-healing abilities of the body. Ayurveda has a wide range of therapies and herbs to purify and support body tissues for natural recovery. The starting point is balancing the Tridosha’s and Triguna’s. Ayurveda can determine subtle disturbances in a very early stage of this disease. Even before it manifests itself, Ayurveda can already establish disturbances in the balance of mind and body. Both in this first stage and in the following stages, Ayurveda can help a patient to recover and prevent serious chronic diseases. In all the stages, even when a chronic disease like cancer has been diagnosed, Ayurveda can provide extensive knowledge of herbs and treatment strategies. During chemotherapy and / or radiotherapy, Ayurveda can help to reduce the side-effects of the treatment as well as assist the body in its recovery process.
Ayurveda advises to live according our constitution, daily and seasonal rhythm and every once in a while a Pancha Karma treatment – to prevent or restore the imbalance of Doshas and Dhatus – and a number of conditions can be relieved at an early stage.
Cancer has been a constant battle globally with a lot of development in cures and preventative therapies. The disease is characterized by cells in the human body continually multiplying with the inability to be controlled or stopped. Consequently, forming tumors of malignant cells with the potential to be metastatic. Current treatments include chemotherapy, radiotherapy and chemically derived drugs. Treatments such as chemotherapy can put patients under a lot of strain and further damage their health. Therefore, there is a focus on using alternative treatments and therapies against cancer.
For many years herbal medicines have been used and are still used in developing countries as the primary source of medical treatment. Plants have been used in medicine for their natural antiseptic properties. Thus, research has developed into investigating the potential properties and uses of terrestrial plants extracts for the preparation of potential nanomaterial based drugs for diseases including cancer. Medicinal plants have been used for thousands of years in folk medicines in Asian and African populations and many plants are consumed for their health benefits in developed nations. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) some nations still reply of plant-based treatment as their main source of medicine and developing nations are utilizing the benefits of naturally sourced compounds for therapeutic purposes. Compounds which have been identified and extracted from terrestrial plants for their anticancer properties include polyphenols, brassinosteroids and taxols. Some the popular herbs used in Ayurveda treatment of cancer include Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera – Indian Ginseng), Shatavari (Asparagus Racemosus) Guduchi (Tinosporia cordifolia), Triphala (Amalaki = Emblica officinalis Bibhitaki = Terminalia Bellirica, Haritaki = Terminalia chebula), Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) and Turmeric (Curcumin).
CLASSICAL AYURVEDA AND CANCER
‘Arbuda’ is the Sanskrit word for tumor. According to Sushrut the three Doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) when aggravated may develop a malignant tumor; especially aggravated Kapha and Vata Doshas. This affects the tissue, which might result in developing a malignant tumor. This tumor will have the following features – Round, Firm, Causing mild pain, Large, Deeply rooted in the body, Slow growth, Showing no suppuration, A swollen, fleshy growth.
Modern Research on Ayurveda treatment for cancer is being conducted to explore the anti-cancer effects of herbs and formulations described in classical texts and used by Ayurvedic physicians in clinical practice. Plumbago Rosea, Withania Somnifera, Semecarpus Anacardium, Achyranthes Aspera, Saraca Asoka, Hemidesmus Indicus, Pandanus Odoratissimus, Curcuma Longa, Tinospora Codrifolia, Commiphora Mukul and the list goes on. Varanadi Ghritam and Indukantam Ghritam are formulations that have been explored for their beneficial effects in cancer. The traditions of text and practice in Ayurveda continue to be explored for new leads to develop drugs for management of cancer .
The resulting vision of Ayurvedic pathology offers the possibility to develop individualized treatment modules according to causal factors. The causal factor will be one of the three Doshas that is prevented from correct functional communication due to lifestyle habits, diet, secondary effects of medication, environmental chemicals, or psychosomatic reasons. The possible causes for the disruption of Dosha function are unlimited. If identified, the causes should be removed, as the cause of Dosha pathology will prevent the re-establishment of homeostasis.
In a recent development, India and the United States have tied up to explore traditional medicine systems like ayurveda in the search for cancer medicines. The two countries signed a Letter of Intent during bilateral summit, that provides for exchange of scientists, data and material on a regular basis for research to find complementary and alternative medicines for cancer. The LoI was signed on 27 October between the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS), the apex body in India for undertaking, coordinating, formulating, developing and promoting research in ayurveda under the Ministry of AYUSH, and the Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM), an agency under the US government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH).