Managing Cancer with Ayurveda
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on | Jan 19,2015
By: Dr. Pratap Chauhan, Ayurvedacharya & Director Jiva Ayurveda
Modern science is yet to discover effective remedies for deadly diseases such as cancer, AIDS, or other
hematological and auto-immune disorders. These diseases are very complicated in nature with
complexity at every level—anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology and gene expression.
So treating such diseases is a big challenge.
Numerous techniques are employed to combat these diseases, including surgery, radiotherapy,
chemotherapy, interferon therapy, hormone therapy, and blood transfusion. But the remedies that are
currently in use are either only for reducing the immediate complications associated with these diseases
or for slowing down the proliferation of the diseases.
There has been only limited success in the cure of these diseases due to various factors such as
resistance, difficulty in targeting the affected area, and the huge costs involved. Additionally, toxicity of
the drugs, ablative surgery, radiation damage, and chemotherapy hazards make the situation worse.
With all conventional therapeutics, an overall 2.4% survival of cancer patients has been reported within
5 years after diagnosis.
The Ayurvedic Perspective
The word ‘cancer’ may be new to the 5,000-year-old Indian system of medicine, Ayurveda, which relies
on natural substances for healing. But ancient Ayurvedic classics are aware of the clinical features,
resembling cancer, with the names such as Apachi, Gulma, Granthi, and Arbuda. Following are names of
some of the conditions mentioned in Ayurvedic classics that have relevance to cancer manifestations in
Modern Manifestations of Clinical Features Described in Ayurvedic
Manifestations in Ayurveda Manifestations in Modern
Apachi Hodgkin's Disease
Stanarbuda/AgantujaStanaroga Breast Cancer
Raktagulma Tumours of Uterus / Ovary
Rakta, Mamsaja, Medoja,
OshtaRoga Carcinoma of Lips
MamsaSanghata Carcinoma Palate
Swarabhanga Tumours of Larynx
Raktapitta, Pandu Various Type of Leukemia
Knowing More about Cancer
Cancer has largely remained incurable due to its complexity and its ability to spread rapidly and
uncontrollably. It is a condition in which our own body cells turn hostile. Let us elaborate on the
occurrence of cancer in human beings.
Knowing more about Cancer—Cell division in the form of mitosis is an essential continuous process in
our body that keeps the cells reproducing. Through cell division a mature cell divides itself into two
daughter cells. This is responsible for keeping our constituent body parts alive and healthy. A daughter
cell, thus produced, must be an exact replica of its mother. In case of an error in the duplication at the
genetic level, the daughter cells might become mutated or modified. These mutated cells start
duplicating themselves in an abnormal way, often giving rise to a situation where extra tissue is formed,
which is antagonistic to the rest of the body cells. We call this disease cancer.
Sometimes, in worse situations, the mutations are such that they are carried away to another similar
body organ located at a different place inside the body through the lymph fluid. This type of mutant cell
is then said to exhibit ‘metastasis’. For example, in the case of metastatic renal cell carcinoma, mutant
cells in the kidney can move to the lungs and then to the bone. Here, the patient might show symptoms
of cancer of the kidney, lungs and bones.
Cancer usually spreads very fast and a patient can meet death in less than 6 months. Therefore,
remedial measures need to be undertaken as soon as cancer is detected in the body.
Various remedies available for cancer either try to put a check on the duplicating process of the mutant
cells at genetic level or kill the entire collection of affected cells. The process, whether done chemically
or through radiation, always runs the risk of affecting the neighbouring normal cells. Further, there are
always significant side effects involved, which include hair loss, skin rashes, body pain, loss of body
weight, weakness and debility, loss of appetite, diarrhea, bleeding, impotence, etc.
Usually, when patients reach the final or terminal stage, doctors stop all remedies and ask patients to
leave hospital for home. Patients then die a slow, miserable and painful death.
What Ayurveda Can Do
The excruciating experience of dying cancer patients can be ameliorated by making use of Ayurvedic
principles. Ayurveda can be helpful in the management of cancer in many ways such as—prophylactic,
palliative, curative and supportive. Ayurvedic medicines help to improve the quality of life of the
patients as listed below:
Ayurvedic preparations can act as an adjuvant or a co-therapy along with chemotherapy or
radiotherapy. It is also helpful in post-surgery care.
Ayurvedic medicines help to minimise the side effects of these therapies.
Ayurveda helps in reducing the therapeutic doze of the various drugs used as proved in some
studies using cow urine.
They can be helpful in targeting the specific tissues as shown in some allopathic studies on
nano-particles of gold.
Ayurvedic preparations help to slow the progress of cancer in cases where chemotherapy,
radiotherapy or surgery is contra-indicated, due to some reasons and patients have no other
Some Ayurvedic preparations can fight against tumours.
The cell-protective activity of drugs prescribed in Rasayana therapy helps to improve comfort
and the quality of life of individuals with cancer.
We describe some of the above benefits of Ayurvedic drugs in cancer patients.
As an Adjuvant or Co-therapy Along With Chemotherapy or Radiation therapy:
Chemotherapy is the first and significant medical modality of cancer remedy, which involves the
introduction of strong chemicals. These chemicals target the fast-multiplying mutant cells. However, the
toxicity they cause to normal tissues of the body proves as an obstacle.
The use of antioxidants during chemotherapy enhances therapy by reducing the generation of
aldehydes. Natural drugs, which are used as Rasayanas in Ayurveda, have also been proved to have
All the drugs which are used in Rasayana therapy have the ability to reduce the three doshas or
imbalances related to vaata, pitta and kapha. The most commonly prescribed Rasayana drugs are
Triphala (Terminalia Chebula, Embellicaofficinale, and Terminalia ballarica), Guduchi
(Tinosporacordifoia) and Punarnava (Bohherviadiffusa). According to clinical studies, such drugs have
shown very impressive effects on protecting body from the side effects (of chemo and radio therapies)
like alopecia, nausea, constipation, anorexia and vomiting. The patients who receive Ayurvedic
treatment along with chemotherapy have shown more regularity in maintaining the chemotherapy
cycles as the hematological levels can be maintained up to a normal state. More than 50 research
studies on cancer carried out at various post-graduate institutes, have shown that Ayurvedic
preparations are very effective as chemo-preventive and radio-preventive agents.
Interestingly, Snehana, that is, intake of various medicated oil preparations in a classical way a week or
10 days prior to the start of chemotherapy or radiotherapy, has been found to reduce the toxic effects
of such therapies.
Dr. Pratap Chauhan (B.A.M.S.) is a silver medalist in Ayurveda from the University of Delhi, India. He is
an expert in treating the so-called incurable diseases, in Pharmacology and Rasashastra. He is also the
pioneer in applying modern technology to the ancient science of Ayurveda. Dr. Chauhan is a member of
various national and international health Associations. He also serves as the Chairman, International Cell
to AIIMGA (All India Indian Medicine Graduate Association, New Delhi). He is visiting professor to
Ayurveda Gurukula, Japan, Ayurveda Academy, Lithuania and a number of Internaltion Universities.
Winner of several national and international accolades, his telemedicine project, TeleDoc, won him UN
World Summit Award. He was also awarded the Best Ayurvedic Physician Award by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam,
former President of India. He is the founder of world's largest TeleMedicine Center in Faridabad where
more than 150 Ayurvedic doctors work under one roof.