The aim of modern medicine in treating cancer is in “killing the cancer cells.” The three forte of treatment are radiation therapy, surgery and chemotherapy. These give rise to innumerable associated risks and side effects.
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An Introduction to Ayurveda and Cancer
Ayurveda treats the disease by eliminating the root cause as it has the power and potential to repair and rejuvenate each and every cell of the body. World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being and not just the absence of diseases or infirmity.” The principle of Ayurveda lies in the complete Ayurvedic treatment for body, mind and soul.
The Ayurvedic treatment of cancer aims at rejuvenating the cell which implies that the cancer cells are rejuvenated into normal healthy cells. Ayurvedic treatment is possible through ras-rasayana medicines and Panch-Karma (refers to total detoxification and purification of each and every cell of the body) which includes mercury and other metals like gold, silver, copper, zinc, bronze, iron etc. and gems like diamond, ruby, pearl etc. used in the form of ashes in the preparation of medicines. A badly necrotic cancerous tissue will also require surgical intervention along with this treatment, but there is no need for radiation or chemotherapy as in modern medicine system.
Merits and Demerits of Ayurvedic and Modern Day Medicine
Every system of medicine or pathy has certain advantages as well as limitations. The merits of Ayurveda are:
- Specific form of diagnosis to find out the root cause of disease Dashvidh and Ashtvidh Parikhsa etc.
If the medicine preparation was formulated strictly following the classical texts, there are almost no side effects.
Ayurveda always aims at treating the root cause of the disease
It rejuvenates the body at the cellular level
It is a wholesome treatment which not only treats the body, but also the mind and soul
The merits associated with modern day approach towards treatment of diseases are:
- Diagnosis of disease through modern techniques, pathological and radiological tests
- Emergency management of the disease is possible
- Surgical procedures
The disadvantages associated with Ayurveda are:
- It needs high skill for application
The disadvantages associated with modern medicine system are:
- It often treats the symptoms and not the root cause
- Frequent side effects are associated with their use
Today, Ayurveda approach is targeted towards integrating the meritorious techniques and skills of both the medicine system and this integrated approach has been successfully used in the treatment of incurable diseases such as cancer.
Approach of Ayurveda in Treatment of Cancer
- Ayurveda aims at treatment of the cancerous growth and also cures the tendency of cancer.
- Yukti/Vyapashraya : for the treatment of body and physique
- Satvavajaya: for the treatment of mind or mental faculties
- Daiv Vyapashraya: for the treatment of soul or spiritual faculties
The Ayurvedic methods in the treatment of cancer are:
- The tumor is employed with medicated oils and ointment which is then covered with a metal plate made of different metals including gold, silver, copper etc. These plates when applied on the tumor in heated state produce radiations which kill cancerous cells.
- Heated pre-medicated oils are poured on the tumor which is another kind of radiation therapy.
- Medicines are applied in the form of a paste in bandage and heated, which produces radiation
- Medicated steam is also used in Panch-Karma therapy to detoxify the body cells
- Sushrut (or surgery) is also done in Ayurveda wherever required.
Ayurvedic Diet and Lifestyle Changes in Cancer
In Ayurvedic treatment of cancer, specific foods that help in the alleviation of the disease condition also become a part of therapy. Food whose consumption should be increased during treatment are:
- Use of more ghee made of cow’s milk
- Goat milk
- Sesame oil should be used as a cooking medium
- Sprouted beans, soups of vegetables, nuts, raisins, and figs
- Fresh seasonal fruit juices
- Special herbal juice therapy
- Fat free diet (especially in liver cancers)
- Water and fluid restricted diet (especially in peritoneal and pericardial cancers)
- Salt free diet in renal cancers
Non-spicy food intake in gastro-intestinal cancers
Certain lifestyle changes inclusive of exercise regimen, balanced lifestyle and avoidance of improper eating habits (such as overeating, drinking water or carbonated beverages during meals, eating incompatible food combinations and excessive use of drugs and alcohol) should be followed religiously. Meditation should be made a part of daily routine as it helps in cleansing the body, mind and consciousness.
Benefits of Ayurvedic treatment
- It is almost completely free of unwanted side effects
- It improves metabolism of the patient and food becomes a part of therapy
- Digestion power is enhanced
- Rejuvenates the body and brings an overall positive improvement in the patient by inducing self confidence in him.
- It reduces the metastasis and is quite successful in completely eradicating the tumor from the body.
- Chances of recurrences are reduced due to regular intake of medicines.
- Quality of life improves.
- It is much less expensive and effective , the chances of success depending on the overall compliance of the patient in regularly taking medicines, proper diet and balanced lifestyle changes which are all a part of therapy.
- Balachandran P, Govindarajan R. Cancer: An ayurvedic perspective. Pharmacol. Res., 2005; 51(1):19-30.
- Aggarwal et al. From traditional ayurvedic medicine to modern medicine: identification for therapeutic targets for suppression of inflammation and cancer. Exp. Op. Therap. Targets. 2006; 10(1): 87-118.